Atlanta Falcon Football

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June 30, 1965, will always be remembered as both a termination and a commencement in the history of Atlanta Professional Sports. For on that day The Falcons were born and began their storied history in the National Football League.

Everything that had happened before was set aside for the immediate task of putting a team on the field. An $18 million stadium to play in, was under construction (Atlanta Fulton County Stadium), but as an "expansion" team, every detail had to be dealt with!

Rankin Smith, a young insurance executive, had controlling ownership of the Falcons.

Virtually unknown to the general public, Smith immediately endeared himself to aficionados of the sport by asking a choice rhetorical question at a press conference following his acquisition of the franchise: "Doesn't every adult male in America want to own his own football team?" Not every adult male American has the wherewithal to swing such a deal, but it was comforting to hear that a man is capable of dreams like those of any other guy.

In the first day there were over 1,000 phone calls to Smith's offices for tickets. By August, a contest was completed which resulted in the nickname Falcons. Several persons suggested the name "Falcons" in the contest, but a school teacher from nearby Griffin, GA (Ms Julia Elliott), was selected winner because of her reasons: "The falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops prey. It is deadly and has a great sporting tradition."

By the middle of December, Smith had signed the most coveted college football player in the nation, Texas linebacker Tommy Nobis. By Christmas Eve, when the Falcons cut off a brief 54-day ticket sale with almost no promotion, a new National Football League record had been established for season tickets sold by a new team (45,000). I was one of those 45,000!

Green Bay Packer assistant Norb Hecker, was hired as the first head coach and immediately started sifting through a huge list of NFL players made available to the Atlanta expansion team by other teams in the league.

Three men were chosen from each NFL club and these 42 formed the nucleus of the roster. Added to this group were the drafted rookies, scores of free agents and a few miscellaneous players obtained in trades. In all, Hecker and his staff were faced with evaluating over 130 men from July to September, during their first training camp in Black Mountain, NC.

On August 27, in Columbia, South Carolina, the Falcons recorded their first victory, beating the San Francisco 49ers, 24-17, in a preseason game. This marked the beginning of a many times frustrating and "less than exciting" history of the Atlanta Falcons.
In over 35 years of the ownership of the Smith Family the Falcons only had "very brief" moments of success! When Rankin Smith Sr. died in October 1997, his family maintained control of the Falcons. The team has had a less than stellar record. Under Rankin Smith's ownership, the team won one division title, in 1980, and made it to the playoffs five times. The only "real success" that the Falcons achieved during the Smith's ownership was, under the direction of head coach Dan Reeves, the Falcons franchise captured its first NFC championship following the 1998 regular season. On January 31, 1999 in Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami FL, the Denver Broncos defeated the Falcons 34-17.

On December 6, 2001, A new chapter in the history of the Atlanta Falcons began! On that day, Arthur M. Blank, the co-founder of Atlanta-based Home Depot, reached an agreement to purchase the team. A new Era Begins!

With the turmoil and tragedies of the past few years the Falcons are in the midst of another "new beginning". Gone are Michael Vick and his legal problems. Gone is Bobby Petrino, and his "college style coaching" that had a very poor "trial" in the NFL. However there is a new attitude on the Falcons and with their fans. The fate of the Falcons is again in the hands of a man named Smith. Mike Smith the new head coach. Along with new General Manager, Thomas Dimtroff, Smith has built a team around a veteran defense, several strategic free-agent signings and a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan. With guts and guile the Falcons have turned the page on their past and are rising again in the NFC South. Watch THESE Falcons..... The future looks VERY Bright!

Freddie Brister is a huge fan of the Atlanta Falcons and understands the storied tradition of the franchise. Having followed NFL football his whole life, he enjoys writing about it and sharing his love for the sport with other fans. Check out the store where he shops for Atlanta Falcons Merchandise .

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