The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are a member of the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team, after the NFL offered then-owner Rankin Smith a franchise to keep him from joining the rival American Football League (AFL). The AFL instead granted a franchise to Miami, Florida (the Miami Dolphins). In their 45 years of existence, the Falcons have compiled a record of 298–402–6 with division championships in 1980, 1998, 2004, and 2010. Their only Super Bowl appearance was Super Bowl XXXIII.
For more details on this topic, see History of the Atlanta Falcons.Once a stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was built, Atlanta felt the time was right to start pursuing professional football. One independent group which had been active in NFL exhibition promotions in Atlanta applied for franchises in both the American Football League and the NFL, acting entirely on its own with no guarantee of stadium rights. Another group reported it had deposited earnest money for a team in the AFl.
With everyone running in different directions, some local businessmen worked out a deal and were awarded an AFL franchise on June 7, 1965, contingent upon acquiring exclusive stadium rights from city officials. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who had been moving slowly in Atlanta matters, was spurred by the AFL interest and headed on the next plane down to Atlanta to block the rival league's claim on the city of Atlanta. He forced the city to make a choice between the two leagues. By June 30, the city picked Rankin Smith and the NFL. Ironically, the Miami Dolphins became a Professional Football powerhouse, winning two Super Bowl Championships, including the perfect season of 1972.
The Atlanta Falcons franchise began on June 30, 1965 when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership to Rankin Smith Sr. The expansion team was awarded the first pick in the 1966 NFL Draft as well as the final pick in each of the first five rounds. The Falcons drafted All-American Linebacker Tommy Nobis from the University of Texas with the first pick of the draft, making him the first-ever Falcon. The league also held the 1966 NFL Expansion Draft six weeks later in which the Falcons selected unprotected players from existing franchises.The Falcons selected many good players in drafts, but they still could not win. The Falcons had their first season in 1966, and their first preseason game on August 1, 1966, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. They lost their first nine regular-season games and secured their first victory on the road against the New York Giants. The team finished the 1960s with only 12 wins. The Falcons had their first Monday Night Football game in Atlanta during the 1970 season. The 1971 season was their first with a winning record.
In the 1978 season, the Falcons qualified for the playoffs for the first time and won the Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles 14–13. The following week, they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27–20 in the Divisional Playoffs.
In 1980, after a nine game winning streak, the Falcons posted a franchise then-best record of 12–4 and captured their first NFC West division title. The next week, their dream season ended at home with a loss to the Cowboys 30–27 in the divisional playoffs. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Falcons made the playoffs but lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 30–24. Falcons coach Leeman Bennett was fired after the loss.
In 1989, the Falcons drafted CB Deion Sanders in the first round, who helped them for the next four years, setting many records for the franchise. "Neon Deion" (a.k.a. "Prime Time") had a flashy appeal and helped bring media attention to one of the league's most anonymous franchises. Sanders was also famous for playing on major league baseball teams (the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves) while simultaneously playing in the NFL.
In 1991, the Falcons drafted Brett Favre as the thirty-third overall pick. During his rookie season, he played in two games where he amassed a record of 5 passing attempts with 0 receptions and 2 interceptions. The following February, Favre was traded to the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons' 1991 season ended in a divisional playoff loss to the Washington Redskins.
In 1992, the Atlanta Falcons opened a new chapter in their history moving into the newly constructed Georgia Dome. Head coach Jerry Glanville had never wanted to draft Brett Favre and traded him to the Packers.
In 1998, under recently acquired head coach Dan Reeves, quarterback Chris Chandler and running back Jamal Anderson led the "Dirty Bird" Falcons to their greatest season to date. On November 8, they won 41–10 over the New England Patriots, ending a streak of 22 losses at cold-weather sites. The team finished with a franchise best 14–2 regular season record and the NFC West division championship. On January 18, 1999, the Falcons upset the top-seeded 15–1 Vikings at Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game, 30–27 in an epic overtime victory. However, in their first-ever Super Bowl appearance, they were defeated 34–19, by the defending champion Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.
In the 2001 NFL Draft, the Falcons orchestrated a trade with the San Diego Chargers, acquiring the first overall pick (which was used on quarterback Michael Vick) in exchange for wide receiver Tim Dwight and the fifth overall pick (used on running back LaDainian Tomlinson). Co-founder of Home Depot Arthur Blank purchased the Falcons franchise on December 6, 2001. Michael Vick saw minimal playing time in 2001, playing backup and learning the system under starting QB Chris Chandler. Vick was the named starting quarterback for the 2002 season, their first in the more geographically-accurate NFC South. Setting many records and supplying the media with numerous highlights for the season, including rushing for 173 yards in an overtime win at Minnesota, the highest single-game rushing total for an NFL quarterback ever, Vick led the Falcons to the playoffs. During their ensuing playoff run, the Falcons were the first team in history to claim a playoff win over the Green Bay Packers 27–7 in Lambeau Field. Their season ended with a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles 20–6 in the divisional playoffs.
On March 19, 2003, the Falcons presented their new logo. “The new Atlanta Falcons logo is fresh, strong and dynamic, and yet appreciates the tradition and history of this franchise,” said Falcons owner and CEO Arthur Blank. “The new logo depicts a more powerful, aggressive Falcon – one of fast movement. It is also representative of the evolution and direction of our team.” During the 2003 preseason Michael Vick broke his leg and missed the first twelve games of the season. After losing 7 straight games, the decision was made to release head coach Dan Reeves. Wade Phillips acted as interim coach for the final 3 games. Although the Falcons won 3 of their last 4 games after the return of Michael Vick, they ended up with a dismal 5–11 record that year.
New head coach Jim L. Mora was hired and Michael Vick returned for the full season, when the Falcons went 11–5, winning their third division title and earn a first-round bye into the playoffs. In the divisional playoffs, the Falcons defeated the St. Louis Rams 47–17 in the Georgia Dome, advancing to the NFC Championship, which they lost to the Eagles 27–10. The Falcons fell short again of achieving back-to-back winning seasons in 2005, going 8–8. In 2006, Michael Vick became the first quarterback in league history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season, with 1,039. After finishing the season 7–9, however, coach Jim Mora was dismissed and Bobby Petrino, the University of Louisville's football coach, replaced him. Before the 2007, Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after pleading guilty to charges involving dog fighting in the state of Virginia. On December 10, 2007, Vick received a 23-month prison sentence and was officially cut from the Atlanta roster. In the beginning of the 2007 season, the Falcons were forced to start Joey Harrington at quarterback. On December 11, 13 games into his first NFL season as head coach, Bobby Petrino resigned without notice to coach at the University of Arkansas, leaving the beleaguered players only a note in the locker room. Secondary Coach Emmitt Thomas was named interim coach for the final three games of 2007 on December 12. The Falcons ended the year with a dismal 4–12 record.
On January 13, 2008, the Falcons named the former Patriots director of college football scouting Thomas Dimitroff General Manager. On January 23, 2008, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coach and former linebackers coach for the 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens Mike Smith was named the Falcons' new head coach. On March 2, Michael Turner agreed to a 6-year deal worth $30 million. On April 26, Matt Ryan (quarterback from Boston College) was drafted third overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games in his rookie season and was named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Falcons finished the 2008 regular season with a record of 11–5. On December 21, 2008, Atlanta Falcons beat the Minnesota Vikings 24–17 to clinch a wild card spot, earning a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Falcons would go on to lose in the wild-card round of the 2008 NFL playoffs to the eventual NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, 30–24.
The Atlanta Falcons hold the record among all major American sports leagues for the longest streak of seasons without consecutive winning seasons, a streak that lasted from 1966–2008. Though they failed to make the playoffs, the streak ended in 2009 when the Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20–10 in the final game of the season to improve their record to 9–7. In 2010, with a regular season record of 13–3, their best regular season record since the 1998 Super Bowl season, the Falcons secured a third straight winning season, their fourth overall divisional title, and the top overall seed in the NFC playoffs; however, the Falcons were overpowered by the eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs 48–21.
Main article: 2011 Atlanta Falcons seasonThe Falcons made a surprise trade up with the Cleveland Browns in the 2011 NFL Draft to select Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. In exchange, the Falcons gave up their first, second and fourth round draft picks in 2011, and their first and fourth draft picks in 2012.
On August 30, 2011, Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King, who correctly predicted the 2011 Super Bowl, made his predictions this year and picked the Falcons to defeat the San Diego Chargers in the 2012 Super Bowl.
Atlanta Falcons uniform: 1971–1977Atlanta Falcons uniform: 1997–2002When the team debuted in 1966, the Falcons wore red helmets with a black falcon crest logo. In the center of the helmet was a center black stripe surrounded by 2 gold stripes and 2 white stripes, These colors represented the two college rival schools in the state of Georgia; rival schools Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (White and Gold) and the Georgia Bulldogs (Red and Black) Although the gold was later taken out, the white remains to this day. They wore white pants and either black or white jerseys. At first, the falcon crest logo was also put on the jersey sleeves, but it was replaced by a red and white stripe pattern four years later. They switched from black to red jerseys in 1971, and the club began to wear silver pants in 1978.
A prototype white helmet was developed for the team prior to the 1974 season but was never worn.
In 1990, the uniform design changed to black helmets, silver pants, and either black or white jerseys. The numbers on the white jerseys were black, but were changed to red in 1997. (The red numerals could be seen on the away jerseys briefly in 1990.)
Both the logo and uniforms changed in 2003. The logo was redesigned with red and silver accents to depict a more powerful, aggressive falcon, which now more closely resembles the capital letter F. Although the Falcons still wore black helmets, the new uniforms featured jerseys and pants with red trim down the sides. The uniform design consisted of either black or white jerseys, and either black or white pants. During that same year, a red alternate jersey with black trim was also introduced. The Falcons also started wearing black cleats with these uniforms.
In 2004, the red jerseys became the primary jerseys, and the black ones became the alternate, both worn with white pants. In select road games, the Falcons wear black pants with white jerseys. The Falcons wore an all-black combination for home games against their archrivals, the New Orleans Saints, winning the first two contests (24–21 in 2004 and 36–17 in 2005), but losing 31–13 in 2006. The Falcons wore the all black combination against the New Orleans Saints for 4 straight seasons starting in 2004, With the last time being in 2007, losing 34–14. They wore the combination again in 2006, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. The Falcons won that game, 14–3. The Falcons also wore their all-black uniform in 2007 against the New York Giants, and in 2008 against the Carolina Panthers and against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (for the second time).
In the 1980s, the Falcons wore their white uniforms at home most of the time because of the heat. When the Falcons started playing in a dome, the team switched to their dark uniforms for home games but have worn their white uniforms at home a few times since switching to the dome. It was announced at the 2009 state of the franchise meeting that the Falcons would wear 1966 throwback uniforms for a couple games during the 2009 season. The Atlanta Falcons wore 1966 throwback jerseys for 2 home games in 2009 – against the Carolina Panthers on September 20 and against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 29. Both of those game the Falcons won. They donned the throwbacks again for 2 games in 2010, against Baltimore and San Francisco, winning both of those games as well.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties
|Team ||W ||L ||T ||Percent ||Last result ||Last date ||Last locale ||Postseason |
|San Diego Chargers||7||1||0||.875||W 22–16||Nov 30, 2008||San Diego|
|Carolina Panthers||22||12||0||.647||W 31-23||Dec 12, 2011||Charlotte|
|New York Jets||6||4||0||.600||W 10–7||Dec 20, 2009||East Rutherford|
|Buffalo Bills||6||4||0||.600||W 31–3||Dec 27, 2009||Atlanta|
|New Orleans Saints||46||39||0||.553||L 26-23(OT)||Nov 13, 2011||Atlanta||1–0 postseason|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||18||19||0||.486||L 16–13||Sep 25, 2011||Tampa Bay|
|Chicago Bears||13||13||0||.500||L 30–12||Sep 11, 2011||Chicago|
|New York Giants||10||10||0||.500||L 34–31||Nov 22, 2009||New York|
|Houston Texans||1||1||0||.500||W 26–16||Sep 30, 2007||Atlanta|
|New England Patriots||6||6||0||.500||L 10–26||Sep 27, 2009||Foxborough|
|Baltimore Ravens||2||2||0||.500||W 26–21||Nov 11, 2010||Atlanta|
|Green Bay Packers||13||15||0||.464||L 25–14||Oct 9, 2011||Atlanta||1–2 postseason|
|Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans||6||7||0||.462||W 23–17||Nov 20, 2011||Atlanta|
|Denver Broncos||4||9||0||.444||L 24–20||Nov 16, 2008||Atlanta||0–1 postseason|
|St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals||11||15||0||.423||W 41–7||Sep 19, 2010||Atlanta||0–1 postseason|
|Cincinnati Bengals||5||7||0||.417||W 39–32||Oct 24, 2010||Atlanta|
|Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders||5||7||0||.417||W 24–0||Nov 2, 2008||Oakland|
|Philadelphia Eagles||12||17||1||.414||W 35–31||Sep 18, 2011||Atlanta||1–2 postseason|
|Minnesota Vikings||11||16||0||.407||W 24–14||Nov 27, 2011||Atlanta||1–1 postseason|
|San Francisco 49ers||30||44||1||.399||W 16–14||Oct 3, 2010||Atlanta||1–0 postseason|
|Seattle Seahawks||6||8||0||.385||W 30-28||Oct 2, 2011||Seattle|
|Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams||27||47||2||.368||W 34–17||Nov 21, 2010||St. Louis||1–0 postseason|
|Miami Dolphins||4||7||0||.364||W 19–7||Sep 13, 2009||Atlanta|
|Dallas Cowboys||8||16||0||.333||L 37–21||Oct 25, 2009||Dallas||0–2 postseason|
|Detroit Lions||11||23||0||.324||W 23-16||Oct 23, 2011||Detroit|
|Washington Redskins||6||15||1||.295||W 31–17||Nov 8, 2009||Atlanta||0–1 postseason|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||1||3||0||.250||L 13–7||Sep 16, 2007||Jacksonville|
|Kansas City Chiefs||2||5||0||.286||W 38–14||Sep 21, 2008||Atlanta|
|Cleveland Browns||3||10||0||.231||W 20–10||Oct 10, 2010||Cleveland|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||3||12||1||.167||L 15–9 (OT)||Sep 12, 2010||Pittsburgh|
|Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts||2||13||0||.133||W 31–7||Nov 6, 2011||Indianapolis|
- Rushing: Michael Turner, 220 9/7/2008
- Passing: Chris Chandler, 431 12/23/2001
- Passing Touchdowns: Wade Wilson, 5 12/13/92
- Receptions: William Andrews, 15 11/15/1981
- Receiving Yards:Roddy White, 210 10/11/09
- Interceptions:Many times 2 Last by Brent Grimes, 12/20/2009
- Field Goals:Norm Johnson, 6 11/13/1994
- Total Touchdowns': T.J. Duckett, 4 12/12/2004 & Michael Turner 4, 11/23/08
- Points Scored:.T.J. Duckett,24 12–12–04 24 & Michael Turner 24 11/23/2008
- Sacks: Chuck Smith, 5 10/12/97
- Passing Attempts: 571 Matt Ryan (2010)
- Passing Completions: 357 Matt Ryan (2010)
- Passing Yards: 4,143 Jeff George (1995)
- Passing Touchdowns: 31 Steve Bartkowski (1980)
- Passing Interceptions: 25 Bobby Hebert (1996)
- Completion Percentage: 62.5 Matt Ryan (2010)
- Passing Rating: 110.2 Wade Wilson (1992)
- Rushing Attempts: 410 Jamal Anderson (1998)
- Rushing Yards: 1,846 Jamal Anderson (1998)
- Rushing Touchdowns: 17 Michael Turner (2008)
- Receiving Catches: 115 Roddy White (2010)
- Receiving Yards: 1,389 Roddy White (2010)
- Receiving Touchdowns: 15 Andre Rison (1993)
- Quarterback Sacks: 16.5 John Abraham (2008)
- Pass Interceptions: 10 Scott Case (1988)
- Field Goal Attempts: 40 Jay Feely (2002)
- Field Goals Made: 32 Jay Feely (2002)
- Points: 138 Jay Feely (2002)
- Total Touchdowns: 17 Michael Turner (2008)
- Passing Attempts: 3,329 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85)
- Passing Completions: 1,870 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85)
- Passing Yards: 23,468 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85)
- Passing Touchdowns: 154 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85)
- Passing Interceptions: 141 Steve Bartkowski (1975–85)
- Passing Rating: 87.4 Chris Chandler (1997–2001)
- Rushing Attempts: 1,587 Gerald Riggs (1982–88)
- Rushing Yards: 6,631 Gerald Riggs (1982–88)
- Rushing Yards by a QB: 3,859 Michael Vick (2001–2006)
- Rushing Touchdowns: 48 Gerald Riggs (1982–88)
- Receiving Catches: 573 Terance Mathis (1994–2001)
- Receiving Yards: 7,349 Terance Mathis (1994–2001)
- Receiving Touchdowns: 57 Terance Mathis (1994–2001)
- Quarterback Sacks: 94.5 Claude Humphrey (1968–78)
- Pass Interceptions: 39 Rolland Lawrence (1973–81)
- Field Goal Attempts: 164 Mick Luckhurst (1981–87)
- Field Goals Made: 139 Morten Andersen (1995–2000, 2006–2007)
- Points: 620 Morten Andersen (1995–2000, 2006–2007)
- Total Touchdowns: 57 Terance Mathis (1994–2001)
- Pass Interception Return Yards:
- Pass Interception Returned for Touchdowns:
- Punt Return Yards:
- Kickoff Return Yards:
- Longest Punt:
|Atlanta Falcons roster*view*talk|
|‹See Tfd›AFC East: BUF · MIA · NE · NYJ • North: BAL · CIN · CLE · PIT • South: HOU · IND · JAC · TEN • West: DEN · KC · OAK · SD NFC East: DAL · NYG · PHI · WAS • North: CHI · DET · GB · MIN • South: ATL · CAR · NO · TB • West: ARI · STL · SF · SEA|
- 21 Deion Sanders, CB, played for team from 1989–1993, inducted in 2011
Deion is the only Hall of Famer that has been inducted based substantially on his service with the Falcons; however, two inductees played briefly for the Falcons during their careers:
Note: The Atlanta Falcons organization does not officially retire jersey numbers.
- 10 Steve Bartkowski, QB, 1975–1985
- 21 Deion Sanders, CB, 1989–1993
- 31 William Andrews, RB, 1979–1983, 1986
- 57 Jeff Van Note, C, 1969–1986
- 58 Jessie Tuggle, LB, 1987–2000
- 60 Tommy Nobis, LB, 1966–1976
- 78 Mike Kenn, T, 1978–1994
- 87 Claude Humphrey, DE, 1968–1978
- 60 Tommy Nobis, LB, 1966–1976
- 87 Claude Humphrey, DE, 1968–1978
- 57 Jeff Van Note, C, 1969–1986
- Marion Campbell, Head Coach, 1974–1976, 1987–1989 (also former University of Georgia player)
- 84 Alfred Jenkins, WR, 1975–1983
- 31 William Andrews, RB, 1979–1983, 1986
- Dan Reeves, Head Coach, 1997–2003 (also Georgia native)
|Norb Hecker||1966–1968||4–26–1 (.129)||Fired after three games in 1968.|
|Norm Van Brocklin||1968–1974||39–48–3 (.433)||Fired after eight games in 1974.|
|Marion Campbell||1974–1976||6–19 (.240)||Fired after five games in 1976.|
|Pat Peppler||1976||3–6 (.333)||Interim head coach.|
|Leeman Bennett||1977–1982||46–41 (.529)|
|Dan Henning||1983–1986||22–41–1 (.344)|
|Marion Campbell||1987–1989||11–36 (.234)||Retired after 12 games in 1989.|
|Jim Hanifan||1989||0–4 (.000)||Interim head coach.|
|Jerry Glanville||1990–1993||27–37 (.422)|
|June Jones||1994–1996||19–29 (.396)|
|Dan Reeves||1997–2003||49–59–1 (.450)||Fired after 13 games in 2003.|
|Wade Phillips||2003||2–1 (.667)||Interim head coach.|
|Jim Mora||2004–2006||26–22 (.542)|
|Bobby Petrino||2007||3–10 (.231)||Resigned after 13 games to take over Arkansas Razorbacks.|
|Emmitt Thomas||2007||1–2 (.333)||Interim head coach.|
|Mike Smith||2008–Present||37–15 (.688)|
|Atlanta Falcons staff*v*d|
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
|AFC East: BUF · MIA · NE · NYJ • North: BAL · CIN · CLE · PIT • South: HOU · IND · JAC · TEN • West: DEN · KC · OAK · SD NFC East: DAL · NYG · PHI · WAS • North: CHI · DET · GB · MIN • South: ATL · CAR · NO · TB • West: ARI · STL · SF · SEA|
As of 2011, the Falcons' radio flagship station is WSTR Star 94 FM, and WQXI 790 AM "The Zone", previously held since 2006 by WZGC 92.9 "Dave FM."  Wes Durham, voice of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and son of longtime North Carolina Tar Heels voice Woody Durham, is the Falcons' play-by-play announcer. Preseason games not shown nationally television (except NBC-aired games) are seen on NBC affiliate WXIA, also known as "11 Alive." In 2008, preseason games aired on WATL-TV due to WXIA's commitment to the 2008 Summer Olympics. Both stations are owned by Gannett Company.
Fox affiliate WAGA-TV aired most preseason games through the 2004 season. WAGA continues to have a relationship with the Falcons as their primary broadcaster of regular season games (serving in this capacity since the Falcons started play), which dates back to when WAGA was a CBS affiliate and the NFL/NFC games were on CBS. WATL aired most Falcons games in 1994, as WAGA did not switch to Fox until December 1994.
Atlanta Falcon fans are more prevalent in western North Carolina due to the fact the Carolina Panthers only existed since 1996. Historically, they can be found generally west of Interstate 26 from Asheville to Murphy. East of Interstate 26 is considered a neutral zone but eventually, the majority were Washington Redskin fans.
A delegation from the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, on January 26, 2009 traveled to the Guantánamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba, to sign autographs, and enhance the troops' morale. While there, the cheerleaders toured the detention camps' hospital, and Camp IV, Camp V, & Camp VI.