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The Atlanta Falcons are an American football team based in Atlantamarker, Georgiamarker. They are currently a member of the NFC 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. In their 43 years of existence, the Falcons have compiled a record of 275–399–6 with division championships in 1980, 1998 and 2004. They have one Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999.

Franchise history

Once a stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was built, Atlantans felt the time was ripe 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. On June 30 Rankin Smith and the NFL were the choice.

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 had their first season in , and their first preseason game on August 1, , 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 Atlantamarker during the 1970 season. The 1971 season was their first with a winning record.

In the 1978 season, the Falcons entered their first playoff series and won the Wild Card Playoffs against the Eagles only to lose to the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Playoffs. In 1980, they finished 12–4 only to lose again to the Cowboys 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. After the 1982 season, the Atlanta Falcons did not see another playoff series until 1991, when they lost to the Washington Redskins in the Divisional Playoffs.

Led by quarterback Chris Chandler and running back Jamal Anderson, the "Dirty Bird" Falcons had their greatest season to date in 1998. On November 8, they won 41-10 over the New England Patriots, snapping a streak of 22 consecutive losses at cold-weather sites in November and December that had dated back to 1982. The team finished with a 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 Minnesotamarker in the NFC Championship Game, 30–27 in overtime. They lost, 34–19, to the 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). Michael Vick became backup to starting QB Chris Chandler, and was the full-time starting quarterback by 2002. He lead them to the playoffs in 2002 only to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles once again in the Divisional Playoffs. During the 2003 preseason Michael Vick broke his leg and missed the first twelve games of the season. The Falcons ended up with a dismal 5–11 record that year.

Vick returned for the full season in , when the Falcons went 11–5. They made it to the Conference Championship, once again losing to the Eagles. The Falcons failed yet again to maintain back-to-back winning seasons in , going 8–8. The , the Falcons had a chance to make the playoffs until the New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins, helping to seal their record at a losing 7–9. In 2007, Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after pleading guilty to charges involved with dog fighting in the state of Virginia. On December 10, Vick received a 23 month sentence. In the beginning of the 2007 season, the Falcons were forced to put Joey Harrington as starting quarterback. On December 11, 13 games into his first NFL season as coach, Bobby Petrino resigned, then accepted an offer to take over as the head coach at the University of Arkansas. Secondary Coach Emmitt Thomas was named interim coach for the final three games of 2007 on December 12.

On January 13, 2008, Atlanta Falcons named the former Patriot's 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 winning Baltimore Ravens Mike Smith was named the Falcons' new head coach. On March 2, former back-up to LaDainian Tomlinson on the San Diego Chargers Michael Turner agreed to a 6 year deal worth 30 million. On April 26, Matt Ryan (Quarterback from Boston College) was drafted 3rd 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.

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 finished the 2008 regular season with a record of 11–5. 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.

Logo and uniforms

Atlanta Falcons uniform: 1971-1977
Atlanta Falcons uniform: 1997-2002
When 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 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, primarily wearing white pants with the white jerseys and white pants with the red jerseys. The Falcons also in select road games wear black pants with white jerseys. In the past three seasons, 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 and 36–17 in ), but losing 31–13 in . They wore the combination again in 2006, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. The Falcons won that game as well, 14–3. 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. The Falcons also wore their all black uniform in 2007 against the New York Giants, and in 2008 against the Carolina Panthers along with another game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (for the second time).

In the 1980s, the Falcons wore their white uniforms at home most of the time due to the heat. When the Falcons started playing in the dome, the team switched to their dark uniforms. The Falcons have worn their white uniforms at home a few times since 2000 after 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 will wear 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.


Season-by-season records

Record vs. opponents

Includes postseason records

San Diego Chargers 7 1 0 .875 W 22-16 Nov 30, 2008 San Diego
Carolina Panthers 19 13 0 .594 L 28-19
|| Nov 15, 2009 || Carolina ||
New Orleans Saints 45 35 0 .571 L 35-27 Nov 02, 2009 New Orleansmarker 1-0 postseason
Buffalo Bills 5 4 0 .555 W 24-16 Sep 25, 2005 Orchard Park, NYmarker
New York Jets 5 4 0 .555 W 27-14 Oct 24, 2005 Atlanta
New England Patriots 6 6 0 .500 L 10-26 Sep 27, 2009 Foxborough, MA
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
Green Bay Packers 5 19 0 .192 W 27-24 Oct 5, 2008 Green Baymarker 1-1 postseason
Chicago Bears 12 12 0 .500 W 21-14 Oct 18, 2009 Atlantamarker
St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals 10 14 0 .417 L 30-24 Jan 3, 2009 Glendale, Ariz.marker 0-1 postseason
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13 18 0 .420 W 13-10 (OT) Dec 14, 2008 Atlantamarker
Philadelphia Eagles 13 15 1 .440 L 27-14 Oct 26, 2008 Philadelphiamarker 1-2 postseason
Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 5 7 0 .417 L 20-13 Oct 7, 2007 Nashvillemarker
San Francisco 49ers 28 44 1 .375 W 45-10 Oct 11, 2009 San Franciscomarker 1-0 postseason
Cincinnati Bengals 4 7 0 .364 W 29-27 Oct 29, 2006 Cincinnatimarker
Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders 5 7 0 .417 W 24-0 Nov 2, 2008 Oakland
Minnesota Vikings 10 16 0 .385 W 24-17 Dec 21, 2008 Minneapolismarker 1-1 postseason
Dallas Cowboys 12 5 0 .333 L 37-21 Oct 25, 2009 Dallas 0-2 postseason
Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams 26 47 2 .356 W 31-27 Dec 28, 2008 Atlantamarker 1-0 postseason
Baltimore Ravens 1 2 0 .333 L 24-10 Nov 19, 2006 Baltimoremarker
Denver Broncos 4 9 0 .444 L 24-20 Nov 16, 2008 Atlanta 0-1 postseason
Miami Dolphins 4 7 0 .364 W 19-7 Sep 13, 2009 Atlantamarker
Detroit Lions 10 23 0 .303 W 34-21 Sep 7, 2008 Atlanta
Seattle Seahawks 3 8 0 .273 W 44-41 Dec 30, 2007 Atlanta
Jacksonville Jaguars 1 3 0 .250 L 13-7 Sep 16, 2007 Jacksonvillemarker
Washington Redskins 6 23 1 .260 W 31-17 Nov 8, 2009 Atlanta 0-1 postseason
Cleveland Browns 2 10 0 .166 L 17-13 Nov 12, 2006 Atlanta
Kansas City Chiefs 2 5 0 .166 W 38-14 Sep 21, 2008 Atlanta
Pittsburgh Steelers 3 11 1 .143 W 41-38 (OT) Oct 22, 2006 Atlanta
Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts 1 13 0 .077 L 31-13 Nov 22, 2007 Atlantamarker
Total 277 399 6 .414 6-9 (.400)

Single season records

Career records

  • 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: 91.1 Matt Ryan (2008-present)
  • 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)

Players of note

Current roster

Pro Football Hall of Famers

No one has yet been inducted based substantially on their service with the Falcons; however, two inductees played briefly for the Falcons late in their careers:

Retired numbers

Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

  • 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 Georgia native and former University of Georgiamarker player)
  • 84 Alfred Jenkins, WR, 1975-1983
  • 31 William Andrews, RB, 1979-1983, 1986
  • Dan Reeves, Head Coach, 1997-2003 (also Georgia native)

Coaches of note

Head coaches

In their history, the Atlanta Falcons have had 15 head coaches.

Current staff

Radio and television

As of 2006, the Falcons' radio flagship station is WZGCmarker, an adult hits format station known as "Dave FM."Wes Durham, voice of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacketsmarker 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 WXIAmarker, also known as "11 Alive."In 2008, preseason games aired on WATL-TVmarker due to WXIA's commitment to the 2008 Summer Olympics.Both stations are owned by Gannett Company.

Fox affiliate WAGA-TVmarker 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 CBSaffiliate 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.

Notes and references

  6. "Falcons Uniform History", NFL
  7. "Falcons unveil New logo", NFL

External links

Norb Hecker 1966–1968 4-26-1
Norm Van Brocklin 1968–1974 39-48-3
Marion Campbell 1974–1976 6-19
Pat Peppler 1976 3-6
Leeman Bennett 1977–1982 46-41
Dan Henning 1983–1986 22-41-1
Marion Campbell 1987–1989 11-36
Jim Hanifan 1989 0-4
Jerry Glanville 1990–1993 27-37
June Jones 1994–1996 19-29
Dan Reeves 1997–2003 49-59-1
Rich Brooks 1998 2-0
Wade Phillips 2003 2-1
Jim Mora 2004–2006 26-22
Bobby Petrino 2007 3-10
Emmitt Thomas 2007 1-2
Mike Smith 2008-Present 15-7

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