43 years ago today, the Atlanta Falcons franchise was born, and what a run it has been. While the Falcons have been one of the least successful franchises in sports in that time frame, there has been no shortage of stories to keep us all entertained.
To honor the birthday, and the upcoming 44th season of Falcons football, I figured I would blog for the first time about the team.
In 2004, Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports writer Matt Winkeljohn released a book entitled “Tales from the Atlanta Falcons Sideline” that chronicled the organization since its inception in 1966. I figured I would share some of these fun facts with you guys in today’s blog, since they are interesting for any reader, whether you are a fan of the Falcons or not.
– National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle was eager to get a team in Atlanta in the 1960s, and fought the rival American Football League’s bid to get their own team in the Capital of the South. Had it not been for Rozelle’s success in the battle with the AFL, the Falcons would likely be paired with the Texans, Titans, and Jaguars in what is now known as the AFC South, if they still existed at all.
– Rankin Smith, the former owner of the Falcons, originally wanted to bring a professional baseball team to Atlanta instead of a football team.
– The Falcons almost were named after several other mascots. They could have easily been the Peaches, Goobers, Knights, Thrashers, Rebels, Rhetts, Baptists, or Yellow Dogs (a wonderful pairing of the mascots of the two biggest colleges in Georgia). A contest to name the team was announced around the city, and “Falcons” was the winning entry.
– The final game of the inaugural 1966 season was coined “Tech and Georgia Day”, in which all players from UGA and Georgia Tech were moved from the practice squad to the starting roster. The game was a huge failure (but the rest of the season wasn’t much better), and none of those players who were given the opportunity to play were retained for the 1967 season.
– As for that 1967 season, none of the 16 players chosen in the 1967 Draft ever played a single down in a Falcons uniform. Atlanta traded their first-round draft pick to San Francisco (which was used for the 49ers to take quarterback Steve Spurrier), and then the Miami Dolphins took a QB by the name of Bob Griese with the next pick.
– Two words: Brett. Favre. After telling him he would never be a competent quarterback in the NFL, he was traded from the Falcons to the Green Bay Packers before the 1992 Draft.
– Most importantly, the Falcons will enter their 44th season in the NFL having never had back-to-back winning seasons. Rookie Matt Ryan helped lead the Falcons to an 11-5 regular season record last year, but history suggests that the upcoming season will be a poor one for the Falcons. This has kept many experts from jumping on the Falcons’ bandwagon this year.
So happy 43rd, Falcons; here’s to breaking franchise records this season!