Still looking for first championship, Atlanta Falcons turn 50

On June 30, 1965, the only pro football franchise in Atlanta’s history was approved to become the 15th team in the National Football League. Fifty years later, that team is still going strong in the city of Atlanta, and some would argue that there’s never been more passion for the Falcons.

The franchise celebrated its 50th birthday on Tuesday to little fanfare other than a few social media posts on the team’s accounts. In those 50 years, the Falcons have amassed an overall record of 322-424-6, and a postseason record of 7-12.

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Nineteen playoff games in 50 years. Some teams have played in more in the last 10 years.

But that’s been the legacy of the first half-century of Falcons Football. It almost wouldn’t seem right to have a Lombardi Trophy in the case with the ups and downs this franchise has seen. They’ve had 16 different head coaches, soon to be 17 with Dan Quinn. Since 1969, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had three.

But the Falcons have never been a shining symbol of success. They’ve tried really hard lately, but they still have just one Super Bowl appearance to reward them for all the trying, and none in this millennium.

But let’s raise a glass to these Falcons and blow out a few candles. The next 50 years can’t possibly be as mediocre as these first 50.

Some fun facts about the Falcons’ first 50 years:

– They’ve defeated and been defeated by every team, but their 8-1 record against the San Diego Chargers is their best against any team.

– The Falcons have more losses to the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams than any other team. They’ve lost 47 times to those guys.

– Conversely, the Falcons have won more games against the New Orleans Saints than any other team; they’ve beaten the Saints 48 times, and their second-highest win total is 29 against the San Francisco 49ers.

– Mike Smith is the winningest head coach in Falcons history, with 66 wins. Matt Ryan is the franchise’s leading passer, with 28,166 passing yards, and no receiver has collected more yards in a Falcons uniform than Roddy White (10,357 yards).

– The Falcons were named by Julia Elliott, a schoolteacher in Griffin, Georgia, during an essay competition to name the team, according to The Falcoholic.

– Atlanta holds a winning record against all three teams in the NFC South: 48-43 against the Saints, 24-16 against the Carolina Panthers and 22-21 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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