Atlanta Falcons Team History

The date June 30, 1965, always will be remembered as both a termination and a commencement in the history of Atlanta sports. On this day Atlanta successfully ended their many and disparate struggles to place a professional football team in the Southeast's key metropolis. At the same time the Atlanta Falcons were born and began a storied tenure in the National Football League. The team’s first head coach was Norb Hecker, a former assistant to the legendary Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. Linebacker Tommy Nobis was the team’s first draft pick; in 1966 he captured the NFL rookie of the year award. The Atlanta Falcons began their first NFL season in the NFL Eastern Conference, playing a "swing schedule", consisting of playing every other team once, in order to make up for the disparity of an odd number of teams. Their first game (preseason) was on August 1, 1966 against the Philadelphia Eagles before a crowd of 26,072 at the Atlanta Stadium.

Atlanta Falcons Chronological History

Atlanta is granted franchise rights. The first coach is Norb Hecker who worked previously as an assistant to Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers.
Falcons win first season opener ever, beating 49ers, 24-12, before home fans. Rookie Tight End Jim Mitchell scored two TD's and club set team record with 229 yards rushing.
With 35-7 final win over Saints, Falcons establish new NFL modern day record for 14-game season by allowing just 129 points all year as club finishes 7-7.
The Falcons post a 9-7 record and qualify for post season play for the first time.
The Falcons win the Western Division but lose to the Cowboys in the second round of the playoffs.
The Falcons return to the playoff's yet again.
The Falcons announce plans for their 25th Anniversary season that include going back to their original black jerseys of 1966. In addition black helmets are unveiled along with the 25th anniversary logo patches for the uniforms.
Former Quarterback June Jones returns to the team as head coach (He played in the 1978 season).
Rankin Smith died at the age of 72 on the eve of a Sunday Night game against Carolina. This game aired on TNT, part of Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System - which is based in Atlanta. In fact, this is the last NFL game aired on TNT to date.
The Falcons post a 14-2 record and win the NFC Western.
The Falcons compete in Superbowl XXXIII. Unfortunately the Falcons were beaten soundly and scored two late touchdowns, one on a 94-yard kickoff return by Tim Dwight, to make the score a more respectable final of 34-19.
NFL Draft, the Falcons orchestrated a trade with the San Diego Chargers to attain the #1 overall draft pick with which they chose the electrifying sophomore QB Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech.
In a special meeting in New Orleans on February 2, 2002, NFL owners vote unanimously to approve the sale of the Falcons to Arthur Blank. Additionally, the Falcons became part of the NFC South division, after 30+ seasons in the geographically inaccurate NFC West.
In front of a crowd of several hundred fans at the Mall of Georgia in Buford, Ga., the Falcons unveiled their new uniforms, a change for the first time since 1990. Falcons fans voiced their approval as LB Keith Brooking, TE Alge Crumpler, RB Warrick Dunn, DE Patrick Kerney, WR Peerless Price and QB Michael Vick modeled the new threads.
Vick signed a 10-year, $130 million contract with a $37 million signing bonus, the richest contract in NFL history at the time.
The Falcons spent most of the 2007 season trying to overcome the controversy surrounding Vick and his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring. Under considerable pressure, the NFL barred Vick from attending training camp pending its own investigation into the matter. For all intents and purposes, the Falcons' season effectively ended when Vick was arraigned on federal dog fighting charges on July 26
Matt Ryan, a quarterback from Boston College, was drafted third overall to be the new face of the franchise.
Atlanta narrowly defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-28 in the Divisional round after blowing a 27-7 3rd-quarter lead. The Seahawks took a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left, but Ryan quickly led the Falcons downfield to set up Matt Bryant's game-winning 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining. Atlanta would go on to host the NFC Championship Game and face the San Francisco 49ers.

Atlanta Falcons Franchise Information

  • Franchise Granted: 1965
  • First Season: 1966
  • 1966 - Present Atlanta Falcons

A fan contest was held and the team received more than 1,300 entries suggesting 558 different names. Although several entries in a fan contest suggested Falcons, a schoolteacher was declared the winner because of her reason “…the falcon is proud and dignified with great courage and fight.”

Atlanta Falcons - Stadium

Atlanta Falcons Stadium

Georgia Dome

One Georgia Dome Dr., N.W.
Atlanta, GA 30313-1591
(404)223-9200 Opened: August, 1992
Capacity: 71,500-football;20,000+ as arena
Surface: Artificial Turf
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Hawks
Peach Bowl
SEC Football & Basketball
USA/Mobil Indoor Track and Field

Previous Stadiums

Atlanta - Fulton County Stadium (1966-1991)

League Championships


Conference Championships

1998 (NFC)

Division Championships

1990 (NFC West), 1998 (NFC West), 2004 (NFC South), 2012 (NFC South)

Wild Card Wins

1991 (NFC West), 2002 (NFC South)

Years in Playoffs

1978, 1980, 1982, 1991, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons history


Mike Smith
2008 -
Emmitt Thomas
Bobby Petrino
Jim Mora
2004 - 2006
Wade Phillips
Dan Reeves
1997 - 2003
June Jones
1994 - 1996
Jerry Glanville
1990 - 1993
Jim Hanifan
Marion Campbell
1987 - 1989
Dan Henning
1983 - 1986
Leeman Bennett
1977 - 1982
Pat Peppler
Marion Campbell
1974 - 1976
Norm Van Brocklin
1968 - 1974
Norb Hecker
1966 - 1968

Retired Numbers


Hall of Fame Members

Eric Dickerson
Tommy McDonald
Norm Van Brocklin
1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974