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Atlanta Falcons – Established 1965

The Atlanta Falcons became a member of the NFL’s South Division back in 1965 as an expansion deal. As the story goes, after construction on the Atlanta-Fulton Stadium was complete in 1965, the city decided to pursue a professional football franchise. After months of back and forth, the NFL ended up offering then-owner Rankin Smith exclusive stadium rights for Atlanta Stadium. A move to keep him from taking the franchise to the competing American Football League (AFL).
After paying a then-record $8.5 million for the rights to a franchise, the Falcons became the 15th team in the NFL. The new franchise was subsequently awarded the first overall pick in the upcoming 1966 NFL draft and the 15th pick in the first five rounds. Atlanta selected Tommy Nobis as the first-ever Falcon.
Right off the bat, the Falcons struggled. They started with an 0-9 record in their first nine games before beating the New York Giants on Nov. 20 for their first franchise victory. They ended up with just two winning seasons over the next decade.
Things haven’t gone much better in the 66 years since the Falcons’ inaugural season with just 14 playoff appearances total in that span. Among those appearances, Atlanta managed five division titles and two conference championships.
The Falcons have two Super Bowl appearances as a franchise, both within the last 25 years. In 1998, Dan Reeves led the Falcons to a 14-2 record and took home Coach of The Year honors. After beating the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship, the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos in the title game.
Atlanta’s next trip to the Super Bowl would go down as the biggest comeback in the game’s history. The Matt Ryan-led Falcons came out to a 28-3 lead over the Patriots before losing in overtime to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Since 2017, the Falcons have not finished the season with a winning record and are in the midst of a ground-up rebuild. For now, they remain one of few NFL teams never to have won a championship.