The Atlanta Falcons have made an imprint on the Deep South for almost 50 years since its inception into the NFL back in 1966. The Falcons have played through flashes of greatness throughout their existence, winning division championships on five separate occasions. The late Rankin Smith founded the Falcons in 1965 when he struck a deal with former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to bring an expansion team to the city of Atlanta. The Falcons became the 15th NFL franchise in existence prior to the NFL/AFL merger.
The Atlanta Falcons have always received passionate support from its fans. Even as a lowly expansion franchise in 1966, the Falcons averaged over 56,000 people in attendance for their home games. After nine-consecutive losses, the Falcons earned their first win in franchise history on a trip to Yankee Stadium when they faced off against the New York Giants. The Falcons won their first game by a final score of 27-16.The 1978 season marked the first time the Falcons would get a taste of the playoffs, winning a Wild Card game against the Philadelphia Eagles before losing to the Dallas Cowboys. During the 1980 playoffs, the Cowboys would again end the Falcons’ season.
The Falcons landed one of the most iconic players to ever play in the NFL in 1989 when they drafted Deion Sanders out of Florida State University with the fifth pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. Sanders instantly brought extra media attention while building immense fanfare for the Falcons. Atlanta found it difficult to pass up on the speedy cornerback after he ran a 4.2-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine leading up to the draft. Sanders flourished as a Falcon, recording 24 interceptions – three of which he returned for touchdowns.
While starring for the Falcons, Sanders was also playing Major League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves. He once famously played a game for the Falcons in Miami and then flew to Pennsylvania where the Braves were participating in the National League Championship Series. Sanders, though, did not play in the Braves game where he could have become the first athlete to play in two professional leagues in the same day. Sanders played for the Falcons from 1989 to 1993 and in that time he scored 10 total touchdowns for the team.
One of the best seasons in franchise history happened in 1998, when the Falcons, behind the play of quarterback Chris Chandler and running back Jamal Anderson, went 14-2 and won the NFC West. Once in the playoffs, the Falcons pulled off one of the most memorable upsets in history when they took down the top-seeded Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game and earned a bid to play in the franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance to date. The Falcons went on to lose Super Bowl XXXIII to John Elway and the Denver Broncos.
After losing the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons fell on hard times. Two-consecutive losing seasons followed its trip to the championship game, but the result of those losing seasons changed the franchise forever. In the 2001 NFL Draft, Atlanta traded a player and the fifth overall pick to the San Diego Chargers in order to take the top spot in the draft. With the top pick in the 2001 draft, the Falcons picked Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech. Similar to Deion Sanders before him, Vick ran blazing 40-yard dash times – he was once clocked in at 4.25, the fastest time ever for an NFL quarterback. Vick was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft, despite not having played baseball since his youth. September 9, 2001 marked Michael Vick’s NFL debut, though it was in limited action. Vick’s first career start came across the Dallas Cowboys on November 11, 2001; he would throw for his first touchdown in a win against the team that had ended the Falcons’ season so many times before.
The 2002 season was when Michael Vick put his stamp on the NFL. He made 15 starts that year, which is impressive for the running-style quarterback that he was. Vick completed over 50 percent of his passes that year while throwing for 16 touchdowns, he also ran for 777 yards and eight scores. On December 1, 2002, Vick set an NFL-record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game when he ran for 173 yards against the Minnesota Vikings. His record stood for over ten years until Colin Kaepernick ran for 181 yards in 2013.
The Michael Vick era for the Falcons eventually came to an end and that paved the road for another franchise quarterback to take the helm of the franchise. In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Falcons took Matt Ryan with the third overall pick. Ryan would impact the franchise immediately, starting all 16 games during his rookie campaign and leading the team to playoffs while also being named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Atlanta Falcons endured its best season since the 1998 Super Bowl year during 2010, when the franchise went 13-3 and secured a third-consecutive winning season. The Falcons lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champions the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoffs that year. The Falcons’ 2012 season was highlighted when they sent nine players to the Pro Bowl that year.
Following the 2012 season, the Falcons decided they needed to obtain an impact player in the NFL Draft. They did just that when they made a trade with the Cleveland Browns to select Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Julio Jones, a dynamic wide receiver for the University of Alabama, teamed up with Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White in the Falcons’ receiving corp.
- Matt Ryan Autographed Jersey: This collection of signed and game-worn Matt Ryan jerseys provides the perfect centerpiece for any authentic Atlanta Falcons memorabilia collection. Ryan is the franchise quarterback for the Falcons and has led them to five winning seasons in the six years he has been in the league, making a signed Matt Ryan jersey the ultimate ode to the Atlanta superstar. The time to invest in Matt Ryan collectibles is now while he continues to solidify his place in NFL history and build on what already looks like a Hall of Fame career.
- Atlanta Falcons Signed Football: The Atlanta Falcons have deep roots in the South dating back to 1966, and the franchise has developed a massive fan base since the team came into existence. A fantastic way to capture a specific moment in Falcons history is with an authentic signed football by one of the many all-time great NFL players from yesterday and today. With a selection of signed footballs that don signatures from Deion Sanders to Tony Gonzalez to Julio Jones, fans can commemorate players of all Falcons eras and make an investment in sports memorabilia that will acquire value well into the future.
- Julio Jones Autographed Helmet: Julio Jones is the dynamic play maker the Falcons had hoped he would be when they moved up in the NFL Draft to take him. He is going to be a pillar of the Atlanta offense for years to come and no time is better than now to invest in a Julio Jones signed helmet. Jones’ success already makes him one of the most feared wide receivers in the NFL and his career will only continue to blossom alongside quarterback, Matt Ryan, and fellow wide receiver, Roddy White. Therefore, no Falcons collection would be complete without an autographed Julio Jones helmet with official Atlanta logos and team colors.
- Signed Roddy White Photos: Roddy White has been racking up receiving yards for the Atlanta Falcons since 2005 and dominating the field as a key contributor for his team. As one of the most accomplished wide receivers in the NFL, White is a fan-favorite after making a splash in the league. Preserve the career of four-time Pro Bowler for a lifetime with one of these excellent autographed Roddy White photos. Within the selection of Roddy White signed photos, Falcons fans can choose from images of White dominating the field or making acrobatic catches over the top of opposing defenses.
- Deion Sanders Sports Memorabilia: Deion Sanders was one of the most electrifying players in Atlanta Falcons history. From 1989 to 1993, Sanders and the Falcons shared a huge amount of success and he developed a fan base in Atlanta that still thrives today. Deion Sanders memorabilia is a great way to feature a highlight in Falcons football. From autographed Falcons jerseys to a Deion Sanders signed football, items that commemorate the former NFL sensation add value to any sports collection.