These birds keep Atlanta flapping about the gridiron all year round. The Atlanta Falcons Football Club is a professional football franchise that joined the National Football League in 1966. First awarded to businessman Rankin Smith, the team has made the playoffs just nine different seasons and counts only one conference championship in 1998. (Atlanta lost that year to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.) The Georgia Dome has played host to Falcons games since 2002, the same year Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank acquired the franchise from Smith's family.
Head coach Mike Smith, who was hired in 2008 after Bobby Petrino left Atlanta after coaching just 13 games the previous season, has guided the Falcons to three consecutive seasons with winning records for the first time in franchise history. The team won its division in 2010 but lost to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.
Team founder Rankin Smith, who died in 1997, paid just $8.5 million for the expansion franchise in the 1960s and ran the Falcons until 1990 when he turned over operations to his son, Taylor. Blank purchased the team for $545 million.