Noted Atlanta businessman and philanthropist, Rankin Smith, wanted a football team for the city. The NFL offered him an expansion franchise to prevent the rival American Football League from doing so.
The Falcons compiled a 12-43-1 record in their first four seasons. In 1971, the Falcons posted their first winning record, going 7-6-1, but would not make the playoffs until 1978, when they posted a 9-7 record.
The Falcons franchise has been characterized during their history by long stretches of futility, broken up by short periods of success. They have made the playoffs ten times in 45 years, and never in consecutive seasons.
They look to change that with the coming season.
For the first time in team history, the Falcons have posted consecutive winning seasons, currently three.
This slideshow is designed to look back at the first 45 years before looking ahead to the next.
This list was compiled using the "Approximate Value" statistic, as calculated at www.football-reference.com, and explained here.