HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 29: Tony Gonzales #88 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball against the AFC team during the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 29, 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Roger Goodell is a cagey politician. When he encourages a team to do something, it's almost as sinister and nebulous as when he drops his mighty hammer upon a team like...oh, I dunno, the Saints.
So bear that all in mind as I bring you the knowledge that in the event of a new stadium, Roger Goodell would "encourage" the Falcons to go ahead and apply to host a Super Bowl. New stadiums have a long and noble history of playing host to the NFL's biggest game, so this isn't a surprise. But it is noteworthy, nonetheless.
Why? Because the Falcons have not hosted a Super Bowl in a dozen years, despite offering up a nice domed stadium in a major Southern city. The reason for that, for those of you who remember 2000, was an ice storm that crippled the city leading up to the Super Bowl that year. It was enough of a problem that it scared the NFL off, and the Georgia Dome hasn't gotten any younger in the intervening years.
A new stadium would certainly make that prospect a lot brighter. The Falcons have been kicking around the idea of a domed, retractable or open-air stadium, but any way you slice it, a brand new one significantly increases their chances of getting a Super Bowl in town. Goodell knew that, and that's why he told the AJC that. It's part motivation for the Falcons, part motivation for the city of Atlanta.
It's fair to say this point will be moot for a while longer, given that the stadium probably won't be off the ground for a few years, regardless. But it's still something to look forward to, particularly if the Falcons can actually play in a Super Bowl they host.
Best guess at when the Falcons will host a Super Bowl again?