The Falcons aren't a very old team by NFL standards. Professional football has, in one fashion or another, been around in the United States since 1920. The Green Bay Packers were founded in 1921. The Bears came along in 1922. A lot of modern-day franchises have their roots in teams that were founded in the early days of professional football.
This isn't true for the Falcons, who were founded as an expansion team in 1966. Although they've had a shorter history than many teams around the league, there are still many significant events in the history of this franchise. Let's count them down.
5. 1978: the Falcons make their first postseason appearance
The Falcons finished the 1978 regular season 9-7, earning a wildcard bid for the first playoff appearance in team history. They managed to do this while scoring a total of 240 points all season, and allowing a total of 290 points. It was kind of a miracle. Atlanta beat the Eagles in the wildcard round--so it was also the first playoff win in team history--and they jumped out to a 20-13 lead against the Cowboys in the divisional round, but allowed 14 unanswered points in the second half to lose 20-27. Ouch.
4. 2001: the Falcons draft Michael Vick
In the 2001 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Michael Vick first overall. Obviously, Vick had a lot of off the field issues during his time in Atlanta, culminating in a conviction and federal prison time for dogfighting, which terminated his time in Atlanta. Vick, when healthy, was such a dynamic player, and he's the reason that many Falcons fans came to love this franchise. Vick's poor life decisions and the consequences that arose also contributed directly to #2 on this list.
3. 2002: Arthur Blank buys the Falcons
It's worth acknowledging that the Falcons have had as many playoff appearances in the 14 years that Blank has owned the team as they did in all of the 34 prior seasons combined. Blank has a real commitment to building an excellent, stable franchise, and it shows.
2. 2008: the Falcons hire Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith, draft Matt Ryan
Regardless of the drama that made them necessary, these moves ushered in the most sustained success this franchise has experienced in 48 years of existence. 2009 marked Atlanta's first consecutive winning seasons. The Falcons have been in the playoffs four out of the last six seasons, and have a cumulative record over that time period of 61-40, for a win percentage of .656.
1. 1998: the Falcons represent the NFC in Super Bowl XXXIII
Atlanta finished the regular season 14-2 and won the NFC Championship against the heavily favored Vikings on their home turf in overtime thanks to a stellar defensive performance, poise under pressure from the offense, and a missed 38-yard field goal by Minnesota's Gary Anderson. Of course, the Falcons lost to Denver in the Super Bowl, but it remains the most significant moment in Falcons history as it's the only time they've gotten there.
What would you rank as the top five most significant events in Falcons history?