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Monday, August 16, 2010

Atlanta Falcons Uniform and Team History



Please click on the evolution of the Falcons uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.

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Atlanta Falcons 1966 uniform
1966
The Atlanta Falcons came to be in 1965 when Rankin M. Smith, a life insurance executive, was awarded the team for $8.5 million. A contest to name the team was won by a schoolteacher from Griffin, Georgia, who she wrote, "The Falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It is deadly and has a great sporting tradition."

This was also the year that the Miami Dolphins were introduced to the League, being purchased by Joseph Robbie and television star Danny Thomas for $7.5 million.

Fans in Georgia bought season tickets in record numbers in 54 days they bought 45,000 season tickets, which at the time was an NFL-record for a new team. The team’s first head coach was Norb Hecker, who had been an assistant for Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. In their first season the Falcons won only three games and lost eleven, losing the first nine games to start the season. Their first win ever was played in Columbia, South Carolina where they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 24-17 in a preseason game.

This black home jersey, with white numbers trimmed in red on the front and shoulders, was the first jersey to be worn by the Falcons. Note the falcon logo on the sleeve as well as the logo on the red helmet.


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Atlanta Falcons 1968 uniform
1968
The 1968 season would mark the Falcon’s third straight losing year, finishing fourth overall in the Western Conference Coastal Division with a 2-12 record. Falcon’s fans, among the most loyal in the NFL, would still have to wait ten more years before the team would make their first playoff appearance.

In October, team owner Rankin M. Smith hired Norm Van Brocklin, former head coach of the Vikings, to replace Norm Hacker after the first 3 games of the season. Two weeks later his Falcon’s beat New York 24-21 in the first meeting between Van Brocklin and his former QB Fran Tarkenton.

You can see that on this white road jersey, the Falcon crest has been removed from the sleeves, and it has been replaced with red and black stripes.

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Atlanta Falcons 1969 uniform
1969
The Falcons start the season off with a win for the first time in the team first 4 seasons, but the team would finish with a losing record once again, 6-8. On the bright side, Atlanta was no longer a cellar dweller, finishing ahead of the last place 49ers in the Western Conferences Coastal Division.

We have shown home black jersey with white numbers and red trim. Note that the sleeve has changed, adding red and white stripes. The patch on the left shoulder marks the NFL’s 50th anniversary season (1920-1969.

The period of time between 1966 and 1969 warrants a bit of explanation. The 8 team AFL began in 1960 as a rival league to the NFL - both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and TV revenue. And thus it was for 5 years - two separate leagues, two separate champions (although few people would have honestly believed that the AFL champion could have beaten the NFL champs). Then in 1965 the two leagues agreed to merge. It was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL, and that between 1966 and 1969 the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the “World Championship”. It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name “Super Bowl” came into being.

Thus the 1966 season saw the first meeting of the AFL and NFL champions, with the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers humbling the AFL’s KC Chiefs 33-10. (Even though the game was played in 1967, most football historians refer to this as the 1966 Super Bowl because it was the culmination of the 1966 season.) The NFL superiority was on display again in 1967, when the NFL’s Packers pounded the AFL’s Raiders 33-14.
Then came 1968 and the stunning upset - the AFL’s NY Jets shocked the football world by beating the NFL’s heavily favoured Baltimore Colts 16-7.
And in Super Bowl IV, the last meeting between the AFL and NFL Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs upset the Minnesota Vikings 23-7.

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Atlanta Falcons 1971 uniform
1971
In the last game of the season with 40 seconds remaining, the Falcons defeat the Saints 24-20 to finish the season at 7-6-1. For the Falcons, this is their first winning season since their inception in 1966. Their 7-6-1 record placed them 3rd in the NFL’s Western Division. On another high note, the Falcons coach Norm Van Brocklin is named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Rookie sensation Ken Burrows made his mark by making more yardage receiving in one game than any NFC receiver. He wrote his name in the club record book not once, but TWICE. He had 190 yards at Detroit, and he duplicated that feat at New Orleans. All of this was done while playing the final 11 games with a broken wrist.

Shown here is a home red jersey, a departure from their usual home black jersey. The red jersey features white numbers and black trim. The sleeves were decorated with white and black stripes.

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Atlanta Falcons 1978 uniform
1978
After Leeman Bennett becomes the fifth head coach in club history in 1977, the Falcons are finally playoff bound in 1978. For the first time in the team’s history, they make an appearance as a wild card playoff team, by backing into the playoffs when the Redskins lose to the Bears, allowing the Falcons to enter post-season play with a 9-7-0 record.

The quarterback in this winning season was Steve Bartkowski who passed 2489 yards and had 10 touchdowns, while the leading rusher was Bubba Bean with 707 yards.

The Falcon’s first ever playoff game is played in front of their 49,447 fans on Christmas Eve against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons squeak out a win as the Eagles miss a last second field goal to give the home team a 14-13 victory.

The next week saw the Falcons go into Dallas as underdogs to the Cowboys and after going into the half with a 20-13 lead, Atlanta would not put any more points on the board while watching the Cowboys take a 27-20 lead, thus ending the Falcon’s Cinderella season.

Not the Falcon logo, along with the white and black stripes, has returned to the sleeves of this red home jersey. If you look closely, you can see that the stripes on the pants have changed.

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Atlanta Falcons 1980 uniform
1980
The Falcons storm through the regular season finishing atop the NFC Western Division for the first time with a stellar 12-4 record. In their second trip to the post season since being eliminated by the Dallas Cowboys in 1978, Atlanta takes on those same “Boys” in the NFC Divisional Playoff. After going into half time with a 17-10 lead, the Falcons watch the Cowboys score 20 points in the fourth quarter to take the game 30-27.

On this red jersey, the numbers are now grey with black trim on the front and on the shoulders. The Falcon’s logo is kept on the sleeves above the black and white stripes. Note the red belt added to this uniform. of the grey numbers and black trim on the front and shoulders. The falcon logo is kept on both sleeves above black and white stripes. Note the red belt added to this uniform.

The following year would prove to be Steve Bartkowski’s best passing year of his 12 year professional career, passing 3829 yards and 30 td’s. In total, Bartkowski would play 11 seasons with the Falcon’s, amassing 23,470 passing yards and throwing for 154 td’s.

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Atlanta Falcons 1986 uniform
1986
Atlanta has an amazing start to the season winning their first four games, only to lose five straight later in the season, finishing with a 7-8-1 record, missing the playoffs and finishing third in the NFC West.

This white jersey has red numbers and black trim on the front and shoulders. The falcon logo is on both sleeves above the black and red stripes. Note as well the striped neckline on the jersey, and the striped belt.

In their 21 year tenure, the Falcons have made the post season just three times – 1978, 1980,and 1982. Unfortunately, they have only won one post-season game which was a 14-13 victory over the Eagles in 1978.

In 1986, QB David Archer and FB Gerald Riggs had the best seasons yet of their career. Archer passed 2007 yards and 10 td’s while Riggs rushed 1353 yards and 9 td’s. Archer would go on to play 4 year for the Falcons (1984-1987), and pass for 4275 yards and 18 td’s. Riggs would play for the Falcons for 7 years (1982-1988), rushing for 6631 yards and 48 td’s.


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Atlanta Falcons 1988 uniform
1988
The downward spiral continues as the Falcons finish last in the NFC Western Division with a 5-11 record. Two bright spots on the team were corner back Scott Case who led the NFL with 10 interceptions. On the other side of the line, running back John Settle became only the third undrafted player to rush for over 1000 yards in a season.
(If you or anyone you know are aware of the names of these 2 other players, please contact ssillcox@rogers.com .) Brett Miller had a good year passing for 2133 yards and 11 td’s.

The major difference between this 1988 home jersey and the previously shown 1986 jersey is the sleeves. The red and black stripes are placed on the whole sleeve, and the Falcon logo has been placed on top of it. They have also changed the belt of the pants to red and white stripes. The jersey collar now also features a second black stripe.

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Atlanta Falcons 1990 uniform
1990
The Falcons would have little to celebrate in their 25th Anniversary year as they go 5-11. Deion “Prime Time” Sanders is a standout this season, especially in a game against the Bengals when he returns a punt for a club record 79-yard touchdown. In the off season Sanders signs with the Atlanta Braves becoming the first pro athlete to play two sports in the same city in 30 years.

Falcons owner Rankin Smith, the only owner the team has ever had, leads the way in securing Super Bowl XXVIII (to be held in January 1994) for the City of Atlanta at the NFL Owners Meeting in Dallas.

With the Dallas Cowboys coming to town, needing a win to secure a playoff berth, the Falcons close out with a second straight win and a 26-7 romp behind a club record 68-yard run by Mike Rozier. The Falcons donated 2,000 tickets from the sellout to the USO for servicemen to attend.

For their 25th anniversary, the Falcons go back to their original black jerseys with white numbers and red trim on the front and shoulders, and a patch on the left shoulder marking the 25th anniversary. The falcon logo is on both sleeves, and the stripes have been removed from the sleeves as well as the collar. To keep the colours coordinated, they have changed the belt back to black, and changed the stripes on the pants. The outside stripes are now black, with the red being outlined in white. Note also that the helmet is now black with the falcon logo on it. Quite a dramatic look!


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Atlanta Falcons 1994 uniform
1994
The Falcons moved from the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium to the brand new Georgia Dome for the 1992 season and hosted Super Bowl XXVIII on January 30, 1994 where the Dallas Cowboys crushed the Buffalo Bills 30-13.

Atlanta finished the ’94 season with a 7-9 record. June Jones III is named the Falcon’s 10th head coach, replacing Jerry Glanville, who resigned following the 1993 season.

During this season, the NFL and its franchises were showcasing ‘throwback’ jerseys, or replicas of older uniforms to help commemorate the NFL’s 75th anniversary. The 75th anniversary was also commemorated by the diamond patch on the upper left part of the torso - this patch was worn on all 1994 jerseys whether they were "throwback" jerseys or not.

This 1994 Falcon’s road white jersey is a throwback to the late 60’s jersey – compare this jersey and helmet with the 1968 jersey and helmet.

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Atlanta Falcons 1998 uniform
1998
What a year - Wow!

This season was the Falcons most successful in franchise history, as they went 14-2 and made it all the way to Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami against the defending champion Denver Broncos. In the end it would be John Elway’s last game as he was named the Super Bowl MVP and the Broncos beat the Falcons 34-19.

For the record, let’s recap the entire season:
(First team listed was the visiting team)

9/6/98 Falcons 19 Panthers 14
9/13/98 Eagles 12 Falcons 17
9/27/98 Falcons 20 49ers 31
10/4/98 Panthers 23 Falcons 51
10/11/98 Falcons 34 Giants 20
10/18/98 Saints 23 Falcons 31
10/25/98 Falcons 3 Jets 28
11/1/98 Rams 15 Falcons 37
11/8/98 Falcons 41 Patriots 10
11/15/98 49ers 19 Falcons 31
11/22/98 Bears 13 Falcons 20
11/29/98 Falcons 21 Rams 10
12/6/98 Colts 21 Falcons 28
12/13/98 Falcons 27 Saints 17
12/20/98 Falcons 24 Lions 17
12/27/98 Dolphins 16 Falcons 38

The Falcons had a great playoff run, just beating the Minnesota Vikings in the conference finals 30-27 in OT to move on to the Super Bowl where they would eventually lose to the Denver Broncos 34-19. Let’s recap their playoff story:

Playoffs:
1/9/99 49ers 18 Falcons 20
1/17/99 Falcons 30 Vikings 27
1/31/99 Broncos 34 Falcons 19

This jersey is similar to that of 1988, however the stripes have been removed, and a black helmet has been added as part of the uniform. The stripes have changed on the pants again, with the black stripe being outlined with a thick red border. Once again, the belt has been changed back to black.

If you look closely at this jersey, you will note a smaller patch the NFL shield on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck and upper left thigh of the pants beginning in 1991 - an exception being in 1994 when teams occasionally wore "throwback" uniforms celebrating the NFL's 75th anniversary.
This 1994 jersey celebrates the NFL’s 75th Anniversary, and is known as a “throwback” jersey. Every NFL team wore a throwback jersey for one or more games during the 1994 season.

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Atlanta Falcons 2001 uniform
2001
After the Falcons fell one game short of a Championship in 1998, Atlanta fans had little to cheer about when the team had a losing record ever since. In 1999 they went 5-11, in 2000 they were 4-12, and in 2001 they were 7-9. On positive note, Atlanta’s Georgia Dome hosted its second Super Bowl in 2000 when the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16.

This current jersey is black with white numbers trimmed in red on the front and shoulders. The falcon logo is solely on the sleeves. Again there is the NFL’s logo attached onto the neck of the jersey. The helmet is black with the falcon logo, however if you could see the back of the 2001 helmet, you would see an American flag honoring the heroes of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

If you look closely at this jersey, you will note a smaller patch the NFL shield on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck and upper left thigh of the pants beginning in 1991 - an exception being in 1994 when teams occasionally wore "throwback" uniforms celebrating the NFL's 75th anniversary.
This 1994 jersey celebrates the NFL’s 75th Anniversary, and is known as a “throwback” jersey. Every NFL team wore a throwback jersey for one or more games during the 1994 season.

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Atlanta Falcons 2004 uniform
2004
2004 saw standout QB Michael Vick return to the Falcon flock after missing most of the 2003 season with a preseason ankle injury. This was great news for the Falcon faithful not only because Vick was the most exciting player in the league, but also because the team went from a 5-11 record in 2003 to 11-5 in 2004. Their turnaround performance was good enough to win the NFC South division ahead of the Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers. This would be the franchise’s third division title having previously won NFC West titles in 1980 and 1998.

On the field, the team was led by first-year-head-coach Jim Mora Jr., the son of former Saints and Colts head coach Jim Mora. Mora led his charges into the postseason as the third seed in the NFC. The Falcons received a bye in the 1st round of the playoffs, then hosted a divisional playoff game where they thrashed the St. Louis Rams 47-17. The following week they played on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC conference title and a trip to the Super Bowl, but they came up short and lost to the powerful Eagles 27-10.

Despite this loss in the conference final, Atlanta and Michael Vick proved to the NFL that together they would be a force in the league for years to come, and fans expect them to be knocking on the Super Bowl’s door in the foreseeable future.

In 2003 the Falcons made a major change to their uniform design, and this 2004 uniform illustrates those changes.

The new look included this red jersey, which in 2003 was worn as a third jersey. Prior to the start of the 2004 season the Falcons made it their official home jersey. It features large white numerals on the front and back and smaller white “TV” numbers on the tops of the shoulders. All numerals on the jersey are outlined with black trim. Beneath the “TV” numbers is a small version of the updated Falcons logo.

This jersey also features black and white detailing where the sleeve meets the torso of the jersey, the undersides and the cuffs of the sleeves are black. A thin line of black trim runs down jersey from the underside of the sleeves. And lastly, the team’s nickname Falcons is spelled out, on the front of the jersey, in small, white block letters above the numbers and below the “NFL Equipment” patch on the collar.

Regarding the “NFL Equipment “ patch: If you look closely at every NFL uniform worn from 2002 onward, you will notice an “NFL Equipment” patch on the jersey’s neckline and on the upper left thigh of the pants. This “NFL Equipment” patch is larger (it’s a bit bigger than the size of a golf ball) than the previous “NFL shield” patch (about the size of an average postage stamp) that had been worn on uniforms in the same two places almost without exception since the 1991 season.

The helmet, as in previous years, is black but now sports the new, updated Falcons’ logo. The new logo is a sleek, stylized falcon bird, shaped as an “F” with red detailing, outlined in white.

The white pants, which are meant to contrast with the bright red jersey, are a departure from the grey/silver pants worn in recent years. The pants are cinched at the waist by a black belt.

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Celebrate the Falcons' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Atlanta Falcons and the history of the Falcons franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 13 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 13 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)



If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Atlanta Falcons YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7gHS72ixyM or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Atlanta-Falcons-c105/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.

And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox

And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Falcons.

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This blog was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 16, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at ssillcox@rogers.com !

Many thanks!!!
Scott

1 comment:

  1. I really love collecting jersey uniforms. I bought some of mine at the afl store online. I look forward to buying new jersey uniforms soon. I'd love to have this Atlanta Falcons uniform too.

    ReplyDelete