The Atlanta Falcons were founded in 1965, but little do fans know they were almost called “The Atlanta Peaches.”
The Atlanta Falcons nickname history stretches back 56 years to when the team was first introduced into the NFL.
In June of 1965, 41-year-old Rankin M. Smith, who worked as a life insurance executive, bought the franchise of $8.5 million. The Atlanta expansion team became the 15th NFL franchise, and they were awarded the first overall pick in the 1966 NFL Draft. This marked the end of a long struggle by the Georgia capital to get its first professional football team, and Georgia fans were so excited they bought a record-setting amount of 45,000 season tickets.
How did the Atlanta Falcons get their nickname?
As the franchise owner, Rankin M. Smith announced on a local radio station that there would be a contest to name the new Atlanta team. Over 500 unique names were submitted, including the Confederates, Firebirds, and Peaches, but the name “Falcons” was declared the winner.
A school teacher from Griffin, Georgia, submitted the name with the following explanation: “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.”
Over 30 years later, the Falcons would record their most successful season in franchise history in 1998, winning the NFC West with a 14-2 record and earning a trip to Super Bowl XXXIII.