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The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are a member of the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL).
The Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team, after the NFL offered then-owner Rankin Smith a franchise to keep him from joining the rival American Football League (AFL). The AFL instead granted a franchise to Miami, Florida (the Miami Dolphins). They are tied with the Dolphins (who also began play in 1966) for being the oldest NFL franchise in the Deep South, and are the oldest NFC team in said region.
In their 48 years of existence, the Falcons have compiled a record of 316–414–6 with division championships in 1980, 1998, 2004, 2010 and 2012. Their only Super Bowl appearance was during the 1998 season in Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami. The Falcons play their home games at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta, but construction began on New Atlanta Stadium in May 2014, with play beginning in the 2017 season. Their headquarters and practice facilities are located at a 50-acre site in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
The Atlanta Falcons franchise began on June 30, 1965 when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership to 41 year-old Rankin Smith Sr.. Smith an Executive Vice President of Life Insurance Company of Georgia at the time, paid $8.5 million the highest price in NFL history at the time 1965 for an NFL franchise. Former commissioner Pete Rozelle and Smith made the deal in about five minutes and the Atlanta Falcons brought the largest and most popular sport to the city of Atlanta. The Atlanta expansion franchise became the 15th NFL franchise, and they were awarded the first pick in the 1966 NFL Draft as well as the final pick in each of the first five rounds. The Falcons drafted All-American Linebacker Tommy Nobis from the University of Texas with the first pick of the draft, making him the first-ever Falcon. The league also held the 1966 NFL Expansion Draft six weeks later in which the Falcons selected unprotected players from existing franchises. Although the Falcons selected many good players in those drafts, they still were not able to win right away.