The Atlanta Falcons is the National Football League (NFL) entry based in Atlanta, Georgia. The team is a member of the National Football Conference (NFC) and is one of four teams in the NFC South division. While the city of Atlanta only ranks as 40th in terms of the largest cities in America, the Atlanta metropolitan region is actually the ninth largest in the U.S. The team not only draws fans from the entire state of Georgia, but also from neighboring Alabama and South Carolina. These two states have no NFL teams of their own.
This guide will offer information on the team’s history, and detail some of the prominent players, both past and present. The guide will also provide tips on how to acquire the best Atlanta Falcons memorabilia, apparel, and souvenirs, as well as where to find the best deals. It also offers information on how to authenticate signed memorabilia.
Atlanta Falcons History
The franchise began as an expansion team in 1965 after a cat-and-mouse struggle for rights to the team between the NFL and the now defunct rival American Football League (AFL). Ultimately, the AFL added the Miami Dolphins and the NFL acquired the Falcons with their stunning new venue, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Atlanta played its first game against the Los Angeles Rams on September 11, 1966. That game proved to be the most competitive of their initial nine games, all were losses. The team would go on to record only 12 wins during the remainder of the decade.
It wasn’t until 1978 that the Falcons first qualified for the playoffs. They finished 9-7 that season, only the third winning record in team history. The team floundered during the 1980s, with only one winning record when they went 5-4 in the strike-shortened 1982 season. Since 1991 however, the team has found its stride and made the playoffs in eight of those years, possibly as a result of moving into the newly constructed Georgia Dome in 1992. In 1998, the Falcons went to the Super Bowl, losing to the Denver Broncos 34-19. They went to the playoffs in 2008, 2010, and 2011.
Exceptional Atlanta Falcons Players
Much of the memorabilia fans gravitate toward is connected to specific players in the form of trading cards, jerseys, and many other items. The team has certainly had its share of heroes as well as some with questionable notoriety. Many of the most prominent players were active before a lot of the current fans were born, including quarterback Bob Berry and running back Tommy Nobis, the team’s first ever draft selection. The only Hall of Fame inductee, who played most of his career with the Atlanta Falcons, was Deion Sanders. Sanders was not only a phenomenal cornerback in the NFL, but had an excellent career as a Major League Baseball outfielder. He is the only top professional in history ever to score a touchdown and hit a home run in same week, during the 1989 season. Quarterback Steve Bartkowskihad an incredible run with the Falcons during the late 70s and early 80s and remains a favorite of those who have followed the team since the early years.
More recently, the names Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Jamal Anderson, and Andre Rison come to mind as favorites of younger fans. Ryan has rewritten most of the single season passing records for the team and will own the career numbers as well, if he stays fit. While Vick’s issues with gambling on dogfights will forever haunt him, his 173 yards rushing in one game during the 2002 season is the most ever for an NFL quarterback. In 2006, he became the first NFL quarterback to rush for more than 1000 yards.
When it comes to head coaches, the names Dan Reeves, Jim Mora, and current job holder Mike Smith stand head and shoulders above all other Falcon coaches. Along with Tommy Nobis, Reeves is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
The Best Atlanta Falcons Memorabilia, Apparel and Souvenirs
Atlanta Falcons fans are some of the most ardent football fans in the NFL. The recent success of the team has fueled the drive for all things Falcon. Manufacturers are producing record numbers of items to satisfy the demand from Falcons fans all over the country. For those who live in or near Atlanta, access to memorbilia in local stores is generally good year round. Bargain hunters and those living outside the immediate geographical region will want to rely on internet sites to find the best selection and prices.
The term memorabilia encompasses different things to different people. For the purposes of this guide, it will refer to items that people typically purchase, either to collect, save, pass along to family, or possibly retain as an investment. These articles may or may not be signed and/or confirmed as authentic.
The classic piece of sports memorabilia is the trading card. Cards are available at local shops throughout the United States as well as online. It’s a good idea to check out both, especially when looking for a rare or signed card. Many speculators pay close attention to each new player’s rookie season, hoping to acquire a card that may become valuable later in the player’s career. For instance, in the 2011 draft, Julio Jones was the Falcons’ first pick, sixth overall. Speculators or any fans that felt he might go on to have an exceptional NFL career, picked up his rookie card for under a dollar. Twenty years from now, if Jones is inducted into the Hall of Fame, the card may enjoy an exceptional increase in value. Or, he may experience a career ending injury tomorrow and the card will only be worth the paper it is printed on.
Authenticating Signed Memorabilia
Other great memorabilia items include jerseys, photos, and game programs . Any of these may be offered with an accompanying signature. Keep in mind that unless a third party confirms the signature and origin of the article, it is possible it is a fake. The proliferation of phony memorabilia is a multi-million dollar industry. Some estimate that up to half of all signed athletic merchandise is forged. To ensure that any article is legitimate, look for one of these designations accompanying the item: Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), James Spence Authentication (JSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), Global Authentics (GA), and Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC). The advantage of buying from a local shop is that the seller relies upon local word-of-mouth advertising to stay in business. Selling unauthorized fake merchandise would doom most local merchants whereas the online merchant is largely unaffected. As always, if it seems too good to be true, it is probably not authentic.
Those who have never been to a local memorabilia shop should by all means stop into one or more. The shop merchant can provide a wealth of information about the potential for an item to appreciate in value. Those who are interested in a specific card can also find out the card’s value on the open market and can often find cards for as good a price or better than the online sources. The table below shows the advantages and limitations of shopping online or in a local sports memorabilia.
Factors to Consider
Higher, but negotiable
Time and Expense
Search time only
Requires shipping, added expense
Comparison Shopping and Selection
Simple, many options
Limited local options
All of these factors should be considered before embarking on a hunt for Falcon memorabilia.
Fan apparel has become an enormous industry. Over $4 billion is spent per year on U.S., sports-related merchandise, the majority on clothing. Hats are one of the most popular clothing articles available. They are available in every conceivable color and with all logo variations. Fan jerseys are very popular as well and are available with most current and past notable players’ names on them. Vintage clothing is especially popular with older fans who prefer the original colors and logos of the earlier years.
Be aware that the apparel industry is also fraught with unscrupulous sellers, and unlicensed apparel is commonly marketed as legitimately licensed. Look for anything slightly off-center, faded coloring, logos that aren’t sharp or accurate, incorrect numbering attributed to a specific player, and other details. Many buyers don’t care if the item is sold legally, as the buyer has no liability. Just understand that there is a strong likelihood that the clothing will not have the same quality as licensed apparel.
Team souvenirs run the gamut from the common pins and buttons to jewelry and license plates and frames. Looking for a Falcons Falcons watch? No problem. How about a Falcons mug? Plenty of those are available too. Have some wall space available for Falcons art? The options are nearly unlimited.
Finding Atlanta Falcons Memorabilia on eBay
eBay is the preeminent online shopping site for all Falcons memorabilia, apparel, and souvenirs. If you start at the home page, hover over the Collectibles and Art category and then click on Sports Mem, Cards and Fan Shop. From there, you can browse various subcategories such as Game Used Memorabilia, Cards, Fan Apparel and Souvenirs, and Vintage Sports Memorabilia. Each of those will help you find the Atlanta Falcons memorabilia you’re looking for.
If you know precisely what item you want to find, the easiest way is to use the keyword search bar on the top of each page. Try entering "Atlanta Falcons ticket stubs" into the field and you will be directed to a page that displays all of the current listings. First time users may want to read up on eBay ’ s Search Tips for advice on time-saving search techniques.
It’s a good idea to spend a few minutes reading up on the seller before making a purchase. Those sellers with exceptional performance records are noted with a "Top Rated" ribbon. Previous buyers will often leave feedback (located in the seller’s user profile) about their dealings with the seller. Don’t hesitate to click on the contact link in the seller’s profile if you have any questions, or just want better photos of the item being offered for sale. Most sellers are quite accessible and will provide responses within a very short time.
The Atlanta Falcons are one of the preeminent franchises in the sporting world. Although it took some time for them to fully develop, the team has been experiencing a high level of success recently and has a good core of young, talented players. Fans are buying up Falcons memorabilia as fast as it is being produced.
It is wise to take some time, especially when buying online, to perform at least some due diligence to ensure that the seller is delivering exactly what is being promoted. Compare prices, shop around, and then go out and support your team by acquiring Atlanta Falcons memorabilia.