Team founder Rankin M. Smith made a deal with then-commissioner Pete Rozelle in about five minutes and the Atlanta Falcons brought the largest and most popular sport to the city of Atlanta.
Prime mover in this task was Rankin Smith, a young insurance executive who had controlling ownership of the Falcons.
Virtually unknown to the general public before that June day, Smith
immediately endeared himself to aficionados of the sport by asking a choice rhetorical question at a press conference following his
acquisition of the franchise: "Doesn't every adult male in America want to own his
own football team?
Not every adult male American has the wherewithal to swing such a deal, but it was comforting to hear that a man is capable of dreams like those of any other guy.
The day's proceedings threw the city into a happy delirium unequaled in the history of football.
By the time Smith
got back to his
insurance office 24 hours later, there had been over 1,000 phone calls for tickets.
had to push his
way through stacks of mail.
By the middle of December, Smith had signed the most coveted college football player in the nation, Texas linebacker Tommy Nobis.
And in January, Smith surprised the entire athletic fraternity by naming a head coach who never had been mentioned in the perpetual stream of journalistic speculation about the job.
But Green Bay Packer assistant Norb Hecker assumed his new post with vigor and immediately embraced the gigantic job of sifting - along with Director of Player Personnel Gene Cronin - a huge list of NFL players made available to the Atlanta expansion team by other teams in the league.
Finally, three men were chosen from each club and these 42 formed the nucleus of the roster Hecker had to work with when he
took the team to summer training camp in Black Mountain, North Carolina in early July.
Of course, on that memorable June 30, Rankin Smith
and the NFL
were the choice.