Sports are a great thing for everyone to come together a cheer for one common team.
Atlanta has a very passionate fan base for every sport ranging from the Braves all the way to the newly excited team, Atlanta United. But why? None have provided us a championship except for the Braves back in 1995. That felt long overdue from the previous World Series we had lost leading up to 1995. So is it possible that our city is cursed and we wont ever see another championship?
The Atlanta Braves are tied for having the longest tenure in Atlanta with the Falcons having moved to our city in 1966. They were just an average team from 1966-1974 but had arguably one of the best athletes in Atlanta history in Hank Aaron. In his career in Atlanta he reached his 3,000th hit, passed Babe Ruth’s Home Run record in 1974, while also finishing 3rd in the MVP race in 1957.
In 1976 Ted Turner bought the Braves, keeping them in Atlanta and hired Bobby Cox (best manager the Braves have ever had). His first stint with Braves didn’t go as he planned except for finding the hidden offensive talent in Dale Murphy. But he couldn’t find success on defense until he was moved to Center Field. Unfortunately Cox was fired in 1981. The Braves really showed their dominance in the 1990s when they won the NL 3 times between 1991-1995. They finally won the World Series in 1995 when they beat the Cleveland Indians in 6 games. The Braves went on to make the World Series two more times in 1996 and 1999 where they lost to the Yankees both time.
After the run the Braves had from 1991-2005 they struggled for a couple years until they were able to find their groove again in Bobby Cox’s last season as manager when they got in through the Wild Card and ended up losing in 4 games to the San Francisco Giants. In 2011 the Braves looked like a solid team up until September where they blew a 8.5 game lead on the St Louis Cardinals which came down to the final game of the season (Which I believe was the greatest night in baseball). In 2012, The Braves played well enough to get to into the Wild Card game against the St Louis Cardinals or more famously known as the Infield Fly Rule game.
Since 2015, The Braves have been in a rebuild process which has worked out so far. They also found a new home in SunTrust Park which opened up in 2017. In 2017 the Braves started recalling some of their few young prospects to get them acclimated to the Major Leagues and would expect most everyone else to be called up by either the Summer of 2018 or in September when call ups begin.
The Falcons were Atlanta’s first founded franchise. Unfortunately, they struggled the first several years in Atlanta and only won 12 games in the 1960s. In 1978 they were able to turn things around when they qualified for the playoffs and got their first franchise playoff win the same year when they beat the Eagles 14-13. They then went on to lose 27-20 to the Cowboys in the divisional round. In 1989, The Falcons drafted Deion Sanders A.K.A “PrimeTime”. He went on to set franchise records the next four seasons until he left for the 49ers. In ’92 The Falcons drafted Brett Farve but he only played one season here before we traded him away to Green Bay in ’93.
In 1997, Dan Reeves became head coach and lead us to a 14-2 record with Chris Chandler as QB and Jamal Anderson at RB. The Falcons best the Vikings in the NFC Championship game 30-27 by a last second field goal by Morten Anderson in OT to send us to our first ever Super Bowl. We went on to lose to the John Elway led Broncos by a score of 34-19. But the craziest bit about the Super Bowl happened the night before where Eugene Robinson got arrested for soliciting prostitution and the entire team was up focusing on that the night before the big game. Following the Super Bowl loss the Falcons struggled to get back to the playoffs having back to back losing season due to injuries.
In 2001 Atlanta traded for the 1st overall pick in the draft to get the most electrifying QB from Virginia Tech, Michael Vick. In his first year as a starter he lead the Falcons to a 9-6-1 record and a playoff berth. He was the first person to go into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers in the playoffs, which followed a loss to 20-6 loss in Philly to end our season. In ’03 Vick broke his leg and as the team spiraled to a 5-11 record, they decided to fire coach Dan Reeves. In 2004 we hired Jim Mora as coach which led to a 11-5 record with a first round bye in the playoffs, we then beat the Rams 47-17 just to get stopped by the Eagles again in the NFC Championship game.
Before the 2007 season began, Vick was arrested for dog fighting and received a 23 month prison sentence. After telling Mr. Blank he had no involvement, he was ultimately cut from the Falcons. We were forced to deal with Joey Harrington, Chris Redmon, and Byron Leftwich as we struggled to a record of 4-12 which saw Bobby Petrino walk out on us after 13 games.
The 2008 Draft was great for us once the Dolphins drafted Jake Long, it allowed Matt Ryan “Matty Ice” to fall to us 3rd overall. Since drafting Ryan we have had consecutive winning seasons, something we were never able to accomplish prior. Ryan has also been incredibly tough, only missing 2 games in his career in 2009 due to turf toe. He’s remained though he’s never had a great Offensive Line up until a year or two ago. In 2012 Ryan reached the NFC Championship game for the first time in his career where we jumped up to a 24-14 lead just to blow it and lose to the 49ers 28-24.
2016 saw Ryan play his best ball in his career winning MVP while throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 TDs with only 7 INTs. The entire season felt unreal and in the playoffs we were blowing everyone out and even had a 28-3 lead on the Patriots in the Super Bowl, just to blow that and lose 31-28 in overtime. The Falcons came back in 2017 with a new offensive coordinator who seemed like he couldn’t pick up where we left off the year prior with Kyle Shanahan. We made the playoffs as the 6th seed and beat the Rams 26-13 in the Wild Card round just for our offense to go stagnant against Philly in the Divisional round and lose by a score of 15-10. The Falcons had a chance of taking the lead with under a minute left at the 4 yard line but we all know what happened.
The St. Louis Hawks were relocated in 1968 making them the Atlanta Hawks, they showed spurts of success but also showed they were rebuilding in the later part of 1975. During this 7 year run we saw the success of “Pistol” Pete Maravich and Lou Hudson. Not much happened until 1982 when the Jazz drafted Dominique Wilkins then traded him to the Hawks for Josh Drew, Freeman Williams, and one million in cash. Wilkins showed that he was the superstar we needed winning 50+ games from 1985-1989 but was never able to get past the Eastern Conference Semifinals, always losing to Boston and Detroit. In 1993, the Wilkins led Hawks tied a team record for most team wins at 57 wins but couldn’t get out the Semifinals when they lost to the Pacers in 6 games. But after the season Wilkins left for the LA Clippers.
After Wilkins left the Hawks they were just an average team in the Eastern Conference and missed on draft picks year after year until 2007. Al Horford was a piece the Hawks needed and proved why he was 3rd overall pick. He played nine fantastic seasons in Atlanta but his Pectoral Muscle was an issue when he tore it twice in separate seasons. In 2014-2015 the Hawks looked like they might be the team to bring a championship home to us.
Everything just felt too perfect in 2014-2015, starting with the 19 game winning streak all the way up to winning 60 games and setting the team record for wins in a season. This team did something no other team had done either and that was reaching the ECF. They met the Cleveland Cavilers and we all felt good because we went 3-1 in the regular season against them. But ultimately we got swept by the Cavs and that was partly due to injuries and an ejection early in game 3. After the season Demarre Carroll left for Toronto in free agency when the Hawks made Millsap a priority over him.
The following seasons the Hawks weren’t able to find the same magic as they had in 2015 but they continued making the playoffs only to meet the Cavs again in 2016 to get swept again. In 2017 when Al Horford left in Free Agency to the Celtics we thought Dwight Howard would be the answer to the glaring rebounding issue we faced against the Cavs in back to back seasons. Throughout the entire 2017 season the front office was undecided if they wanted to rebuild or try to compete. They ultimately tried to compete after the trade deadline but that led to the Hawks losing in 6 games to the Wizards who had revenge on their minds from 2015.
The Hawks committed to rebuild following the series loss by unloading Howard to Charlotte and not resigning Millsap to a max contract that he had earned. In the draft we drafted John Collins and Tyler Dorsey who have played well for the time they’ve been given this season. They will probably get a top 5 pick in this draft and there are many options you cant mess up this draft class and wouldn’t surprise me if we traded a few picks to get multiple 1st round picks this year. If they play their cards right they could be competing again as soon as next year.
Atlanta burst onto the scenes last season showing the world that the ATL is a soccer city after multiple said we weren’t. They set numerous attendance records including the single match record at 71,874. They tied for 3rd in the league last season and qualified for the playoffs in their inaugural season. Unfortunately they got knocked out in the first round by The Columbus Crew. They made several moves in the off-season and were able to grab Ezequiel Barco so expect United to come back with high standards and take control of the MLS for the next few seasons.
When you hear Atlanta sports fans talking about a curse on our sports teams, believe it because we’re always able to come close to a championship but can never quite win it all. The curse looks like it will be ending soon but as far as we’re concerned right now we have to struggle through different memes made from our failures, most recently its been 28-3.
Ryan Miller | @_RMiller30
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