The Falcons reached their only Super Bowl during the 1998 season with an entertaining group that called itself the "Dirty Birds." Of course, they found a most unique way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The night before the big game in Miami, safety Eugene Robinson, probably their most respected player, was arrested for trying to buy sex from a woman who turned out to be an undercover cop.
Robinson played anyway. Not surprisingly, he got beat for a long touchdown pass on the game's most crucial play, the Denver Broncos romping to their second straight championship.
But, truth be told, things have changed over the last decade, ever since Arthur Blank bought the team.
Three of the five division titles in franchise's 46-year history have come during the Blank era. Most impressively, the team bounced right back after star quarterback Michael Vick went to prison for running a dogfighting ring. Dimitroff, Smith and Ryan arrived the following year; since then, the Falcons have strung together five straight winning seasons.
Not bad, considering they had gone through their entire history, which begins in 1966, without putting together two in a row.
Now, there's only one thing left.
Just win, baby, in the playoffs.
"We can't steal that from Oakland. That's their thing," Peterson says, when reminded of the late Davis' famous mantra as owner of the Raiders.
But he can't help himself.
"Just win, baby," Peterson repeats, mulling it over for just a second. "That's nice. I like it."
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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