Once-downtrodden Falcons now among NFL's best

Updated: October 11, 2012, 4:57 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- During their dismal first season, the Atlanta Falcons' mascot -- a real bird -- apparently decided he had seen enough bad football.

So, he picked up and left. Just flew away.

For the better part of the next four decades, plenty of Atlantans probably wished they could've followed the lead of that prescient falcon in 1966. This was the home of a team that always found a way to quickly snuff out whatever hope it had.

The franchise's only trip to the Super Bowl? That ...

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