The '91 Falcons brought swag and hip hop to the NFL

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  • By Grant Pardee
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The 1991 Atlanta Falcons did not win a Super Bowl. They were not one of the greatest teams of all time. But they were incredibly unique, special, and exciting. "The most fun team ever in pro football" is how Jerry Glanville, the Falcons' head coach in '91, described that group.

These are the kinds of teams that really make football special, I think; even more than the champions and the dynasties, it's the scrappy upstarts who are clearly having the time of their lives playing with their adopted brothers that makes watching the game fun.

1991 saw a young Deion Sanders entering his prime -- a primetime, if you will. "We brought swag and hip hop to the NFL. It was fly," Sanders said.

In his third season with the Falcons, Deion scored five touchdowns in four different ways: receiving, punt return, kick return, and a pick six.

Neon Deion was all over the sports highlights in the summer, too, as he'd just signed with the Atlanta Braves in Major League Baseball, including hitting a key three-run homer during their playoff run. This was the inimitable era of dual-sport athletes, of which Sanders is arguably the very best.

The 1991 season was also Brett Favre's rookie season, the Falcons' second-round draft choice out of Southern Mississippi. Coach Glanville had no interest in playing Favre, and in that moment, he almost looked justified: Favre's first throw in an NFL regular season game resulted in a pick-six, and of his four attempts that year, none were complete. We all know how it turned out for Favre after he was traded to Green Bay (he did okay).

The Falcons earned their best record in nearly a decade that season, a 10-6 finish and a wildcard playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints (they lost in the Divisional Round to Washington). You can watch the 91 Falcons episode of The Timeline this Friday, December 8th at 10pm EST on NFL Network.

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