The Atlanta Falcons and their fans are sometimes referred to as the Dirty Birds, but where does this nickname come from?
The 1998 Atlanta Falcons came out of nowhere. Atlanta went 7-9 in the 1997 NFL season, earning a third place spot in the NFC West and no playoff appearance. However, the pieces for a great team were there.
Quarterback Chris Chandler, defensive back Ray Buchanan, and the star linebacker Jessie Tuggle all went to the Pro Bowl for their stellar play in the 1997 season. Jamal Anderson was emerging as a premier running back in the league as he logged his second 1,000 yard rushing season in 1997.
In September 1998, the Falcons came storming out of the gates and never looked back. Head Coach Dan Reeves lead the ’98 Falcons to a 14-2 record, a first place seat in the NFC West, and a Super Bowl appearance.
This unexpected, massive, franchise-best season came on the shoulders of Jamal Anderson. The young running back banged pads, lowered his shoulders, danced down the sidelines, and scored like a monster. Anderson tallied 1,846 yards and 14 touchdowns running the ball for Atlanta, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
But it was Anderson did in the end zone after he scored that made him a national sensation. He popularized a touchdown celebration called, you guessed it, the Dirty Bird. His arms would flap up and down wildly like wings and he would bounce with the roaring crowd as his teammates rallied around him. The name of the dance would stick like glue to Anderson and the entire team.
Occasionally, current Falcons and other players break out with the Dirty Bird after a score, and you can bet that a bunch of fans do the dance in the stands of the Georgia Dome.