Falcons sold, Reeves stays

Feb. 2, 2002 at 8:13 PM
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ATLANTA, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- On the day when the NFL officially approved the sale of the Atlanta Falcons to Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank, the league's newest owner provided the franchise a measure of stability by re-signing coach Dan Reeves to a three-year contract.

Blank did oversee some shuffling on the coaching staff as Wade Phillips was named defensive coordinator, Emmitt Thomas secondary coach and Mike Johnson wide receivers coach.

According to numerous media reports in Atlanta, Blank purchased the team for approximately $545 million. Blank bought the team from the only owners it has ever had -- the Smith family.

Rankin Smith brought professional football to Atlanta in 1965 and the Falcons began play in 1966. Smith paid a record $8.5 million to enter the NFL and later was essential in the construction of the Georgia Dome.

After Smith died in 1997, his shares in the team were assumed by his two sons and three daughters. The Smith siblings owned 88 percent of the Falcons, with the other 12 percent split between businessmen John Imlay and Tom Watson Brown.

Less than two years after Rankin Smith's death, Atlanta reached the Super Bowl for the first time in their history, losing to the Denver Broncos, 34-19.

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