The Atlanta Chiefs were a professional soccer team that existed from 1967 to 1973, and again from 1979 to 1981. They were originally owned by the Atlanta Braves baseball team, hence the “Chiefs” name. They played the 1967 season in the National Professional Soccer League, but in 1968 the NPSL merged with the United Soccer Association to form the North American Soccer League (or NASL, which was occasionally pronounced “nasal”, for obvious reasons).
Depending on how you look at it, the Chiefs brought Atlanta the city’s first professional, major league sports title:
- Georgia Tech won college football national championships in 1917, 1928 and 1952 (and, later, 1990). But college sports are strictly amateur, especially so 50 years ago.
- The Atlanta Crackers were a minor league baseball team that existed from 1901 to 1961. They played in the Southern Association and were league champs 17 times. In fact, the Crackers were the winningest team in Southern Association history, and were sometimes called the “Yankees of the Minors”. However, while they were “professional” (in the sense that they were paid to play, unlike college football teams), they were only a minor league team.
- The Atlanta Knights hockey team won the International Hockey League’s Turner Cup – no relation to Ted – in 1993, their second year in existence. But, like the Crackers, they too were a minor league team, in this case, an affiliate for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sadly, the arrival of the Atlanta Trashers caused the team to move to Quebec, where they were known as the “Rafales” from 1996 to 1998, after which the team was shut down for losing too much money.
- The Atlanta Braves didn’t win a World Series until 1995. However, they won two previous World Series, in 1957 (as the Milwaukee Braves) and in 1914 (as the Boston Braves). Thus, not only are the Braves the oldest continually-operating sports franchise in North America, they’re the only team to have won a World Series in every city they’ve called home.
- The Atlanta Hawks basketball team was originally founded as the National Basketball League’s Buffalo Bisons in 1946. However, just 13 games in to their first season the team moved to Moline, Illinois. There they became known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, and were led by legendary coach Red Auerbach. But it soon became obvious that the “Tri-Cities” area (Moline, Illinois, Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa) were too small to support a team in the new NBA. So in 1951 they moved to Milwaukee. And in 1955 they moved to St. Louis, where they won their only league title in 1958. They moved again to Atlanta in 1968. The Hawks’ 55 year championship drought is the second-longest in the NBA after the Sacramento Kings, and the Hawks haven’t even advanced past the second round of the playoffs since moving to Atlanta.
- The Flames NHL hockey team – which called Atlanta home from 1972 to 1980, when they moved to Calgary, where they’ve been ever since – has never won a Stanley Cup. In fact, neither the Atlanta nor the Calgary Flames have ever even won their division. And the Atlanta Trashers – now the Winnipeg Jets – won their division exactly once, in the 2006-2007 season. And this also makes Atlanta the only city to lose not one, but TWO NHL franchises.
- The Atlanta Falcons have been to, but have never won, a Super Bowl. Which puts them in the same boat as the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans – all of which have also been to, but not won, a Super Bowl. It also puts them ahead of the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, none of which have ever even been to a Super Bowl.
But this post is about the Atlanta Chiefs.