At the start of the 1965 season,
because of its overwhelming success on the field
and on television, where its NBC-TV contract assured its viability,
the American Football League decided to expand. A group
in Atlanta applied for franchises in both the American Football
League and the NFL. Another group
reported it had deposited earnest money for a team in the AFL.
worked out a deal and were awarded an AFL franchise on June 7, 1965,
contingent upon acquiring exclusive stadium rights from city
officials. The NFL
and its Commissioner
Alvin Rozelle, who had been as usual been
moving slowly in expansion matters,
were spurred by
Atlanta's interest in the AFL, and
Rozelle headed on the next plane to
Atlanta to block the rival league's claim on the city.
In a repeat of the Minnesota fiasco, he
forced the city to make a choice between the two leagues.
By June 30, the city
had picked Rankin Smith and the NFL.
When Atlanta reneged, the American Football League awarded an
expansion franchise to lawyer Joseph Robbie and actor Danny
Thomas for $7.5 million, for the 1966 season.
Robbie had originally wanted to
establish the franchise in Philadelphia, but AFL commissioner Joe
Foss suggested Miami due to its warm climate, growing population,
and lack of a Professional Football team.
Thomas would eventually sell his stake in the team to Robbie.
Ironicallly, the Dolphins became a
powerhouse, winning two Super Bowl Championships, including
a perfect season, while the NFL's Atlanta
team has been a perennial also-ran.