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The AJC’s Top 50 - Nos. 46-50

The landscape of Atlanta sports changed in 2017.

Literally. 

Stadiums were raised, razed and renovated. 

There were many more significant moments in sports involving our city, teams and people. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution compiled and ranked a list of the 50 biggest events in Atlanta sports for the year 2017. Over the next 10 days, we will reveal the list in ascending order, five at a time, until it culminates with the most defining moment on Dec. 26. 

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Today: 46-50. 

50. Warrick Dunn in Falcons Ring of Honor 

The Falcons added the running back to their list of honorees on Dec. 7. Dunn was the first player to be honored in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Dunn played for the Falcons from 2001-07 after beginning his career with the Buccaneers. He rushed for 5,981 yards with 30 touchdowns in Atlanta. Dunn is also known for his extensive community work. He continues his Home for the Holidays program in which he gives away houses to single-parent families in honor of his late mother. 

49. Rams hire Dunwoody’s Sean McVay 

The Rams made McVay, a 2004 graduate of Marist High, the youngest head coach in the NFL’s modern era on Jan. 12. He had served as the offensive coordinator of the Redskins for three seasons before the opportunity came his way at age 30. McVay was hired after Jeff Fisher was fired and the Rams finished with a 4-12 record in 2016. Under McVay, the Rams led the NFC West late in the season and are a major factor in the playoff race. It’s was quite a journey for the former quarterback who helped Marist to a state football title. 

48. Braves release Bartolo Colon 

The ageless right-handed pitcher was signed to a one-year, $12.5 million contract in the winter of 2016. There were high hopes for Big Sexy, despite his age of 44, to help the Braves bridge the gap until a crop of young Braves pitchers would be major league ready. It didn’t work out. Colon went 2-8 in 13 starts with an 8.14 ERA in 63 innings. The Braves were forced to move on from Colon and he was designated for assignment on June 29 and released on July 4. 

47. Matt Stafford gets NFL-record contract 

The Lions and former University of Georgia quarterback became the NFL’s highest-paid player when he agreed to a five-year, $135 million contract extension on Aug. 28. The deal included a $50 million signing bonus and the potential for $92 million guaranteed, both NFL records. Stafford has never been named All-Pro and has been named to just one Pro Bowl. In 2016, Stafford had 4,327 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 10 interceptions in 16 games. Although his career record headed into the 2017 season was 51-58, he got the big pay day. 

46. Georgia Swarm win National Lacrosse League title 

Professional championships are few and far between in Atlanta. But the Swarm brought home a title by winning the NLL’s Champions Cup on June 11. The Swarm defeated the Saskatchewan Rush in Canada, 15-14 in overtime, to win the best-of-three series, just two years after the franchise relocated from Minnesota. Lyle Thompson was named MVP of the Champions Cup series. The Swarm won the Eastern Division to advance to the championship series against the two-time defending champion.

The list so far:

46. Georgia Swarm win National Lacrosse League title

47. Matt Stafford gets NFL-record contract

48. Braves release Bartolo Colon

49. Rams hire Sean McVay

50. Warrick Dunn in Falcons’ Ring of Honor

Coming Monday: Nos. 41-45

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