It’s Super Bowl week and I am beside myself! Somewhere after all the New England Patriots talk, whether it be about Tom Brady being a football god, Bill Belichick being a coaching god, Brady and Belichick possibly winning their fifth Super Bowl together or deflated footballs… there’s the Atlanta Falcons.
I have loved the Atlanta Falcons since I first loved football. I’ve lived through so many ups and downs with this team. I was there when they beat the 49ers to advance to the NFC Championship game in ’98, Roddy White clowned me when I blew a football drill at his camp, I even proposed to my wife on the field before a Falcons/Browns game (which they won!). So, to say that I’m excited is an understatement.
But, there’s a problem with all this excitement: It’s the Atlanta Falcons. I think the reason I identify with this team is because it seems to have my luck. Things just go wrong when things for other teams go right.
For example, just in the time that I’ve been a fan they drafted one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game then traded him after throwing only four passes. The next time they drafted what was thought to be one of the potential greatest, he plagued the team with bad decisions and ultimately got arrested and kicked off the team for running a dogfighting ring.
Then the coach split in the middle of the night to coach Arkansas. Really? Arkansas? Actually, I think that one might have been the best chapter ending in our story full of comic tragedies. I never liked that guy. Soo-eee!
After witnessing many years of things like this happening to my beloved Dirty Birds, I have decided that the Falcons are the Cleveland Browns of the south. It’s not that the team is bad all the time, it’s just that they fail in spectacular fashion.
There’s things like the blocked punt back in 2006 as the Saints were just returning to the Superdome on Monday Night Football after being displaced by hurricane Katrina. The blocked punt in the first quarter of the game was returned for a score. It kick-started (pun intended) a game that saw the Falcons playing like a high school team and the “Rebirth” of New Orleans. They even put a statue up commemorating it. A friggin’ statue. Man, I hate the Saints.
There’s also the 2012 NFC championship game where they came up 10 yards short of the Super Bowl or, the “Harbaugh Bowl” as everyone called it, as it was the first time brothers had coached against each other in the Super Bowl. Then, of course, we can’t forget Super Bowl XXXIII: America’s send off to John Elway. Atlanta played in that one too, after a week of off-field distractions including a “guaranteed victory” from Ray Buchanan and Eugene Robinson getting busted in a prostitution sting.
The Falcons are the NFL’s version of the Washington Generals — always a footnote on someone else’s great moment.
Now here we are again, facing a chance at history. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s possible fifth combined Super Bowl win. Historic. Another chance for the Falcons to be the footnote on another team’s great moment.
We’ve already had some Falcons-esqe distractions: Devonta Freeman’s agent bringing up contract issues that could wait until next week and Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan losing the game plan — 1999 is trying to rear its ugly head. Please, for God’s sake, someone keep Vic Beasley away from shady motels! For the record: Freeman says he’s not thinking about anything other than winning this Sunday and Kyle’s bag was returned to him, not by any Patriots employee.
As expected, most sports outlets are picking the Patriots to win for many reasons, including, but not limited to, the Falcons have a team slogan, they’re wearing red jerseys and because the city of Atlanta has declared the Monday after Super Bowl a holiday.
Personally, I plan on taking that holiday as well and enjoying every second of it. I believe in these Falcons. They look different, better, posed and prepared for this game. Brady and Belichick, that “one for the thumb” is going to have to wait. It’s time for someone else to be the footnote.