Hey folks! I’ve been away from my blog for awhile. It’s through no fault of my own for you see I, my friends, have been in an Atlanta Falcons induced coma. I have seen seemingly the worst hockey that has ever been on ice displayed by my Atlanta Thrashers but a couple of days and a couple of beers later, I’m okay. I have seen my Atlanta Hawks slapped around the hardwood domains of several basketball arenas in this great nation but I’m okay after a day or so. The epic postseason faceplants of my beloved Atlanta Braves are numerous and colorful but after four or five days I’m right back after it again. The Falcons, however, made me cry my first sports related tear on January 4th, 1981, and they’ve reduced me to seasonal whimpering every year since then. They don’t just break my heart, they stomp it, they twist the life out of it, blow their nose with it and hand it back to me with a smirk. I’m sure they don’t intend to be so harsh, I’m sure they want to win as much as I want to see them win; but over the years they have been so creative and maniacal with the way they bruise me until I’m starting to think they do it on purpose. So it’s not hard to fathom that when I woke up on Saturday, January 15th, I felt twinges of dread starting to gather on the inside. Certainly not this time though Falcons; not with the best record in the conference, not with home field advantage throughout the playoffs, you certainly wouldn’t abuse me this time would you? I looked up at my red Falcon jersey and hooded sweatshirt hanging on the closet door as if waiting for the logo emblazoned on the front to answer my rhetorical question…but silence. I thought I saw the eye of the Falcon on the sleeve of my jersey wink at me, but I think that was just an early morning hallucination. I shook off my doubt and went on about the day; ticket in hand I was ready to go and help usher in the new era of Falcon football with 65,000 of my closest friends. My heart beating with Falcon pride I locked the front door and descended my front steps but as I walked up the block to the train station the inner 8-year-old who was brought to tears by that other Falcon playoff team decades ago called out… “You’ll be sorry you bought that ticket, you could have gotten a shiny new train set for that.”…then his small voice faded out as I pulled my hat tight over my head and walked up the block to catch the train.
It takes no time to get from the house to the station where I find that the escalator is broken but I’m thrilled to know that someone else in my neighborhood is also familiar with the comedy stylings of Mitch Hedberg…
I didn’t really have a problem trotting up the steps though considering it was colder than polar bear nipples dragging across a glacier outside. This was the week of Snowpacalypse here in the city and the freeze was still very much in effect here. Once I was down in the station I certainly didn’t appreciate the wind whipping through the place, I had on 4 layers and seriously reconsidered going home and getting three more. But after about 5 minutes the train came and I took my seat.
The thing about Atlanta, especially for sporting events, is that we’re always late. I have a clue as to why that is but I’ll keep that to myself so as to not trample on anyone’s sensibilities. 🙂 Anyway, I jumped on the first train car because that’s the car that stops closest to the Dome stairwell a few stops down the way. It’s approximately 5:45 at this point, kickoff isn’t until 8 which explains the empty car.
Five Points Station is an extremely poor man’s version of Grand Central station. Extremely poor. But since a pretty good portion of the Falcons fanbase is north of the city you can always count on the train to get crowded here due to the suburban folks transferring in the city. I snapped this picture of a young lady’s shoes once everyone squeezed into the train.
There are 5 million people in the city of Atlanta. So what are the chances that I run into a high school soccer teammate of mine? On this day, pretty daggone high. It was good to see you, Chris!
I’m still dealing with these twinges of doubt and uncertainty as the clock moves closer to kickoff time but nothing will relax your mood (and warm your insides) like crashing a tailgate sponsored by Crown Royal. It’s time to get after some libations, ladies and gentlemen. If the bartender is pouring while wearing a purple velvet hat, you know it’s on.
There was almost a near riot because the line was long and the Crown Royal supply had just run out. There were no “Water into Crown Royal” type miracles taking place at this particular location so the natives were starting to grow restless while they waited on the new cases to arrive but once they did everyone walked away with a cup that looked a little something like this…
I am not a sports trash talker, I just don’t do it. When I played football in high school I wasn’t good enough to justify talking trash to anyone except myself and the sport I did excel in (soccer) didn’t lend itself much to the act of trash talk. So why is it now that I’m standing on the sidewalk across the street from the stadium talking trash to any and everything wearing Green Bay Gold? Oh man, what in the world has gotten into me? I’m calling people names, threatening to knock cheesehead hats off all while voraciously flirting with the lady selling candy apples. What is going on with me? Oh yeah…Crown Royal…
It’s cold outside and since I don’t like being cold we made our way inside…its about 7:15, kickoff isn’t for another hour or so. The good people in the Dome had the Steelers/Ravens game on the screens inside turning the place into the world’s largest sports bar for about an hour or so.
About a half hour passes and the place is completely rocking now. The Dome is jam packed and 85% is in Falcon Red and Black. Pregame introductions are taking place and I can’t hear myself think. We’re all swept up in euphoric Falcon fever waving our red flags with the Falcons’ catchphrase “RISE UP” printed on them. I imagine it’s like what all the other stadiums in the league are like while we were too busy sucking over the last 15-20 years. This is what the other half feels like: Pride, Passion, and deafening roars of approval from the home folks.
The Falcons get a fumble recovery and return it about 10 yards, or maybe 20, perhaps 30 yards…I don’t know, I’m jumping and screaming and my head is still fuzzy from whatever dude in the purple Yosemite Sam hat made. I just know we have the ball and then a few plays later…touchdown!!
Then they score, then we return the kickoff for a score and then that’s when the night went real bad real quick on the field and in the stands. The Packers start going all PlayStation on the Falcons defense, the Falcons start going all Little League football, turnovers, mishaps, embarrassments; everything they do is very right, everything we do in horrifically wrong and I start to wonder aloud if they even have a punter. Then a Packer fan gets hauled out of our section for slicing cheese (with a knife, it’s against the rules for weapons of any kind in the stadium)and handing it out to other Packer fans in the section. People get unruly, a dude 5 rows behind me calls me “boy” and that’s why you don’t see any more pictures because for the next 2 quarters I’m seeing red (not Falcons red this time) wanting to stomp a hole in the chest of the guy. The one time I needed to be rolling with some of my unseemly associates to do some facial damage to a redneck Packer fan I go to the game with my educated friend that calmly talks me off the ledge and keeps me from doing something stupid…Thanks, dude. I appreciate it, but you have to admit, dude would have had it coming.
90 minutes later the stadium is empty and the inner 8-year-old is all in my ear saying “See! See! Didn’t I tell you that you’d regret it. They always break your heart, just like every year. Why didn’t you listen to me? Why didn’t you just buy a train set!” All I could do is sit there surrounded by the Packer fans who were hooting and hollering up a storm at this point and why not? This was a tail kicking of the highest order. I couldn’t bring myself to leave though, they were still my team, still my boys. With ’em to the bitter end and when the clock struck zero and all the Cheeseheads cheered this is what it looked like on the scoreboard…
This has served as therapy of sorts, the fact that I’ve talked about the game is proof enough that I’m healing. However, I haven’t watched ESPN for a collective 15 minutes since the Night of the Letdown and sports talk radio is a complete no-no. Baby steps I guess. We’ve all got our vices and the Falcons are mine. They mistreat me and they tease me but I’ll be back, I always come back…year after year. They need me I guess so come August I’ll forget this ever happened, pull the jersey out of the back of the closet, and hop a westbound train towards downtown where I’ll take my seat amongst the faithful and think, “maybe this time they’ll love me back.” Until then, I have Braves baseball, Thrashers hockey, and Hawks basketball to mangle what’s left of my sports loving heart…
~thanks for reading 🙂
You continue to outdo yourself. Keep up the good work!
C, this is why I’ll always consider you a truly close friend no matter that we see each other once every few decades. Our Falcons have put us tthrough so much together….love that you’ll gear up next Fall same as I will…the Hawks and Braves can and have hurt us too, but the Falcons will always be what our ATL fandom revolves around and therefore can, clearly, always cause the most pain. Thanks for the therapy, I hope we can find a place to put that shallacking that isn’t as close. To the top as January 1981. Hang in there buddy and know that I’m always with you my friend.
PS I hate the Cowboys.
What’s up Skrap! Man, me and you were feeling the same way that night. I rushed home after work to get wings and beer, and this is what I had to look forward to. I’m not as bitter as I was that night, but I cannot bring myself to root for the Packers anymore. I will be a temporary Steelers fan for SB 45.
You know the Pack will be back in the GA Dome next season(if there is a next season) for the rematch. Hopefully our coaching staff will have made the necessary adjustments to be able to compete with them this time.
I know how you feel honey, I was a serious fan of my home town team the Washington Redskins for more than 20 years.
Hang in there honey
Well, you know I am a season ticket holder of the Falcons… I felt the pangs and ire of the complete letdown just as you.. However, I am also a Cleveland Browns FANactic…die-hard, 4 life Browns fan.. Thus the torment of my most emotional letdowns cover a span of &% years. I purposefully left that out because I have been a fan for a lifetime.
Now, know my pain….
You speak my feelings about our Falcons so eloquently that I just may reply “Ask Skrap how I feel about the Birds!” LOL! Another masterpiece, son! I’m just not a homie, but a true fan of your work!
Awwwwwww, dont feel bad, what you need is a special woman to go to the game with you , and when one love lets you down the other can lift you up. Your father didnt cry but just a little, cause I made him a big sandwich and a big glass of Pomegrante juice and rubbed his head and gave him a kiss and he hasnt mentioned the Falcons since. See thats all you need, so dont start the Falcon season next year without something you love better then the Falcons. Maybe just maybe, you can at least look foward to them giving you wonderful writing material. Love you more than I do the Falcons, Mom