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Dealing with Falcons-itis


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Dealing with Falcons-itis

By BILL SHANKS - sports@macon.com

If you are a longtime fan of the Atlanta Falcons, you’re going to understand what I’m writing about this week. For the lack of a better term, let’s label it Falcons-itis.

It’s what happened that night back in January of 1981, when the Dallas Cowboys scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to break our hearts. That game made Danny White, Dallas’ quarterback, a four-letter word to Falcons fans. I was only 10 years old at the time, but I clearly remember the worst loss in the history of sports in this state.

It’s what happened a decade ago, the night before the Falcons’ only Super Bowl. Safety Eugene Robinson, who earlier that day was named the winner of the Bart Starr Award for his “high moral character,” got caught with a prostitute in downtown Miami. Maybe the Denver Broncos would have still routed Atlanta that next day, but the story just seemed to fit.

It’s what happened that very next season, when the Falcons were defending NFC Champions and running back Jamal Anderson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game. The season was over right then and there, and no one was surprised when Atlanta went 5-11.

It’s what happened two years ago, when the starting quarterback was caught in a scandal that almost ruined the franchise and then later that fall the head coach fled Atlanta, only to be seen later that same night on “SportsCenter” doing the “Wooo, Pig, Sooie” chant at Arkansas.

And it’s happening now. That same old Falcons-itis.

I tried to be realistic at the start of this season. I simply hoped for a winning year, and even if the Falcons didn’t make it to the playoffs, a winning season would be good enough. But the schedule was going to be tougher, and there was no way the Falcons would surprise anyone this year, like they did last season.

Was it too much to ask for this franchise to have its second winning season in a row? It has never happened before. Never. That’s hard to imagine, really. A franchise that has been around 44 years has never had back-to-back winning seasons.

Falcons-itis.

The Falcons weren’t supposed to go 11-5 last year. They had a new coach, a rookie quarterback and were starting over after the nightmares from the previous season. But they were successful, and that made it easy to drink the Kool-Aid and believe this year might be even better.

But I know this team’s history. Things happen for no reason at all to make you have to be realistic. And so while hoping for another 11-5 campaign would have been a natural thing to do, I knew better.

So now, here we are, and the Falcons have lost six of their past eight games after starting the season 4-1. They are in serious jeopardy of another losing season.

Why should I be surprised?

Injuries have killed this team from having any chance at the playoffs. First it was defensive tackle Peria Jerry and then safety Brian Williams. But injuries to quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner have been the back-breakers.

The Falcons showed us something Sunday when they almost beat the undefeated New Orleans Saints. There was no way a team that depleted should have even been in the game, but they took it down to the wire.

Credit head coach Mike Smith, the one who broke his headset, for injecting a new spirit in this club. That’s what still gives you hope that somehow, someway, the Falcons can beat the New York Jets on Sunday in New York and then beat Buffalo and Tampa Bay to finish the season.

That would be a 9-7 record, a winning record and give this franchise something that it has never had before — two winning seasons in a row.

But forgive all us Falcons fans if we’re a little skeptical. We’ve been suffering from this Falcons-itis for many, many years.

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He forgot to mention the season that two promising young players died. Croudip and Norwood died the same season. I think that was the season before the clown was brought in to coach.

Ah yes, good times.

Actually, 3 players died in an 14 month span. There was Brad Beckman as well.

That was during the second Marion Campbell era, the worst era for Falcons football in franchise history in my opinion.

Edited by Peyton
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Dealing with Falcons-itis

By BILL SHANKS - sports@macon.com

If you are a longtime fan of the Atlanta Falcons, you’re going to understand what I’m writing about this week. For the lack of a better term, let’s label it Falcons-itis.

It’s what happened that night back in January of 1981, when the Dallas Cowboys scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to break our hearts. That game made Danny White, Dallas’ quarterback, a four-letter word to Falcons fans. I was only 10 years old at the time, but I clearly remember the worst loss in the history of sports in this state.

It’s what happened a decade ago, the night before the Falcons’ only Super Bowl. Safety Eugene Robinson, who earlier that day was named the winner of the Bart Starr Award for his “high moral character,” got caught with a prostitute in downtown Miami. Maybe the Denver Broncos would have still routed Atlanta that next day, but the story just seemed to fit.

It’s what happened that very next season, when the Falcons were defending NFC Champions and running back Jamal Anderson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game. The season was over right then and there, and no one was surprised when Atlanta went 5-11.

It’s what happened two years ago, when the starting quarterback was caught in a scandal that almost ruined the franchise and then later that fall the head coach fled Atlanta, only to be seen later that same night on “SportsCenter” doing the “Wooo, Pig, Sooie” chant at Arkansas.

And it’s happening now. That same old Falcons-itis.

I tried to be realistic at the start of this season. I simply hoped for a winning year, and even if the Falcons didn’t make it to the playoffs, a winning season would be good enough. But the schedule was going to be tougher, and there was no way the Falcons would surprise anyone this year, like they did last season.

Was it too much to ask for this franchise to have its second winning season in a row? It has never happened before. Never. That’s hard to imagine, really. A franchise that has been around 44 years has never had back-to-back winning seasons.

Falcons-itis.

The Falcons weren’t supposed to go 11-5 last year. They had a new coach, a rookie quarterback and were starting over after the nightmares from the previous season. But they were successful, and that made it easy to drink the Kool-Aid and believe this year might be even better.

But I know this team’s history. Things happen for no reason at all to make you have to be realistic. And so while hoping for another 11-5 campaign would have been a natural thing to do, I knew better.

So now, here we are, and the Falcons have lost six of their past eight games after starting the season 4-1. They are in serious jeopardy of another losing season.

Why should I be surprised?

Injuries have killed this team from having any chance at the playoffs. First it was defensive tackle Peria Jerry and then safety Brian Williams. But injuries to quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner have been the back-breakers.

The Falcons showed us something Sunday when they almost beat the undefeated New Orleans Saints. There was no way a team that depleted should have even been in the game, but they took it down to the wire.

Credit head coach Mike Smith, the one who broke his headset, for injecting a new spirit in this club. That’s what still gives you hope that somehow, someway, the Falcons can beat the New York Jets on Sunday in New York and then beat Buffalo and Tampa Bay to finish the season.

That would be a 9-7 record, a winning record and give this franchise something that it has never had before — two winning seasons in a row.

But forgive all us Falcons fans if we’re a little skeptical. We’ve been suffering from this Falcons-itis for many, many years.

when did williams play safety for us?

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****, My earliest memory is Chandler and the 98 SB. Feel sorry for your old geezers. Hope we get one before you pass.

lol. Thanks...but OUCH. I'm not using a walker yet :)

I was 15 in 1981 and remember that game, the consol TV I was watching it on, and how horrified me and my cousin were when...that guy...ran out of the right side of the pocket and had ALL DAY to find a reciever for the back breaking TD. I'm sure he only had 6 or 7 seconds...but it felt like a minute and half watching all of those replays.

In a way it was a lot more damaging than the Superbowl loss. We were playing on house money that season. In'81 we were the "ish." We were the power team. We underachieved, and Dallas added to their legend. Oh man I'm fired up now. I could kick the Jets tail myself now after thinking about all of this!

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When Falcons lost that game (Falcons/Cowboys-1981 playoff game), I was 14 yrs. old - totally can relate. The old guys like us have painful memories of being "this close" a few times but not able to close the deal....

The best Falcons memory in 43 years was the 1998 Falcons/Vikes Championship game - unfortunately there is not a close 2nd memory....

Edited by g-dawg
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it is true.

I have tried so many times to move on from this team.

followed them for 20 years, since 10 years old. And I live in PA. I would tell myself....you cant even watch a game live and never on TV (before DTV), they disappoint you just as soon as you trust they wont. But come every weekend I couldnt root for another team. Now my son is 8 and falling into the same trap. Although he also like BAL (Ray Ray) and said if Norwood went there he would change teams (his fav player).

Now if they move to LA I could hate them, just because I cant stand California sport teams.

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Oh, hellfire. And to think these guys actually get paid for writing around 650 words of drivel like this.

"Falcons-itis" - please. That's some voodoo BS I would expect someone on this message board to come up with. Someone reprints a disparaging article from some backwoods rag (and even if the Macon area does have about 250,000 people, I still consider it backwoods). Then right on cue the usual wimps chime in, figuratively wringing their wrists, and tut-tutting "How True". And all this is suppose to pass for - what? - wisdom?

Call me a hopeless optimist if you will, but I really believe the Falcons will indeed run the table on the Jets, Bills, and Buccaneers - finish the 2009 season at 9-7 and be in a position to build a true champion in the upcoming seasons.

And if I'm wrong - then I'm wrong. But at least I didn't run up the white flag before a shot was fired.

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Oh, hellfire. And to think these guys actually get paid for writing around 650 words of drivel like this.

"Falcons-itis" - please. That's some voodoo BS I would expect someone on this message board to come up with. Someone reprints a disparaging article from some backwoods rag (and even if the Macon area does have about 250,000 people, I still consider it backwoods). Then right on cue the usual wimps chime in, figuratively wringing their wrists, and tut-tutting "How True". And all this is suppose to pass for - what? - wisdom?

Call me a hopeless optimist if you will, but I really believe the Falcons will indeed run the table on the Jets, Bills, and Buccaneers - finish the 2009 season at 9-7 and be in a position to build a true champion in the upcoming seasons.

And if I'm wrong - then I'm wrong. But at least I didn't run up the white flag before a shot was fired.

Are you trying to be offensive or does that just come naturally?

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Eh . . . on reflection maybe the dig regarding Macon was unjustified. However, I still stand by everything else I said.

I don't even attempt to defend Shanks' view on this. I just know that his opinion has nothing to do with where he broadcasts. Those are two completely different issues. He did the same thing when Georgia lost to Tennessee.

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