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Bird Watching: An Open Letter to Falcons fans

By Daniel Cox.

A little less than a year ago, this was me.

Wait for it...Around the 2:30 mark, that's me in the blue shirt in the background there, wandering and staring aimlessly, waiting for Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran to finish up some post-practice activities.

It was the first day of training camp last season and I was the greenest of greenhorns.

As many of you in Falcons Nation know, the team's gatekeeper of creative web content, J. Michael Moore, stepped away from the team to pursue other exciting life challenges, opening the door for hundreds of aspiring New Media Producers.

I was definitely one of them.

Have you ever pursued something so feverishly that once the chase was complete, no matter the outcome, you knew you gave it everything you had?

I'm not so sure I ever had, but I can say that now.

I pulled out all the stops along the way, doing everything I could to convince everyone involved in the decision that I was the man for the job. At one point, I even told a high-ranking official that if he hired me for this role, he wouldn't regret it.

Well, I didn't get the job, but all is not lost. When one or two doors close, another one always opens up, right?

I was offered and have accepted a freelance role with the team for the entire 2010 season. There's no travel and in many ways it mirrors what I've been doing this past year for Examiner.com, but I'd say it's a little more high profile.

Some of you know that for the last two years as I've chased this sports writing dream, I've had a full-time "day job". I'll be keeping that day job for another season as I take another step forward and I hope to become known as one of the hardest-working guys in this business.

When I began this writing venture, it was 2008 and we all know the condition that the Falcons were in. What a wild season that was huh? It was wild for me because I spent 2/3rds of that year writing about the team for free.

And of course the historic 2009 season followed and while there was not a return trip the playoffs, it almost feels like a greater feat was achieved, by breaking the...well, you know that part by now.

I covered that season from the press box of the Georgia Dome, the media room at the Falcons' Flowery Branch, Georgia facility, the couch in my living room, and a few Starbucks here and there.

I always imagined myself more old-guard sportswriter than new-age media man. When I sat down to write an article on the Falcons, I often asked myself "What can I tell these fans that they don't know? How can I tell them a story?"

Honestly, I always just wanted to tell the story of the Falcons 2009 season through the eyes of someone that was relatively close to the team. I'm not a big stats guy. I'd rather tell you that Thomas DeCoud's nickname is Spider-Man and he's a pretty fly dresser post-game. I'd rather tell you that Jerious Norwood is as down-to-earth as they come. I'd rather tell you the story about the rise of Chris Owens from obscurity to season-ending starter.

These guys have stories to tell and it goes way beyond the game of football.

People often ask me about the players that I cover. They want to know what it's like to rub shoulders with guys that I watched on television as a fan of football just a few short years ago. My thoughts were echoed recently during a conversation that I had with the Falcons practice facilities' grounds keeper, Jim Hewitt.

He shared that he quickly learned that these players are just regular guys.

Yes, they make lots of money and they play a game that is high stakes, both with their bodies and their careers, but at the end of the day, they go home after really great days and really dark days.

Falcons fans, I can tell you first-hand that the team you root for is loaded with solid guys, not unlike the crew you roll out with on the weekends or work side-by-side with every day at work.

You have every reason to be proud.

And that's why I'm looking forward to this season. It's going to be a special year. I know you feel it. I feel it too.

I sincerely look forward to continuing to bring you the stories that you may not get anywhere else on the team that you so deeply love.

Just like the feelings around the Falcons for 2010, this is just the beginning for me as well.

I'd like to say a special thank you to all the fans that emailed me and shared messages of encouragement through Twitter through this whole process. Your faith in me helped me hold my head high, regardless of the outcome.

I won't let you down.

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FANTASTIC! Daniel is the man! They couldn't pick a better replacement for J Mike!

Not sure if the gig is truly one like JMike's. Seems kind of like a stop gap to me. JMike did this full time and I think Daniel has a regular job and won't travel with the team. But nonetheless, he will do a great job.

EDIT: Daniel on Twitter says "to be clear. a replacement for J Mike is forthcoming and it's not me."

Edited by DaMeatTrough
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Not sure if the gig is truly one like JMike's. Seems kind of like a stop gap to me. JMike did this full time and I think Daniel has a regular job and won't travel with the team. But nonetheless, he will do a great job.

Yeah, I misread it, it's a writing gig. Still, it's great to have him in a more official capacity.

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CONGRATS FOR YOU DAN !!!

I have always looked forward to anything that you had to write.

I am very happy for ya !!

I really liked the way J.Mike kept us informed on things in his way,

but I like the way in which Dan writes much more.

Dan, here's for even better things for you in your future endeavors.

This is really good news !!!!!!!!

GO FALCONS !!!

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Umm... he didn't get the J Mike replacement, it seems that some of you are confused.

Basically I understood the article as he will be doing the same job he was, except his checks won't say Examiner, they will say Atlanta Falcons. It's not J Mikes replacement.

Congrats to Daniel for his new TITLE.

Sounds like J Mikes position was highly sought after by many writers. I wonder who the Falcons found to replace him!?

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Sounds like J Mikes position was highly sought after by many writers. I wonder who the Falcons found to replace him!?

J.Mike had important duties other than writing. He balanced many dinner plates behind the scenes. One of them was keeping yours truly happy.^_^

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J.Mike had important duties other than writing. He balanced many dinner plates behind the scenes. One of them was keeping yours truly happy.^_^

Supes, this is a serious question. Did you think about applying for his job. Would that be something that would interest you?

J Mike had an amazing job, traveling with the team and just being a part of the organization from the inside. I'm not surprised so many people applied. Daniel really painted a picture in that letter about just how stiff the competition was, so whoever got the position was probably well deserved.

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Supes, this is a serious question. Did you think about applying for his job. Would that be something that would interest you?

No, not me. J.Mike's official title was "Manager of New Media", as will be the title of his replacement. J.Mike was responsible for a lot more than just blogging and interviewing. Me? I'm just a cartoonist.

A lot of folks wondered why he left, as if it was something 'unpatriotic', so to speak. Well, J.Mike did what any of us would have done,...he went where the money was.;)

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No, not me. J.Mike's official title was "Manager of New Media", as will be the title of his replacement. J.Mike was responsible for a lot more than just blogging and interviewing. Me? I'm just a cartoonist.

A lot of folks wondered why he left, as if it was something 'unpatriotic', so to speak. Well, J.Mike did what any of us would have done,...he went where the money was.;)

No complaints about the cartoons here!

I figured he must have been offered a substantial amount more pay to have given up such a sweet position.

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