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Geneaut

True Falcons story that explains my optimism

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This may not be a story for you, but it explains a lot about Gene. It's a story about boys, heroes, and how being a fan is not about stats, numbers, or even Wins and Losses. It's about how football makes you feel.

When I was a mere lad of 10 my dad sat me down one afternoon in 1980, and we watched an Atlanta Falcon's football game. I was hooked. Shortly after that during the same season a friend and his parents invited me to a game at Fulton County Stadium to watch the Miami Dolphins play my beloved Falcons. We cheered and cheered the likes of Bartkowski, Andrews, Junior Miller, Fulton Kuykendall and company. My Falcons came away with an 'L' that day, but the seed was planted even deeper in my heart. I loved NFL football. As the season wore on though it became apparent we had a good team, a special team, and we made the playoffs. 

Boy was I excited. I drew Falcons' logos on my notebooks. I bought Topps cards. They even had gumball machines that you could try to buy tiny little plastic NFL helmets, and I wasted a ton of quarters to get the Atlanta one. 

And then ... it happened. January 4th, 1981. Falcons versus Cowboys. Do I need to tell you what happened? Probably not, but it has a bearing on my story beyond just the fact we lost that game. It's HOW we lost that game. We lost on 2 fourth quarter TDs from Danny White to Drew Pearson. I was crushed. For weeks I was miserable.

Then I learned something. There was this thing called 'The Draft'. It was sort of like Christmas. Your team got to select a new player to help them out. Make them better. Help them beat the **** Cowboys! 2 fourth quarter passing TDs were still etched in my mind.

Then we selected my favorite Falcons player ever. Bobby Butler. CB from Florida State University. He was going to wear #23 and stop Drew Pearson from scoring more TDs.

Now let me get something straight with all of you. Bobby Butler wasn't my favorite player because he was ever really a special NFL talent. He was my favorite because he was the FIRST draft pick I ever knew about, and he was going to stop Drew Pearson. You may see a theme starting here and it has a lot to do with the fact in 1981 I despised the following people < in order > ... a girl named Jessica at my school, Darth Vader, Leonid Brezhnev, Danny White, and Drew Pearson. Bobby Freaking Butler was going to stop Drew Pearson.

Bobby never really got a chance to stop Drew Pearson when it ever counted. Little did I know that the first season of 1980 was going to be the pinnacle of Atlanta football for almost 18 years. But I was hooked, and Bobby was a part of that. I watched him for season after season after season have a fairly decent career. Nothing special ... he won some matchups and lost others. He intercepted 27 passes, and in 1986 he even scored a TD. He played for a lot of different coaches, and some of my last fond memories of #23 were of him standing by Jerry Glanville's side with his helmet held behind his back after his starting days were over. Jerry and Bobby always seemed to get along which considering Glanville's disposition surprised me, and at times it seemed like they were discussing the game on the sideline like maybe the grizzled veteran had something to add. Thankfully by that point, Drew Pearson was long retired so Bobby didn't have that burden on him then.

Bobby retired after the 92 season. I was always glad he got to play on the 91 team that was so much fun to watch, and I was even more excited to see he got to share the field with another FSU CB who became one of my new 'favorites' ... Deion Sanders. Deion, and many of the players who came after them who became 'favorites' hold a special place in my heart, but they aren't Bobby Butler. Bobby was my first draft pick.

Things seemed simple in 1981. He was going to stop Drew Pearson. 

 

Edited by Geneaut

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8 minutes ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

Nice story, but why did your dad wait until you were 10?

p.s. I never hated girls in my life.

I didn't hate Jessica because she was a girl. She was a cast iron b1tch.

My dad was from New England, and the Pats stunk. He wasn't a big football fan because of that. However, we religiously watched tons of baseball because that was more his favorite sport. He started me out right with that at least ( and at a much younger age). He even took me to get Phil Niekro's autograph. Baseball was our thing, and we watched lots of it. When I watched football it was more just my thing.

P.S I am a Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice fan because of my dad. He loved the Braves while he lived here, but his heart was always with the Bosox ( and it still is ).

 

Edited by Geneaut
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I discovered the Falcons the same year and I was the same age. For me, it was a game against the Redskins that year. Like you said, I was hooked. Bart, Andrews, Cain, Jenkins,  Jackson, Miller, etc. Did the same things, drawing the logo, buying the helmets in the gumball machine, bought the NFL pencils, and ordered a Falcons helmet out of the Sears Catalog. Ah, the memories......

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Nice, but I'm not sure where the optimism comes from at this point. I'm a bit older and that game against Dallas was the beginning of my pessimism. 

Just for the record, Bartkowski was my first pick. I was a fan dating back to when Claude Humphrey was drafted, but Bart was the first time I actually knew something about the player and knew he was going to lift us up.

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8 minutes ago, TheUsualStuff said:

Nice, but I'm not sure where the optimism comes from at this point. I'm a bit older and that game against Dallas was the beginning of my pessimism. 

Just for the record, Bartkowski was my first pick. I was a fan dating back to when Claude Humphrey was drafted, but Bart was the first time I actually knew something about the player and knew he was going to lift us up.

I think some of the appeal of NFL football, and college football as well, is the thought that some new guys join your team every season ... ready to stop Drew Pearson. Or if you are a Bama fan stop Burrow. Or if you are almost any NFL fan in general stop Tom Brady.

Yeah MLB drafts guys but they take forever to get to the bigs. NBA is cool but you only really get one guy in the draft every year, and unless he's a lottery pick he's not anything special. 

I'm far more pessimistic than I used to be, but there's still that feeling that this year's draft class is going to be The One. It never quite goes away.

Edited by Geneaut

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I got one of those plastic helmets once. It was magical. I hung into it for years. I remember when my parents tried to order the Falcons team for my electronic football game. They were impossible to get because the company never carried them. 

Eventually I got them. I watched as they vibrated all over the board but never in the endzone. Just like the real Falcons.

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I remember those wonderful days and as someone recently posted, I had the glasses as well.  I only made it to one game at Fulton County stadium,  up hearing those pads pop would infect me with football fandom for as long as I live.  Great stories, thanks for sharing!  Those early players as well as the next generation with Riggs running the ball and tuggle and case laying the lumber was something to behold.  Those matchups we had with the hated 49ers in those days were magical.  I am still waiting for someone to get a clean, decleating hit on Jerry Rice..... in my memory, he is still running free... Lolol.  

Edited by Peteshweddy
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41 minutes ago, TheUsualStuff said:

Nice, but I'm not sure where the optimism comes from at this point. I'm a bit older and that game against Dallas was the beginning of my pessimism. 

Just for the record, Bartkowski was my first pick. I was a fan dating back to when Claude Humphrey was drafted, but Bart was the first time I actually knew something about the player and knew he was going to lift us up.

I had a Bartkowski t shirt that I wore to shreds... it was a print shirt that had his photo on the front... each wash a little more of the pic would peel off. Great seventies elementary school memories. 

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1 minute ago, Peteshweddy said:

I remember those wonderful days and as someone recently posted, I had the glasses as well.  I only made it to one game at Fulton County stadium,  up hearing those pads pop would infect me with football fandom for as long as I live.  Great stories, thanks for sharing!  Those early players as well as the next generation with Riggs running the ball and tumble and case laying the lumber was something to behold.  Those matchups we had with the hated 49ers in those days were magical.  I am still waiting for someone to get a clean, decleating hit on Jerry Rice..... in my memory, he is still running free... Lolol.  

Charles Dimry still wakes up today seeing #80 run by him into the endzone

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When I was born, my two older brothers were already playing little league for the local Falcons. I was begging to play for them when I started walking but couldn’t until 7. I stuck with them since even tho I’m down in Tampa. I’ll be 41 soon, I ain’t giving up anytime soon! 
 

Couldn’t watch them often since it was pre internet but I’d read the box scores in the news paper while eating my cereal every Monday morning. 

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I started keeping tabs on the team around a month before Reeves was fired (around ten years old). Wasn’t a diehard at that point but really enjoyed seeing what Mora Jr. Did with the team during my younger years, although I admit I just liked watching the team since it was something mom and I did (and still do when we can) together. Her and I thought it was cool to see Mora run around the stadium pregame to get the jitters out. I wasn’t really invested in wins and losses and couldn’t tell ya what a west coast offense or a 4-3 defense was at the time, it was just something mom introduced me to and I liked it. I remember receiving a copy of Madden ‘04 for my birthday the year it came out and that just helped to shape my love of Falcons football, Vick was a **** cheat code. Stickers, notebooks, and the like soon followed and I was hooked ever since.

Now, I didn’t start taking what I consider a REAL vested interest in the team until Bobby Patrino was fired. I remember this is when I started watching NFL Network and keeping tabs on every move the team made. Rumors were floating around that this was a team in need of a complete overhaul and little did I know I was about to witness said makeover that summer. My dad also took me to the last game of the ‘07 season (beat the ‘Hawks, still have the ticket) and I was ALL IN from that point forward. I remember seeing interviews with Mike Smith at the combine after we hired him and just knew he would be the guy to bring us out of the dumpster, we drafted Matt and the rest is really history.

Since then I’ve been able to pay it back to my family as I’ve gotten older. I was able to take mom to some of the meet and greets where she got to meet the players and also Mike Smith at the time. He is a really good dude and was really cool with my mother. He was demoing clubs at the PGA Tour Superstore one day and dropped everything he was doing when mom approached him asking for his autograph. The pen didn’t work and he went out of his way to find one so he could sign her poster. She was embarrassed but super grateful, he made what was an awkward situation for her one of the most memorable moments in recent memory because he was just who he was, it was cool to witness. 

Got to see some good football since then: Matt Ryan’s first professional pass, the great comeback against Denver, “You can’t ****in’ stop it”, “Get the **** off our field”, and many more memorable moments, even the bad ones like 51. Also have gotten to meet more of the players and go to events/games during the past five years through the company I work for. Growing up around it and being a fan are some of my greatest memories and like it or not it’s a part of me. I too am cautiously optimistic and hope to see at least one (hopefully more) Super Bowl wins in my lifetime. I can’t quit this team, so we’ll see how it goes :tiphat:

#RiseUp

Edited by A Dog Named Brian
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2 hours ago, Geneaut said:

I think some of the appeal of NFL football, and college football as well, is the thought that some new guys join your team every season ... ready to stop Drew Pearson. Or if you are a Bama fan stop Burrow. Or if you are almost any NFL fan in general stop Tom Brady.

Yeah MLB drafts guys but they take forever to get to the bigs. NBA is cool but you only really get one guy in the draft every year, and unless he's a lottery pick he's not anything special. 

I'm far more pessimistic than I used to be, but there's still that feeling that this year's draft class is going to be The One. It never quite goes away.

I get it... I thought we had it with Bartkowski. I thought it when we got Deion.... Mike Vick.... Matt Ryan... Julio.

I thought it with some defensive picks as well, and double dipping on the O-line.

There's always that hope, but then they put on that cursed Falcon's jersey, lol

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12 hours ago, Geneaut said:

I didn't hate Jessica because she was a girl. She was a cast iron b1tch.

My dad was from New England, and the Pats stunk. He wasn't a big football fan because of that. However, we religiously watched tons of baseball because that was more his favorite sport. He started me out right with that at least ( and at a much younger age). He even took me to get Phil Niekro's autograph. Baseball was our thing, and we watched lots of it. When I watched football it was more just my thing.

P.S I am a Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice fan because of my dad. He loved the Braves while he lived here, but his heart was always with the Bosox ( and it still is ).

 

Great line, I'm going to steal it as my own 

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9 hours ago, TheUsualStuff said:

I get it... I thought we had it with Bartkowski. I thought it when we got Deion.... Mike Vick.... Matt Ryan... Julio.

I thought it with some defensive picks as well, and double dipping on the O-line.

There's always that hope, but then they put on that cursed Falcon's jersey, lol

Yep. There’s something about the Falcons that repulses greatness in wins and losses. Even though we’ve had some really great players. Luckily I amended my mindset on championships decades ago. The Braves and Yellow Jackets won me one each so I’ve had that thrill. I just watch for entertainment now thank goodness. 

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13 hours ago, Geneaut said:

And then ... it happened. January 4th, 1981. Falcons versus Cowboys. Do I need to tell you what happened? Probably not, but it has a bearing on my story beyond just the fact we lost that game. It's HOW we lost that game. We lost on 2 fourth quarter TDs from Danny White to Drew Pearson. I was crushed. For weeks I was miserable.

My wife and I were at that game. Very frigid afternoon, but when the sun went down, it was brutally cold. Everything was still great though, because the Falcons were up two scores. And then Falcons CB Rolland Lawrence could not stop Drew Pearson in the 4th quarter.  Elation turned into shock, and then into mourning.  It took me a long time to get over that game, knowing that the Falcons had enough talent that year to win the elusive Super Bowl, if only they could have survived that 4th quarter onslaught by the Cowboys. 

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