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One of my best Falcons memories: 2008 A new start for my family and the Atlanta Falcons


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Every time we face the Lions...I remember when.

In July of 2008, I retired early from my job of 21 years (I had worked there over half my life, started just before my 20th birthday) and moved my family from Atlanta to the Albany, NY area. I was still  an Atlanta Falcons season ticket holder. I have a fairly strong Southern accent, but I speak quickly like the locals here. The unusual cadence leads to a lot of "what accent is that" discussions. Needless to say, I was far from home and felt a little like a fish out of water. I had just moved my family 1100 miles North for a job I really hoped would work out (it did...still there). Anyone who has ever taken a chance knows the feeling. Having once worked on my private pilots license, its a lot like the feeling when your planes wheels leave the ground on your first solo flight: for better or worse, your committed!

Around 11:45 on Sunday, September 7, 2008, I walked into a sports bar in Albany, NY and was met by the manager who was greeting the early arrivers. Seeing my Falcons jersey, he sat me at an appropriate small table next to the bar and we had a short conversation about Petrino, Vick, and the general dismal state of the franchise. I was almost embarrassed, but he was more sympathetic than making fun. Over the next hour, I had several conversations with the locals about the Falcons and the three local teams (Giants, Patriots, Bills...oddly little Jets support). The locals (about 2.5 hours from Boston by car) knew Ryan pretty well from his college days and generally referred to him as "Matty Ice" which wasn't a nickname I was familiar with. Naturally, I had been pretty busy over that off season with interviews, home searches, and lots of traveling back and forth. I knew the Falcons had drafted Ryan and I knew TATF had concerns about his INTs his senior year while trying to carry a subpar BC team. That was all I knew. I don't follow college ball much. 

Much of the rest of this story, you all know. On the third play of the game for the Falcons, after two handoffs to Turner, Ryan dropped back for his first NFL pass and hit M. Jenkins on a skinny post for a 62 yard TD. My presence in the bar at one of the first tables you see when you enter had drawn attention to the game. It sounded a lot like home when that play went off. There was local interest in Matt and I received a lot of congratulations and a beer or two. That play was a little bigger than football to me. It was my sign that everything was going to be okay and that taking chances pays off. 

Ryan won't play forever, but for as long as this team plays football fans will speak of the Ryan era. My guess is they will speak more fondly of it a decade from now than they do now. The moment he threw that pass, Vick and Petrio memories quickly faded. The ugliest era in Falcons football faded to black to become a footnote on the team's history. The Falcons are still the Falcons, and elation and frustration seem to hold a mysterious balance with this franchise...one is never far from the other. For me, the Ryan era will be remembered as a high note; a time of big plays, improbably comebacks, and some of the greatest Falcons games ever. There have been moment of mind numbing frustration, but compared to my first three decades as a Falcon fan, it has been overwhelmingly positive and QB play has been the most consistent the franchise has ever seen. 

At some point in the future, there will be a new draft, and the team will select a new QB. In all probability, he won't have to lead the team out of Vick and Petrino style humiliation, but he will have big shoes to fill and a QB legacy to uphold. Here's hoping that man rises to the occasion and secures an even brighter future for himself, this franchise, and Falcons fans everywhere that are looking for signs of hope!

 

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I remember I was sitting in the middle of a movie theatre when my phone went off with the Falcons pick. I remember looking up and saying "Wow, they really spelled Dorseys name wrong". I had no idea who/what a Matt Ryan was but I was pizzed.

That game began to change my mind, but really it was the Bears game that solidified him as a great pick in my eyes.

Great story, we should try and get a get together for NY fans, I live about 1 1/2 south of Albany in Putnam County. I go up to Lake George frequently. 

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25 minutes ago, DirtyBird2 said:

I remember I was sitting in the middle of a movie theatre when my phone went off with the Falcons pick. I remember looking up and saying "Wow, they really spelled Dorseys name wrong". I had no idea who/what a Matt Ryan was but I was pizzed.

That game began to change my mind, but really it was the Bears game that solidified him as a great pick in my eyes.

Great story, we should try and get a get together for NY fans, I live about 1 1/2 south of Albany in Putnam County. I go up to Lake George frequently. 

The Bears game was special. On one hand, I don't know how the Bears could give up the sideline. It was complete negligence on their part. That said, Ryan threw the perfect ball and Jenkins made one of many great catches that year.

I think the division rotations put the Falcons against the AFC East and NFC East next year. I As I recall we traveled to NE and NYJ in 2017, so those game will be in ATL, but I think we may have the Giants in the Meadowlands. Would be cool to try to work something out around that game if so. 

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17 minutes ago, JOEinPHX said:

That was darn near poetic, Dave.  I enjoyed reading it.  And as noted already, the 2008 season opener was a revelation, and the Bears game really cemented the idea that special things were happening.

Thanks! I aspire to be a sports writer following my next retirement...lol.

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2 hours ago, falcndave said:

The Bears game was special. On one hand, I don't know how the Bears could give up the sideline. It was complete negligence on their part. That said, Ryan threw the perfect ball and Jenkins made one of many great catches that year.

I think the division rotations put the Falcons against the AFC East and NFC East next year. I As I recall we traveled to NE and NYJ in 2017, so those game will be in ATL, but I think we may have the Giants in the Meadowlands. Would be cool to try to work something out around that game if so. 

https://www.atlantafalcons.com/schedule/future-opponents

Definitely get the Giants in Meadowlands next year. We can def work something out. 

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2008... so many special games and memories.

It was the Green Bay road game that turned it around for me. I was going to be working in Boston that week and so I flew up early that morning and found a sports bar.  The Patriots were playing the 4pm game so when I walked in, I pretty much had the place to myself.  The Falcons were off to a quick lead and I was there in my brand new Ryan jersey.  After halftime, the bar started to fill with Patriots fans who were gathering for their game.  They saw me in the Ryan Falcon jersey and smiled and nodded at me and a few came up and talked about Ryan in college.  It was good camraderie.

Eventually, the whole bar was watching the Falcon game with me and cheering along the way. Then suddenly, Green Bay started coming back.  Ryan threw an interception in the end zone, it was getting close to the Pats start time and more of the TVs were being switched over to the Pats station, but the bartender knew I was there so he left the Falcons game on.  Then this old guy came up to me at the bar and he said "ya know, I followed this Ryan kid in college.  Hes a good kid, he will tear your heart out... but stick with him.  He's a competitiah".  

The Falcons held on and got the win.  As I watched the first half of the Pats game, guys were coming over and saying "hey, how'd ya birdies do today?"  When I gave them the thumbs up, they would smile and say "that Ryan, he's a BC kid... good kid."  I knew we had a QB that would be around a while, it was a good time.

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24 minutes ago, RetroRoq said:

2008... so many special games and memories.

It was the Green Bay road game that turned it around for me. I was going to be working in Boston that week and so I flew up early that morning and found a sports bar.  The Patriots were playing the 4pm game so when I walked in, I pretty much had the place to myself.  The Falcons were off to a quick lead and I was there in my brand new Ryan jersey.  After halftime, the bar started to fill with Patriots fans who were gathering for their game.  They saw me in the Ryan Falcon jersey and smiled and nodded at me and a few came up and talked about Ryan in college.  It was good camraderie.

Eventually, the whole bar was watching the Falcon game with me and cheering along the way. Then suddenly, Green Bay started coming back.  Ryan threw an interception in the end zone, it was getting close to the Pats start time and more of the TVs were being switched over to the Pats station, but the bartender knew I was there so he left the Falcons game on.  Then this old guy came up to me at the bar and he said "ya know, I followed this Ryan kid in college.  Hes a good kid, he will tear your heart out... but stick with him.  He's a competitiah".  

The Falcons held on and got the win.  As I watched the first half of the Pats game, guys were coming over and saying "hey, how'd ya birdies do today?"  When I gave them the thumbs up, they would smile and say "that Ryan, he's a BC kid... good kid."  I knew we had a QB that would be around a while, it was a good time.

As I found out, no one outside of the conference has any hard feelings about the Falcons, and the "laughable" sentiment of the losses an such is much more all in good humor than anyone in Atlanta would believe. The fact is, when I started watching games in Upstate NY, the Falcons were a neutral topic. No one has anything against the team. They are pretty much a non topic until you show up in a Falcons jersey, and then its more of a refreshing novelty than anything else. I've been to games in the Giants stadium and in Foxboro...not one harsh word that was anything other than good fun.

Steelers, Cowboys, Giants, Patriots, Bills, and amazingly the Raiders are all fairly well represented in this area. The funny thing is, all of the other fans just despise the Cowboys. Those fans show up and they take it from everybody!

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3 hours ago, RetroRoq said:

2008... so many special games and memories.

It was the Green Bay road game that turned it around for me. I was going to be working in Boston that week and so I flew up early that morning and found a sports bar.  The Patriots were playing the 4pm game so when I walked in, I pretty much had the place to myself.  The Falcons were off to a quick lead and I was there in my brand new Ryan jersey.  After halftime, the bar started to fill with Patriots fans who were gathering for their game.  They saw me in the Ryan Falcon jersey and smiled and nodded at me and a few came up and talked about Ryan in college.  It was good camraderie.

Eventually, the whole bar was watching the Falcon game with me and cheering along the way. Then suddenly, Green Bay started coming back.  Ryan threw an interception in the end zone, it was getting close to the Pats start time and more of the TVs were being switched over to the Pats station, but the bartender knew I was there so he left the Falcons game on.  Then this old guy came up to me at the bar and he said "ya know, I followed this Ryan kid in college.  Hes a good kid, he will tear your heart out... but stick with him.  He's a competitiah".  

The Falcons held on and got the win.  As I watched the first half of the Pats game, guys were coming over and saying "hey, how'd ya birdies do today?"  When I gave them the thumbs up, they would smile and say "that Ryan, he's a BC kid... good kid."  I knew we had a QB that would be around a while, it was a good time.

And if you did that today they'd walk up to and laugh at you and say, "28-3".

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