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Please Don’t Do This to Me Again Atlanta Falcons

by Arman Deganian
President, DeKalb Bar Association

It was a tough, contentious year, in 2016, for all us in Georgia and the rest of this great country. How about we start the year with some levity for a change? Let’s talk about the Atlanta Falcons! We are in the playoffs! For a true Falcons fan, this is a time of year which brings renewed hope, and, all too often, is immediately followed by fits of disappointment, resentment, debilitating sadness, confusion, and utter rage. Oh boy, my emotions are off the charts, and I don’t know how to prepare for the rollercoaster that we have all already hopped onto. Whether you like it or not, we are going to the playoffs.

Native Georgians like myself have tried. We’ve been cautiously optimistic, like we were in 2008 and 2012. We’ve also been encouraged by what seemed like divine intervention, as was the case in 1998. Heck, Jerry Glanville, Andre Rison and MC Hammer were enough to get me excited in 1991 at the tender and naïve age of 14. What all of these years (and more) had in common are that the Atlanta Falcons made the playoffs. Not only did they make the playoffs, but they generally showed us enough to encourage us and then, as if we deserved it, they proceeded to destroy our hopes in the most improbable ways possible. It’s a thing. It keeps happening. It’s awful. I’m used to it. It’s part of being an Atlantan. It’s almost expected. Let me explain!

. . . they [historically] proceed to destroy our hopes in the most improbable ways possible. It’s a thing. It keeps happening. It’s awful. I’m used to it. It’s part of being an Atlantan.”

The first Falcons game that I attended was on September 23, 1984. My father took me to see Steve Bartkowski and the rest of the Falcons play the Houston Oilers at Fulton County Stadium. It was a beautiful fall day. We won 42-10. We ended the season 4-12. Whew! The football gods spared me having to endure the playoffs that year. That was very kind of them. I was only 7! They continued to spare me the agony of a playoff run until 1991. Not only did the football gods give us a playoff run in 1991, but they also gave us MC Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit” featuring a number of Falcons in the music video! Things were looking up for us. We even had a bona fide star in Deion Sanders, something no former Falcons team could legitimately claim.

What happened next? We beat the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card Game. Nobody thought such a feat was possible. We won a playoff game! It was also in dramatic fashion, with Chris Miller hitting Michael Haynes for the winning touchdown with 2:41 left in the game. It was good to be a Falcon. We followed up that feat by turning the ball over 6 times the following week against the Washington Redskins in the NFC Divisional game and losing in true Falcon fashion, 24-7. The game wasn’t nearly as close as that score. It was a beating. Oh! We also drafted Brett Favre in 1991 and allowed him to throw a whopping 4 passes. We later traded him to Green Bay. Good idea!

Another couple years passed before we were once again subjected to the playoffs. That was the 1995 NFC Wild Card Game. I’m not even going to get into June Jones and Jeff George and this game. However, I would be remiss not to mention that we were beaten handily by that guy who played quarterback in Green Bay, Brett Favre. Thanks Jerry Glanville. This was my senior year in high school. My emotions were a wreck. Wait, though. The Falcons weren’t done with me yet. Actually, it was all just beginning. Hello 1998!

Dan Reeves led us to a 14-2 regular season record. We whooped the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional matchup. I attended that game. We were all doing the Dirty Bird. We were back!! Everyone remembers the last minute victory against the Vikings in the NFC Championship. It was meant to be. We had done everything right up to that point. Things were looking up. Eugene Robinson, our starting free safety and a Colgate graduate, then decided it wouldn’t be much of a team distraction to get arrested for solicitation the night before the Super Bowl. He was wrong! He also promptly gave up an 80 yard touchdown to Rod Smith as well. Of note, the night before, he had received the NFL’s “Athletes in Action Award” which exemplifies outstanding character and leadership. You cannot make this stuff up, well, unless you are a Falcons fan.

Then came 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2010. My favorite was the 2011 Wild Card game in which we scored a whopping two points against the Giants. Yes, two. It was the first time in NFL playoff history that a team scored exactly two points! Go Falcons! 2012 once again gave us hope after beating the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional game 30-28 in dramatic fashion. Guess what came next? The NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers. Wonder how that game would go? We took a 17-0 lead only to ultimately lose 28-24. That was dramatic! We lost, of course. What did we expect? I thought that was it for me forever, however, here I am. I’m a glutton for punishment and I’m back for more. Here is to 2017 and changing history in Atlanta. Go Falcons!

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