The dreaded first weekend without NFL football is upon us.
I knew most of the hardcore football folks would struggle. Normally, we’d at least have the Pro Bowl. But was played before the Super Bowl this year.
There is not one football game on television this weekend. Not even one of those bad all-star games.
So here’s a survival plan. Five things to help you get through the weekend:
Couple of housekeeping matters:
FINNERAN TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW DEAL: Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran, who was set to become a free agent on March 5, signed a one-year contract
extension on Thursday, the team announced.
Finneran could have waited and had other teams bargain for his services, but the nine-year veteran wanted to return to the Falcons.
Finneran, 34, was waived by Seattle and Philadelphia before being signed by the Falcons to the practice squad on Dec. 13, 1999. He hopes to finish his career with the team.
“Now, I know I’m going to be a Falcon next year and I can start preparing that way,” said Finneran, a fundraiser for Haiti that he was attending. “Being up there up at the facility and working with the team, the coaches and everything else. It gives you a leg up and it takes away that uncertainty.”
Finneran played in 10 games last season and caught 11 passes for 111 yards. He also contributed on special teams. But he suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against New Orleans on Dec. 13 and was placed on injured reserve.
The torn PCL did not require surgery.
“I’ll be back for OTAs and mini-camp,” Finneran said. “We start offseason training the end of March. I’ll be ready for that.
I’m already up there a little bit. I’m planning to be back up there working out and doing some different things. It’s feeling good. It should be 100 percent before we get ready to go.”
In 2008, Finneran made a successful comeback from a right knee injury that required two surgeries, which caused him to miss two seasons.
In the first surgery, a cadaver’s ligament was used to rebuild the torn anterior cruciate ligament, but it gave way during training camp in 2007. During the second surgery, Finneran’s own tissue and patellar tendon were used to rebuild the ACL.
He played in all 17 games in 2008.
Finneran, who played collegiately at Villanova, is not sure where all of the time has gone.
“I can still remember my wife pulling up to the old Suwanee facility and bringing the two little kids out, and sitting down and watching practice,” Finneran said. “We are rooted here now. This is home for us. We love Atlanta.
“We love being here. We love the organization. We enjoy being around Arthur Blank and his wife Stephanie. To finish here is a big goal of mine. I appreciate the Falcons allowing me to do that.”
In his career, Finneran has played in 112 games with 37 starts and has totaled 219 catches for 2,927 yards and 16 touchdowns.
In 2005, he led the Falcons in receiving with 50 catches for 611 yards. In 2002, he amassed a career-high 838 yards and six touchdowns.
Last season, Finneran was named the Falcons nominee for the 2009 Walter Payton man of the year award, which honors the league’s top civic minded player.
The Falcons took note of the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl.
“It was tough,” Finneran said. “You always wish that it was you. It’s bittersweet. I guess you’ve got a team in your division representing for the NFC South.
“I know we have to battle those guys year in and year out. It seems like the NFC South always has something to do with the playoffs all the way up to the NFC championship game at least. . . Hopefully we can do that next year. That gives us something to shoot for. We get to play the Champs twice. We’ll take full advantage of it and give it our best shot.”
Several members of the Falcons will take in part in a fundraiser to help raise funds for Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.
Finneran, fullback Ovie Mughelli, linebacker Coy Wire and offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds will be on hand to offer their support.
“The people of Haiti have experienced unbelievable loss and destruction since the earthquake on January 12,” said
David Ralston, Georiga’s speaker of the house. “I believe that we are in the position to help this nation get back on its feet. That is why House Republicans and Democrats are joining together in a bi-partisan effort to host a fundraiser to bring much needed funds to Haiti to help provide people with food, water, and other supplies.”
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have joined forces to lead a major relief effort to benefit Haiti .
“We appreciate the opportunity to join in the effort to help our neighbors in Haiti ,” said Rep. Dubose Porter. “When tragedy hits we need to pull together as one people to help those in need with our thoughts and prayers.”
In addition to Speaker Ralston and Minority Leader Porter (D-Dublin), the host committee will include the following members of caucus leadership in the Georgia House of Representatives: Speaker Pro-Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton), Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons), Majority Whip Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta), Majority Caucus Chairwoman Donna Sheldon (R-Dacula), Majority Caucus Vice-Chairman Jeff May (R-Monroe), Majority Secretary/Treasurer Allen Peake (R-Macon), Minority Whip Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus), Minority Caucus Chairman Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), Minority Caucus Vice-Chairwoman Nikki Randall (D-Macon), Assistant Minority Whip Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna), Minority Secretary Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta), and Minority Treasurer Don Wix (D-Mableton).
“I appreciate the efforts of House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, Minority Whip Carolyn Hugley and all of the Minority Caucus leadership for their partnership in this very worthy cause,” Ralston said.
Contributions will be accepted at the door the day of the event at the discretion of the donor.
BIRDLAND – The 1966 throwbacks uniforms are here to stay.
For at least four more seasons, the Falcons will strut in those classics for at least one game.
Falcons president Rich McKay told the team’s website the story about how the plan involved a five-year commitment to the old jerseys, helmets and pants.
Last season, they asked the players if they liked how the uniforms looked. The players approved of the look and asked to wear them for two games.
The Falcons went 2-0 in the throwback uniforms.
They fared pretty good in a 28-20 victory over Carolina on Sept. 20, but the ghosts from Falcons’ past came out of the Georgia Dome closet in the second game.
The Falcons needed a touchdown pass with 23 seconds remaining to beat 1-9 Tampa Bay and four starters – Michael Turner, Matt Ryan, Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl – were injured in the game. Turner was gone for the rest of the season.
DUNN GIVES AWAY TWO MORE HOUSES: Falcons part owner Warrick Dunn sent out this tweet today: “Not
gonna lie. Felt good to help 92nd & 93rd single parents make ‘Home’ dreams happen. Their 4 kids will rest easier tonight. Thanks ALL!”
SUPER BOWL CLUB: With the Saints leaving the ranks, there are only four teams left in the “Never Been to a Super Bowl” club.
Now with the Saints victory, there is hope in Cleveland, Jacksonville, Houston and Detroit. (However, it must be pointed out that the Browns won 5 NFL titles and 4 AAFL titles while dominating in the 1940s and 1950s. They won their last NFL title in 1964.)
MOCK DRAFT: Let’s practice some “Citizen Journalism” today. We didn’t start doing our Mock Draft until March 20th last season.
I like to wait until after getting, digesting and then sharing the information from the NFL Scouting Combine.
Anybody who’s doing a mock right now is basically throwing darts. Teams are getting closer to finalizing their boards, but most will undergo major reconstruction after the NFL Scouting combine, which will run from Feb. 24 until March 2 in Indianapolis.
Should we start the Mock’s early – this Friday — or wait until after the combine? A simple, yes or no would help. It would be fun either, way.
Excited about the throwbacks? (I’m assuming the cheerleaders will wear their throwbacks, too.)