Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with new safety Chris Hope

Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams, center, runs as he is chased by Tennessee Titans' Chris Hope, left, and Michael Griffin, right, in the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Carolina Panthers' DeAngelo Williams, center, runs as he is chased by Tennessee Titans' Chris Hope, left, and Michael Griffin, right, in the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Falcons safety Chris Hope, a 10-year NFL veteran, wants to finish his NFL career on a high note.

Last season, the former Tennessee Titan played in 10 games and made just two starts as he battled through two (dislocated shoulder and forearm) injuries.

When his six-year, $30.6 million contract expired after last season, he was not re-signed. The Falcons, who were looking for some depth at the safety position, signed Hope to a one-year, $925,000 contract. The parties agreed to terms on June 29.

Hope, who has been a starter at free safety for most of his career, won a Super Bowl (XL) ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers and went to the Pro Bowl following the 2008 season.

Hope, who turns 32 in September, has 690 tackles, four sacks and 20 interceptions over his career with the Steelers (2002-05) and Titans (2006-11).

Hope spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone Tuesday about joining the Falcons, his iCHope Foundation, his times with the Steelers and Titans and how he plans to fit in with the Falcons.

Thomas DeCoud

Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud.

Q: What was attractive about signing with the Falcons?

A: The Atlanta Falcons looked good to me because they are a veteran-led team with a lot of young talent. I think they are on verge of doing something special. They’ve been to the playoffs in [three of] of the past [four] seasons. They had the best record in the entire conference two years ago, but they’ve been just coming up short. They have the makings of being a Super Bowl team. I think that they are right there, knocking on the door. I feel like, for where I’m at in my career, I want to play for something. I don’t want to play for a check. I want to play for an opportunity to win another ring.

Q: How tough was it for you last season, battling through the shoulder and forearm injuries and just starting two games?

A: It was a sad way to end my career in Tennessee if I may say so. I played some good football at a high-level and it was sad that my last year ended with an injury. I did not get a chance to go out and show everybody in the league that I can still play at a high-level. I feel that had a lot to do with why teams were scared to pick me up or why it took so long.

Q: Is that correct that you only received one B over your academic career?

A: Yes, I was as straight-A student my entire career. From grade school all the way through college. I graduated Summa Cum Laude. I made one B in my entire career of school. That takes a lot of discipline, hard work and good character. I try to be the best that I can be at everything that I do. I try to do the same thing when it comes to my career.

Q: What was the B in?

A: I can’t remember, but I think it was in one those advanced placement classes in high school.

Q: How will you fit into the Falcons defense?

A: I feel like they have a great secondary with the addition of Asante Samuel, [Dunta] Robinson, [Brent] Grimes and all of those guys are highly touted and elite corners in my opinion. The safeties that they’ve had the last few years are real good and they are young. With my leadership and my veteran experience, I can just come in and help them out with whatever I can. I feel like I can still play at a high-level. But again, I’ll just do whatever they ask me to do.

Q: How did your foundation’s [iCHope Foundation] fundraiser go this spring?

A: This year we helped out the Women’s Shelter [in my hometown of Rock Hill, S.C.] It was a good opportunity for me to give back to the community and touch more than just one person’s life. I’m a very religious guy. I have a strong faith. I’m Christian. I feel that the more you are given, the more you are required to give. So, I feel like giving back to an organization like the Women’s Shelter was a good opportunity for me to touch many families.

William Moore may get to a start against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Falcons strong safety William Moore.

Q: Where did you get this sense of community service from?

A: I’ve never forgotten where I came from. Those people back in Rock Hill love me just for who I am and not just for what I do. They’ve been in my corner since I first picked up a football. There are a lot of great places out here to live, but there’s no place like home.

Q: Will there be much of a difference coming over to the NFC after spending you entire career in the AFC?

A: It will be a different experience. When I was younger, I would say that it was easier to make the Pro Bowl in the NFC. In the AFC, we had Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu in the AFC for so long that it was so hard to make the Pro Bowl. If those guys would not have been there, I probably would have been a Pro Bowler two or three more times.

Q: What will you tell your new teammates about winning a Super Bowl ring?

A: That was one of the things that drew me to Atlanta. They are serious about not just being a good football team. They want to be the best football team. Going out and getting Asante Samuel and signing the guys back from last year was big. Matt Ryan is a great quarterback. [Michael] Turner is a great running back. They have two high-powered receivers in Roddy White and the young guy from Alabama [Julio Jones]. They have all the tools and the keys to be a Super Bowl contender.

Q: Are you familiar with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan or any of the other coaches on the staff?

A: Mike Smith was the defensive coordinator for the Jaguars the many times that I played them while with Tennessee. During my stint in Pittsburgh, defensive backs coach Tim Lewis was my defensive coordinator my first three years in Pittsburgh. Nolan was at the 49ers when I came out in the draft and when I was a free agent. I’ve crossed paths with a few guys. When you’re blessed to have an opportunity to stay in the league for a while there are not too many guys or too many things that you haven’t ran across.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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67 comments Add your comment

The Truth

July 3rd, 2012
7:52 pm

First! Woo hoo… Great pick up by the Falcons. Hope provides depth just case Moore gets injured or Decoud slips.

JSS

July 3rd, 2012
8:22 pm

How can someone with a Cal education keep misreading plays in front of him? Just ask Thomas DeCoud… Stay healthy Hope, you’ll see plenty of work!

Hollywould

July 3rd, 2012
8:28 pm

Decoud hasn’t made a play yet. Be ready Chris

This Falclown thinks he is joining a SB team...LMAO..

July 3rd, 2012
8:39 pm

what a joke…the closest he gets to a SB with the Falclowns (oxymoronic statement) is watching the Saints win their second on his couch with teammates…pathetic franchise, wanna-be team….will always be second fiddle to the Saints…fact….stay classy, dirty turdz….

[...] “They have the makings of being a Super Bowl team,” Hope said of the Falcons. “I think that they are right there, knocking on the door. I feel like, for where I’m at in my career, I want to play for something. I don’t want to play for a check. I want to play for an opportunity to win another ring.” [...]

Junkyard Dawg2011

July 3rd, 2012
8:50 pm

Depth at Safety AND DB??? I think our Pass Defense has gone from a weakness to a strength.

I think we may very well be knocking at the door!

willie g loves the falcons of arthur blank era

July 3rd, 2012
9:05 pm

this team just got better if they learn fast new offendive and defensive coordinators will be epic

J-Lo

July 3rd, 2012
9:11 pm

Two injuries last year but they were upper body. Intangibles off the charts. Signed for less than a mil….WTG Falcons!

Firsttimer

July 3rd, 2012
10:22 pm

Welcome to Atlanta, Chris. I like what I read. He sounds like a champion and a leader. Falcons just got one step closer to those multiple SB rings.

BIRDSFLYHIGH

July 3rd, 2012
11:13 pm

BIRDSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

Eb

July 3rd, 2012
11:37 pm

Never thought I’d say it but Falcons need a ‘Hawks’ moment. Team has become boring and a firm shakeup would do it good. I’ll say right now that Ryan and R White are not the future here. Hope they prove me wrong.

tjhook

July 4th, 2012
12:24 am

If Decoud doesn’t take advantage of the skill and knowledge our newest safety brings, the fans will be chanting “Up with Hope, down with Dopes!”

FalconJim

July 4th, 2012
12:49 am

I like what I read. Dude sounds like he’s got his head on straight, and can definitely help us with leadership and depth….maybe more, IF he stays healthy.

Welcome to “Hotlanta” Mr. Hope!!!

John

July 4th, 2012
12:58 am

Only one B EVER? I hate this guy all ready!

Mikey

July 4th, 2012
8:13 am

Welcome to Atlanta Mr. Hope! What an addition to our team. I know he will provide extra spark in an area where we need help. Our young guys will most likely be better this year but so far have had their challenges. Cudos for the coaches in making this decision. It is nice to have quality depth in the secondary. We will see plenty of passing and needed to shore up that part of our game. I have no doubt that his experience and leadership will make a big difference. GO FALCONS! RISE UP!

hand

July 4th, 2012
8:18 am

If o-line hold up. The falcons will be one of the best teams in the nfl. The defence will be a top 10 this year. Go Falcons!

SirReal

July 4th, 2012
9:25 am

All it’ll take is another slip on the banana peel by DeCoud and he’ll be starting.lol

[...] Hope said, “That was one of the things that drew me to Atlanta. They are serious about not just being a good football team. They want to be the best football team. Going out and getting Asante Samuel and signing the guys back from last year was big. Matt Ryan is a great quarterback. [Michael] Turner is a great running back. They have two high-powered receivers in Roddy White and the young guy from Alabama [Julio Jones]. They have all the tools and the keys to be a Super Bowl contender.” [...]

FalconRed

July 4th, 2012
10:28 am

Good move Falcons! This guy is definitely a great addition to the team!

SeenThisB4

July 4th, 2012
10:28 am

Maybe what really made atlanta attractive to sign with, was that they made the only offer as opposed to the other 31 teams that weren’t interested.

D man

July 4th, 2012
10:59 am

This was a great pickup. I’m excited about our backfield this season. We should be able to blitz more and increase our sack totals. I love this team. We are going to be really good this year…

Posi-it

July 4th, 2012
11:37 am

And maybe what made New Orleans attractive to Lofton was that the Falcons weren’t interested in him. And at least Hope can cover receivers coming out of the backfield.

Paddy

July 4th, 2012
11:54 am

Seen thisB4……..do yo know that the Falcons offer was his only offer or just stirring the pot?

aints=Dung

July 4th, 2012
12:02 pm

that seen dude has no knowledge of anything rated higher than dung

Larry

July 4th, 2012
1:16 pm

“Q: Is that correct that you only received one B over your academic career?

A: Yes, I was as straight-A student my entire career. From grade school all the way through college. I graduated Summa Cum Laude. I made one B in my entire career of school. That takes a lot of discipline, hard work and good character. I try to be the best that I can be at everything that I do. I try to do the same thing when it comes to my career.”

Interesting, I don’t see braids, earrings or tattoos…could there be a correlation between the greater the intelligence the greater lack of desire to look like a clown?

I think so!

[...] Atlanta Falcons This entry was posted in Atlanta Falcons and tagged Atlanta, Chris, Falcons, hope, safety. Bookmark the permalink. ← Ex-Titan Hope signs with Falcons (National Football Post) [...]

Rueben r

July 4th, 2012
2:10 pm

Chris hope is good but he rusty.. Tht y he have to be more of a teacher for decoud n moore cause lets be honest if decoud n moore get there head on right tht can be.tht best safety duo in the nfc.. Go falcons

Larry

July 4th, 2012
2:21 pm

^ Graduated Summa Cum Laude.

SeenThisB4

July 4th, 2012
3:00 pm

@Paddy: It was his only offer. That would be intuitive anyway, free agency was essentially over by the end of March, he got signed by the falcan’ts AFTER mini camp, during which time your new defensive coordinator was his disappointment and alarm with the lack of ability with his safeties, Mike LBs, and special teams.

SeenThisB4

July 4th, 2012
3:02 pm

^ was vocalizing his disappointment….

Firsttimer

July 4th, 2012
3:22 pm

The aints should have been his first offer judging by how horrible their secondary was last year.

Larry

July 4th, 2012
4:34 pm

D-Led,

Why don’t you do all Atlantans a favor and just ban this “SeenThisB4″ mosquito? While it is certainly permissible for opponent’s fans to chime in and participate with some modicum of intelligence, this pest’s only purpose is to criticize everything Falcon. He offers nothing to the blog but unabashed, deliberate and intentional annoyance.

At least worm him his juvenile, brattish acts must cease or be gone!

Thanks,

All patrons of the AJC

Larry

July 4th, 2012
4:35 pm

SUX2BaBYRD

July 4th, 2012
4:52 pm

This sounds like a re-run of last years pre-season blog … in fact , it sounds like all of the pre-season hype to date and we’re still 0-1 where it counts and 0-3 when it comes to where you want to be !

hiramsaint

July 4th, 2012
4:54 pm

larry must be a democrat with that philosophy and by democrat i mean socialist / marxist .

Larry

July 4th, 2012
5:29 pm

No, hiramsaint, I’m a straight-ticket Republican smart enough not to live in pig-picking, meat skin eating Hiram, and grateful not to be pulling for a team full of thugs and a vicodin addicted head coach.

SeenThisB4

July 4th, 2012
5:44 pm

@Larry: Nothing I said isn’t true. This guy Hope was signed after your mini camp because your defensive coordinator was unimpressed and unhappy with what he saw at safety. And that was documented by one of DLed’s stories, in clear, unambiguous English. Now, if that is critical and an annoyance,…perhaps you should consider not reading falcan’t sports stories all together.

hiramsaint

July 4th, 2012
5:58 pm

sorry larry but you are what i called you out to be no matter your party affiliation . to ban someone on the basis that their opinion differs from yours and to want to silence them because of it is stricltly marxist so it would appear that it’s time to re-examine your political view comrade

hiramsaint

July 4th, 2012
6:02 pm

on a side note larry- a true sign that one is a dem / lib / marxist is the fact that no argument can be offered , only name calling and made up stories with no basis in fact . time to enjoy the horror comrade

Samuel

July 4th, 2012
7:11 pm

HE’S HERE SIMPLY BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE’LL GET ALOT OF PLAYING TIME. I LIKE THE FACT, HE COULD BE A STARTER SOONER THAN LATER.

Cleveland Ave. Turk

July 4th, 2012
7:21 pm

Enter your comments here

Sport

July 4th, 2012
7:28 pm

Larry-SeenThisB4
One day you yall might be as close as two fleas in a dogs ear. ( Old Andy Griffith saying).

Greg

July 4th, 2012
7:46 pm

At under $1 mil this is a total upside situation for the Falcons. Don’t ask me the odds that he will be of great help to us (after all, he was released by people who knew him the best), but I say, why the hell not? The guy has a pedigree, and we can always use more knowledge and experience in the secondary. If he turns out to be too slow, or not fully recovered from his injuries, we’ll cut him, and we’re out practically nothing. Seems worth a chance.

[...] an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitiution, Falcons safety Chris Hope stated that he signed with the Falcons because he believes they can be a [...]

SeenThisB4

July 4th, 2012
8:04 pm

@Greg: You are absolutely correct with that analysis, the Saints did the same with Sharper a few years back. But, don’t blow smoke up everybody’s rear ends, Hope isn’t Sharper, not even close. He’s a camp body, pure and simple.

Rikus

July 5th, 2012
12:13 am

“free agency was essentially over by the end of March”

Right because no free agency signing after March have ever made a big impact on a successful team…

SeenThisB4

July 5th, 2012
7:36 am

The point being Rikus, that there weren’t a bunch of teams vying for his services and making him offers. The falcan’ts made the only offer.

PMC

July 5th, 2012
9:45 am

I think Chris Hope could start for this team by the time September rolls around. I’m glad we have a lot of intelligent guys in the safety position, hopefully Chris Hope can help Thomas Decoud with his reads and angles.

WTF???

July 5th, 2012
10:02 am

Welcome aboard Chris look forward to you helping out in our Championship quest. Here’s another one for you folks What do you think about trading a 7th rounder for Colt McCoy. I think he’s better than everyone thinks. You gotta have talent around you to be successful after all it is a team sport. Kind reminds me of a similar situation in San Diego a few years back. We all know how that turned out we face it twice a year.