Atlanta Falcons: Players find national media skeptical of their success




By Michael Cunningham

Standing in the locker room after his team defeated the Cowboys late Sunday night, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez couldn’t quite sell the idea that his team’s national reputation is irrelevant to the players.

Gonzalez said it doesn’t matter that the Falcons don’t seem to get accolades befitting their 8-0 record, a mark that historically has meant good odds to reach the Super Bowl. A few beats later, however, Gonzalez acknowledges that players check out game highlights to see “how the media is recognizing you, whether if it’s good or bad.”

Gonzalez muses that he “can’t wait to see from all of the [media] outlets if they are just going to make it about the Cowboys’ underachieving or are they going to say the Falcons are a good team.”

But ultimately Gonzalez acknowledged that skepticism of the Falcons is not without cause.

“We haven’t had success in the playoffs, so everybody’s like. ‘Oh, same story, they’re good during the regular seasons, so let’s not make a big deal out of it because they’re going to lose in the playoffs,’” he said. “I understand why, but it’s up to us to keep doing what we’ve been doing, put all that noise out of our minds.”

To be sure, the “noise” doesn’t matter much in real terms. This isn’t college football, where public perception can influence the polls and thus the chance for teams to play for a national championship. If the Falcons make the playoffs, they can win a championship.

Still, as Gonzalez said, players tend to like positive attention from media. Falcons fans want to feel good about their team and, no doubt, brag about them.

As the Falcons keep winning to remain the only undefeated team in the NFL, a few national pundits give them respect.

“We talk about model franchises — and New England and Pittsburgh for the last decade or so, people have said they are the model franchises — I’m going to put Atlanta in that category right now, too,” NBC “Sunday Night Football” broadcaster Al Michaels said.

His colleague in the studio, Tony Dungy, has been a consistent Falcons booster — with a caveat.

“I believe,” Dungy said Sunday, “but they’ve got to win a playoff game first.”

The Falcons haven’t been able to do it in their past three tries. That’s at the root of why the betting public doubts them and national media gravitate to other contenders.

The sports books generally have the Falcons as the seventh choice to win the Super Bowl. They have longer championship odds than four other NFC teams: the 49ers, Packers, Giants and Bears.

“The Giants are a football team that is better than Atlanta,” Fox NFL studio analyst Terry Bradshaw said before Sunday’s games. “They’re better offensively and defensively, and I would go so far as to say that the 49ers are, too.”

The betting odds for the Falcons don’t match up with the history of 8-0 teams.

Since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule, beginning with the 1978 season, 14 other teams won their first eight games. Nine of those teams played in the Super Bowl and six won it.

Then again, four of the teams lost their first playoff game, including the 2011 Packers. Yet Green Bay still gets the benefit of the doubt because it won it all two seasons ago, defeating a 13-win Falcons team in the Georgia Dome along the way.

Clearly the Falcons need a postseason run such as recent ones by the 49ers, Packers and Giants to earn notice. And it’s not just recent history that helps fuel skepticism of the Falcons.

Teams such as the Giants, Packers and Bears have played since early in the 20th century. Their trophy cases are full of championships spanning different decades.

Since starting play in 1966, the Falcons have had more seasons with four victories or fewer (12) than seasons that concluded in the playoffs (11). They lost their only appearance in the Super Bowl.

“We are not like the darlings of the NFL,” Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said in explaining the relative lack of attention for his team.

They don’t have to be to win a Super Bowl.

“Who cares? We are just going to keep racking up ‘W’s …,” Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson said. “It doesn’t matter what people say, what they think about us. We just keep finding ways to win. We are going to keep doing that.

LATEST NEWS

Mike Smith says no major injury for Peria Jerry

Goodell met with Gov. Deal, Mayor Reed to discuss stadium deal

Falcons’ playtime percentage chart vs. Cowboys

Roddy White becomes all-time reception leader

Post game comments from the Falcons locker room

Falcons pull out 19-13 victory over Cowboys to improve to 8-0

OTHER RECENT NEWS

Sean Weatherspoon is out for Sunday’s game vs. Dallas

Matt Ryan is climbing the charts to elite status

Tony Gonzalez needs four catches to reach 50 mark for 15th straight season

Video: Matt Ryan on scoring in the red zone

UNDEFEATED: Can the Falcons pull it off?

57 comments Add your comment

Season Ticket Holder

November 7th, 2012
1:22 pm

Season Ticket Holder

November 7th, 2012
1:25 pm

Until the Falcons dominate in the post season, the media will doubt how good this is. Just keep winning!!!

Wendell

November 7th, 2012
1:33 pm

Bring back the THRASHERS.

Greg

November 7th, 2012
2:16 pm

I hope we go 19-0, of course, but everyone has a right to be skeptical, as we haven’t yet beaten a team that has a winning record this season.

lowdownjj

November 7th, 2012
2:22 pm

The lack of national attention does bother me. But I don’t like hearing the players complain about it. Hope they put that out of their mind and JUST WIN BABY!

Gamer

November 7th, 2012
2:26 pm

Falcons must focus on winning NFC South Division and then focus on postseason NOT A PERFECT WIN RECORD……..Taking assessments in these steps will carry Falcons to SuperBowl…..

It is still one game at a time……….the next game is the most important one……..Falcons stay focus…..

FALCONS ON THREE, DOMINATE……….

Hindu Elvis Pimp

November 7th, 2012
2:31 pm

Not sure why there is so much angst over media attention. DOL posts 2 – 3 blogs a day about the Falcons. It’s not like it ESPN does not give the team more coverage, they will be excluded from a BCS bowl.

It could be worse….They could do a Super Bowl Shuffle video.

I'm Gumby, Dammit!!

November 7th, 2012
2:43 pm

Bring on the Taints.

I'm Gumby, Dammit!!

November 7th, 2012
2:44 pm

Speaking of which, anybody seen STB4??

Dirty Rocky Mtn Bird

November 7th, 2012
2:47 pm

I love this team’s attitude. Just keep taking care of business. And RISE the F UP.

Man.....

November 7th, 2012
2:53 pm

I hope we go into New Orleans and blow them out of the water.

A win there, most likely ensures a 10-0 start for us. (Arizona next week is a lock, no problem)

Not to mention, a win would also give this regime 5 straight winning seasons.

Esquire

November 7th, 2012
3:13 pm

Wendell
November 7th, 2012
1:33 pm

Bring back the THRASHERS.
************************************

Naw, you go to Winnipeg.

Michael M.

November 7th, 2012
3:21 pm

Falcons could care less as most Fans also what the media thinks……………..Just keep on winning baby and everybody else can ” just shaddup! “………………………………………………………….

I usually just read but...

November 7th, 2012
3:22 pm

I don’t care what the media has to say. I’ve listened to them flip flop 3 or 4 times in a single ball game. They have no reseect for the Falcons? That’s damn funny right there. I have absoutely no respect for flip-floping talking heads. By the end of the season and the Falcons are home thru the playoffs watch and see how many of them have have flip-flopped and on the wagon. F the media, you can’t fix stupid, no pill they can take or class they can go to. Stupid is forever, ain’t it Bradshaw.

Michael M.

November 7th, 2012
3:22 pm

By the way…………………..what happen to all those Trolls? ………………………..hahahahaha

Jay Dubu

November 7th, 2012
3:23 pm

The Giants have some very good down linemen on the defensive line, but the overall team is no better than the Falcons.

The Falcons have a payback whopping scheduled for them this season, so we’ll see then.

The 49ers are overrated! They have a good running game, and a good defense, but their passing game can be suspect.

warfalcon

November 7th, 2012
3:27 pm

Hey talking heads we can not play 8 games at once,you have to play ONE GAME AT A TIME,AND WE HAVE 8 LEFT,starting with the aints.then one game after that then 1 then 1 then 1 then 1 then 1 and then one more,then the playoffs starts ONE GAME AT A TIME. LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay Dubu

November 7th, 2012
3:33 pm

In the NFL, you have to play the teams on your schedule. All the players in the NFL are getting paid as professionals.

The Fsalcons have beaten 1 team with a winning rercord – Denver.

The Giants have beaten 1 team with a winning record – San Fran.

And San Fran has beaten 2 teams with winning records, Seattle & Minnesota. Neither of them are considered world beaters.

dbird1

November 7th, 2012
4:36 pm

Dled. any chance the game this week gets flexed to the afternoon?

hiramsaint

November 7th, 2012
4:45 pm

alot of fans feel the same way

inkspot

November 7th, 2012
5:20 pm

William Moore, in a post-game interview, said it best: “We won’t get any respect until we get a ring.”

That’s your story in a nutshell. Meanwhile this Falcons team is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

NoExcuses

November 7th, 2012
5:24 pm

Not making excuses and definitely hopeful of a Super Bowl win this year, but it does bring some comfort that all three teams that beat the Falcons in the playoffs went to the Super Bowl themselves with two of them taking the Lombardi. Atlanta had the misfortune of playing the hot team first. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, but I’ll take any of the last four seasons over 2007 any day.

Brent

November 7th, 2012
5:50 pm

Falcons first loss this week. Who Dat!!!

ZinoDawg

November 7th, 2012
5:51 pm

Dunta needs to keep quiet and get some practice. He has to be one of the worst DB’s in the history of the NFL.

Crabkilla

November 7th, 2012
6:15 pm

We need to forget about this undefeated garbage. We need focus on going down to Louisiana and humiliating those swamp rats. They built a statue mocking the Falcons as a rally tool. I am sick of hearing about Hurricane Katrina. They peed on our field in 2010. Brees has become a certified Prima Donna celebrating himself any chance he gets. We should be out for blood.

Brent

November 7th, 2012
6:28 pm

Sounds like y’all are jealous. Too bad you have Matty Slush!

Judge Smails

November 7th, 2012
6:40 pm

Agreed Zino Dawg…Dunta Robinson needs to learn how to wrap a tackle and quit bouncing off them.

Other than taht, just keep winning and hope for the best in the playoffs.

Judge Smails

November 7th, 2012
6:41 pm

PRICELESS

November 7th, 2012
6:51 pm

Matty Melt choking AGAIN in the Failcans first playoff game this year

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
7:34 pm

Actually, the Falcs are lucky that the desk jockeys of the sports media don’t hold court over the NFL like the do college ball. If they did, our 8-0 Falcons would be ranked somewhere below the Saints and our chances of even getting to the playoffs would be based on some cesspool gimmick like the BCS rankings.

So… thank gawd for the NFL and the idea that wins & losses mean more than style points to people who have less value than an old Ford Pinto.

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
7:39 pm

WTF is going on here with the frakin censoring?????????????????????????????????

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
7:43 pm

I will continue to try and comment here if it takes all doggone night and tomorrow. There is absolute NOTHING wrong with what I am saying!

4BsihTneeS

November 7th, 2012
7:44 pm

@ Mike Franklin: A little success has turned DLed and Cunningham into fascists.

The National football pundits have it right though.

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
7:45 pm

Fascists is right

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
7:53 pm

).erif thguac netfo taht s0791 eht fo rac sseleulav gninaem drow derosnec( dlo na naht eulav ssel evah ohw elpoep ot stniop elyts naht erom naem sessol dna sniw taht aedi eht dna LFN eht rof )gnieb tirips tnetopinmo na rof drow( knaht …oS

.sgniknar SCB eht ekil kcimmig emos no desab eb dluow sffoyalp eht ot gnitteg neve fo secnahc ruo dna stnias eht woleb erehwemos deknar eb dluow snoclaF ho-dna-thgie ruo ,did yeht fI .egelloc od yeht ekil LFN eht revo yaws dloh t’nod aidem strops eht fo seikcojksed eht taht ykcul era snoclaF eht ,yllautcA

NOTE: Thirteenth attempt to post this comment. (Gonna try reverse text.)

Fools Gold

November 7th, 2012
7:53 pm

Going 0-3 in the playoffs and beating losing teams will do that.

4BsihTneeS

November 7th, 2012
7:53 pm

@Crabkilla: LOL! You’ll be on your knees with your head in your hands on Sunday evening! LOL!

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
7:53 pm

Amazing… I run my comment in reverse and the AJC censor accepts it.

What a freakin joke.

Fools Gold

November 7th, 2012
7:56 pm

@Jay Dubu

Didn’t the Falcons offense get shutout by the Giants in the playoffs?

4BsihTneeS

November 7th, 2012
7:59 pm

leave outthe reference to my team’s name, and I think you’ll clear the filter.

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
7:59 pm

Fools Gold – That was last year.

4BsihTneeS

November 7th, 2012
8:01 pm

Amazing that they filter out their primary rivals’ team name. LOL!

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
8:01 pm

I’ll be damned! I cannot use the name of the New Orleans NFL franchise on the pages of the Atlanta Journal/Constitution?

What a pile of BULL SH|T!

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
8:01 pm

I I said ‘ain’ts’… would it have worked???

Mike Franklin

November 7th, 2012
8:03 pm

That is so screwed up… I’m going back to the Falcoholic… where it is safe to speak the holy name of that sh|t team from NO

4BsihTneeS

November 7th, 2012
8:03 pm

I’m out of here, Good Luck this week end. And by that I just mean that I hope your plane doesn’t crash on the way over here, well, on second thought……

JMS

November 7th, 2012
8:07 pm

We lost in the playoffs in 2009 to the Cardinals (went to Super Bowl), in 2011 to the Packers (WON SUPER BOWL), and 2012 to the Giants (WON Super Bowl).

Yes, we have lost in playoffs every time, but media never mentions this

DawgNole

November 7th, 2012
8:09 pm

Don’t know why anyone would be surprised at the lack of national respect for the Falcons. ZERO championships in their 46-year existence pretty well explains that.

This season, obviously, the team has a great start on erasing that tired old “Losersville” label. Keep winning, Falcons–not only in the reg season, but also in the playoffs–and you’ll earn a healthy dose of respect from the football world.

DawgNole

November 7th, 2012
8:15 pm

JMS
November 7th, 2012
8:07 pm

We lost in the playoffs in 2009 to the Cardinals (went to Super Bowl), in 2011 to the Packers (WON SUPER BOWL), and 2012 to the Giants (WON Super Bowl).
Yes, we have lost in playoffs every time, but media never mentions this
__________________________

Just more in a long line of excuses. After 46 years, there are no legitimate excuses for not winning even one championship. Hopefully this year will be different.

[...] Falcons From Other Great Blogs issue #1 By NFC South Daily Editor, on November 7th, 2012 Atlanta Falcons: Players find national media skeptical of their success – blogs.ajc.com 11/07/2012 By Michael Cunningham Standing in the locker room after his team [...]