In the final of the Retro-Post Series, this one’s a really simple one: just list some your favorites memories you have in association with the Atlanta Falcons. Even though its summer, it appears that the NFL season is on the verge of getting some parts lost. Sure, there is still plenty of time for the NFL players and owners to stop their greedfest, but does many fans still have hope that they’ll get it together in three months after having three years? Anyway, we’ve got The Bird Cage to get us through. Your memories are special to YOU and don’t need to be a “highlight of the franchise,” per se, similar to who YOUR favorite Falcons players are. My youth in terms of being a Falcons fan will show, but here goes the list (which is not entirely extensive, because it could go on for days):
First Falcons Game in The Dome – I had the privilege of seeing the Falcons in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium before it got torn down, but due to my age I don’t remember too awful much from the games, except that it was a blast. One of the first games I do remember going to was seeing the Falcons play the Eagles in the newly opened Georgia Dome in 1994 and it was something I’d never forget going with my dad and his cousin. The June Jones led Falcons beat the Eagles that day and it was an awesome day after following the Falcons since I was little.
The Kick – It’s one of those moments you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing at the time. One of the most famous and best games in Falcons franchise history, the Birds shocked the world by going up to Minnesota and beating one of the highest scoring offenses in NFL history. With great defense, Jamal Anderson carrying the load, and timely aerial strikes from Chris Chandler, the Falcons beat the Vikes in the Metrodome to propel them to their only Super Bowl. I was working at The Sport Shoe while at UGA in Athens and they had a big screen TV and the entire place went nuts when the Morten Anderson kick sailed through the uprights. A special time in Falcons history.
First Guy’s Trip – Had always followed the Falcons, but my fandom surged into overdrive when I moved to Atlanta after getting my teaching job. After moving to the Virginia Highlands, Atkins Park bar put on an all-inclusive trip to watch the Falcons play the Bucs in The Dome. It was really special because the trip included my father, my two brothers, and myself.
Playoff Excitement – After a fantastic year, the Falcons were set to take on the Rams in the playoffs in The Georgia Dome. Living in the highlands, my buddy Chelf and I headed out to Dugan’s to watch the big game. Upon getting there, we realized it was a Steelers haven (at least at the time), so we headed to our old stomping ground Atkins Park and had an amazing time watching the Falcons beat down the Rams and glory in the playoffs is something that is unparalleled.
Bottom of the Barrel – Yes, it was one of the worst seasons in Falcons history. The quarterback was Joey Harrington and the Falcons couldn’t play their way out of a paper bag and the scumbag, sleazeball head coach bolted in the middle of the night and things couldn’t really get worse. It was a great experience heading out to see the Falcons play the Seahawks in the home finale. It was significant because it was another family trip, but this one included my uncle who had been overseas teaching abroad for many years. It was also important to remember that the Falcons were my team in good times and bad and it also marked the end of a crappy few years and unknown to us fans, good times were just around the corner.
A New Era – After going to many single games over the last several years, my wife and I became season ticket holders and were beaming with excitement over our first official game, which was the introduction to a new era. It was the first game of the new Dimitroff/Smith/Ryan era and could it have started any better? The first play from scrimmage was a touchdown strike to Michael Jenkins and the Falcons haven’t looked back since. One down side? We were lollygagging in the concession area too long and missed the TD pass first hand. Yep.
A Team of Fighters – There’s so many games that were wonderful experiences in the Dimitroff/Smith Era, but one that sticks out more than any other and set the tone for what character this team would take on was the game vs. the Chicago Bears in 2008. The Falcons had played a really good game and seemingly gave it away right at the end. The Falcons only had 11 seconds left to get a field goal. Seemingly another hard fought game that would go down as a “what could’ve been” experience. With the Bears fans at an all-time obnoxious pitch, Harry Douglas took a squib kick on a good return and Matt Ryan found Michael Jenkins along the sideline for a fantastic catch that put the Falcons in position to win the game on a Jason Elam kick. The Dome went nuts and the tone was set for Coach Smith led teams being fighters who never give up. That identity has served them and us fans well.
A Special Experience – The Falcons held a “Roam the Dome” even during preseason where ticket holders could go and watch a practice and get up close with the players and check out The Dome in a comfortable, less hectic environment. It was exciting to see Tony Gonzalez in Falcons gear for the first time, but the most special thing about the event was taking my newborn son (4 months old), with my wife, to his first Falcons experience. He had his Falcons onesie on and hopefully we got a new Falcons fan for life.
A Night of Excitement – There were tons of heart-pounding games in 2010, but one of the most exciting ones was the primetime match-up of the Falcons and Ravens on Thursday Night Football. It was a good, clean, and hard-hitting game that saw the Falcons jump out on top early on and slowly let the Ravens back in the game and take the lead with less than two minutes remaining. Matt Ryan led the offense on one of his marquee last minute drives and connected with Roddy White for the game-winning touchdown. The place went absolutely crazy. It was also a very special experience because last was the first season my mother got season tickets as well, adding more family to the long list of Falcons fans.
So the list isn’t extensive or exhaustive, but those are some of my favorite Falcons memories (the list could go on for days, because frankly every time I watch the Birds, it’s an awesome time, even in losses and blowouts). Now it’s your turn. List whatever fond memories you have associated with our Beloved Birds.
Just to clarify once more, these are YOUR FAVORITE Falcons memories, not necessarily the highlights of the entire Falcons franchise history.