Schultz’s Digi-Blog goes to Falcons training camp!

FLOWERY BRANCH — Welcome back to another Digi-Blog. In our inaugural digital photo tour through SEC Media Days, we learned just how many people in the state of Alabama have nothing better to do than crowd into a hotel lobby, hoping to get a glimpse of Nick Saban and stand within Moon Pie-chucking range of Phil Fulmer.

This weekend, I visited the opening of Falcons training camp in Flowery Branch. If you’ve never been to Flowery Branch, it’s the place where you wind up when you accidentally overshoot Lake Lanier Islands. You’ll know it because there will be a sign just off Interstate 985 that reads: “Welcome to Flowery Branch: It’s not the end of the world but you can see it from here.”

Anyway, on with the tour. As always, people, keep your arms and legs inside at all times. And remember, we work off tips.

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These are the gates outside of the Falcons’ practice facility. The team holds training camp here and is based here all season. Note, the gates are locked.

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There are a privileged few of us who know the secret code to get in. But I’m guessing officials from the city of Flowery Branch will now mandate the code be changed and that I not be told the new one, given how I’ve just likened their town to Winnipeg.

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Before we go inside, I know everybody has been wondering whatever happened to Bobby Petrino.

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The Falcons have a number of things set up for fans at training camp. But you can imagine my reaction when I saw this: Cheerleader autographs — 17 OR UNDER ONLY?!?!

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Ahhh. Much better. Thank you to my new pen pals, Erika (left) and Denita. And now, let me drift back to a time when I could talk to two pretty girls and their combined ages actually exceeded mine.

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Most fans come to training camp just to watch practice. Frankly, I’m not sure I’d want to spend an off day doing that. Maybe it’s because I spend so many work days doing it. Fans cheered every time Matt Ryan completed a pass to Tony Gonzalez, which was often because his usual target, Roddy White, is somewhere in air conditioning.

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After practice, you can get autographs. (Please do not ask, “Who are you?” or, “Can you give this football to someone famous to sign?”)

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Most fans are pretty normal. This guy, Michael “Stats” Wallin, would be the exception. It looks like he’s scaring the kid on the left. Heck, he scared me. “I probably look a little bit extreme,” he conceded. “But this is my personality.” “Stats” does tree work in real life. Not sure if he ever fell out of one.

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Stats’ claims his jersey is authentic. But if you’ll settle for a replica, you can buy one. I thought about it but they seemed to be out of my lucky number 7.

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You can even buy an authentic Falcons’ purse, just like the one used by DeAngelo Hall.

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Sometimes, fans get to see things the team would rather keep in-house. For example, here’s safety Eric Brock, clearly dejected and leaning on his knees after getting scolded by assistant coach Joe Danna for wearing the wrong-colored beanie, I think.

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Late in training camp, the Falcons take the final five candidates for the punt coverage team and drop them from here. The lone survivor wins a roster spot.

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OK, enough of this boring stuff. General manager Thomas Dimitroff seems distracted, so . . .

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… let’s go inside the building.

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Wow. It’s amazing the things they can do with peel-and-stick tiles.

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“And for his outstanding performance in the role of Christopher Boyce as ‘The Falcon,’ the Oscar goes to …” (Sorry, Arthur. Couldn’t resist.)

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The walls lining the hallway leading to the locker room are covered with photos of Falcons players, past and present. I’m assuming the ones of Michael Vick were being dusted, because I couldn’t find them.

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This is Laura Godsey Moore, executive assistant to Dimitroff. Do not misjudge her smile. She picked up blunt objects with both hands when I took a step toward Dimitroff’s office. But $20 got me through the door.

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Dimitroff calls this his “BFR list.” It’s hanging behind his desk and breaks down the odds of making it in the NFL. And so ended my thoughts of a tryout.

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Next to the BFR list is Dimitroff’s credenza. Laura (still holding blunt objects) told me that behind those two doors on the right are everything important to him — draft books, salary cap information, video tapes, scouting information he brought with him from New England and probably the coordinates of Russian spy satellites. And no, another $20 couldn’t convince her to open the doors.

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This was Dimitroff later, not looking amused when I asked him if I could see what was in his office.

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And here he is when he found out I was already there. (True story: When I asked him what would happen to me if I actually saw something, he said: “You might be hired for a very large salary.”)

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By the way, this is the view from the porch outside the second-floor executive offices. I would’ve stayed but none of the phones in Dimitroff’s office showed an extension for room service.

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This is Arthur Blank’s office. I wasn’t concerned about Laura attacking me if got any closer to the desk — just Uzi-carrying Secret Service agents.

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Meanwhile, here is Blank outside, signing autographs. That’s the Falcons’ executive vice president, Kim Shreckengost with him, I believe asking fans seeking autographs to either buy season tickets or drop something into the change cup for a new stadium. (Pretty sure she’s going to kill me for that.)

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Coach Mike Smith patiently answers questions about dealing with the distractions of Roddy White’s absence and reports of a media spy infiltrating their offices. That’s vice president of communications Reggie Roberts standing behind Smith, regretting giving me access.

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So ends our tour. Hope you enjoyed it. If you have suggestions for another Digi-Blog, pass them along.

58 comments Add your comment

Brian

August 2nd, 2009
6:58 pm

Better viewed with the “Fly High Falcons” 45 spinning in the background. If you’re interested, I’ll hook you up with a link to the song.

Reid Adair

August 2nd, 2009
7:00 pm

That’s fantastic, Jeff. Very well done.

Glad the cheereleaders took care of you. And Thomas Dimitroff’s “Brutal Facts of Reality”? I’ve seen those same stats to explain how “NFL” stand sfor “Not For Long.”

AD

August 2nd, 2009
7:06 pm

Hilarious Shultzie. Well done

bali smith

August 2nd, 2009
7:09 pm

what a great story Jeff. Enjoyed the pictures and the commentary was great too. Maybe you should use more pictures in your columns and blogs. Just a suggestion. Your next Digi blog should be on a day at the Ballpark. I think real fans would like to know what really goes on in a press Box

bali smith

August 2nd, 2009
7:10 pm

is digi blog a shultz original

Daniel Bell

August 2nd, 2009
7:13 pm

Chea

August 2nd, 2009
7:18 pm

Cool blog Jeff.

Sonny Clusters

August 2nd, 2009
7:22 pm

Jeff, we was up on the hill but we wasn’t in the picture. I thought that was you but it looked too old to be you judging from the picture at the top of this page. We was always using old pictures when we was state champion because we wanted it to last. Well, they is a baseball game coming on so all this football talk has to stop. See you later.

ToccoaBird

August 2nd, 2009
7:34 pm

Flowery Branch is a beautiful town and you should NEVER be allowed there again. Stay in Atlanta city boy.

william cranman

August 2nd, 2009
8:10 pm

This is great stuff Jeff.

RTibbs

August 2nd, 2009
8:16 pm

One of your best. Very entertaining.

Rober Yates

August 2nd, 2009
8:23 pm

Dimitroff giving the bird was hilarious!!!!!!!

jacksonite

August 2nd, 2009
8:29 pm

Jeff, I am sure there was way more chances @ getting pictures with the cheerleaders than just 1 time,..they were pretty,..but lets see more of them,…please

Jeff Schultz

August 2nd, 2009
8:40 pm

Reid – thanks. Yeah, those numbers are pretty staggering.

AD – thanks.

Bali – thanks. Yes, accept no imitations!

Sonny – next time say hey and we can split some beef jerky.

Williams, RTibbs – thanks.

Robert – pretty sure you miss-see.

Jacksonite – if I take too many, I’ll be escorted out by security.

Jeff Schultz

August 2nd, 2009
8:42 pm

ToccoaBird — Sorry, skipped you. You the mayor?

Ryno

August 2nd, 2009
8:49 pm

HAHAHAHA!!

Mr. Schultz – that painting of Mr. Blank is priceless. Its so corny – it’s great.
If you go back, can you do a “Round 2 Digi-Blog” of the weight room/media room?

Sonny Clusters

August 2nd, 2009
9:07 pm

We was listening to Joe Morgan until we couldn’t stand it no more.

BugKiller

August 2nd, 2009
9:12 pm

Jeff,

Can when we get a Digi-Blog of whenever it’s decided that Urban Crier will have the stick, or whatever’s up there, removed from his butt?

I think many would want pictures of that.

Thanks!

Country Boy

August 2nd, 2009
9:31 pm

Hello Jeffy boy. Thanks for the interesting blog. Loved the look on the kid next to “stats”. Looks like he was thinking about the famous Falcons pass pattern – the cut and run.

tommy

August 2nd, 2009
9:47 pm

Am I crazy or is the math on Mr. Dimitroffs illustation off. 256+590=946?

Lloyd

August 2nd, 2009
10:41 pm

YES!!! Only one Michael Vick reference.. You guys are hearing us.. You really care!!! THANK YOU!!! Thanks so much for this.. Good stuff.. PLEASE KEEP IT UP!!! (Minus the one remaining Vick reference)

mike

August 2nd, 2009
11:31 pm

well done.. cant believe they dont have any pics of MV7..i wish you could quantify in dollars how much money he put in Arthur’s pockets and the organization in general.. those guys are some haters.. Go birds!

Ted Striker

August 2nd, 2009
11:42 pm

Great photos — I enjoyed. They look nothing like the ones I find myself taking, however.

Bad News

August 2nd, 2009
11:58 pm

Injuries already on the weak defense? That’s not good guys.

NCFalconFan

August 3rd, 2009
12:09 am

Hi Jeff, First I love the way you and Bradley respond to us fans. Thank You!! Secondly, these pictures are great. Thirdly, we have the coolest GM in the league with the coolest last name. Suggestion for a Digi-Blog: Falcons on Gameday. Not sure if Smith would allow you near the players on Gameday but that would be cool. If you can’t get pictures can you write about what the players do the morning of gameday? I was always curious as to what teams do the morning of a game? Do they have breakfast together? Do they drive to the stadium in their cars or ride a bus during home games? Do some players have superstitions?

Again Thanks!!!

moddyd

August 3rd, 2009
12:31 am

Mike you are joking right? Please tell me you are joking.

TB

August 3rd, 2009
12:32 am

Really good job. Those of us that can’t be there appreciate it. Very funny too.

JSS

August 3rd, 2009
2:23 am

Try saving your files as png files so they will load faster! Geez! Please tell that wasn’t a roadside vendor etching of Dick Dastardly with a Falcoun on his arm? HILARIOUS!!! Oh I have my counter out and will be reminding of your can’t let it go moments…

Oh the croissants are delicious!

Adieu you (fill in the blanks)

P.S. It was cold and windy in Stockholm but the women were still 80 times better looking then those alcoholics in Athens!

mowreck

August 3rd, 2009
5:41 am

I’ve seen better looking faces on an iodine bottle. (just kidding). Great Stuff!

billy

August 3rd, 2009
6:05 am

Good article. Thanks, Billy

Lizzie 300

August 3rd, 2009
6:09 am

Next Digi-Blog….on the airplane to the game. Include the coaches, players and flight crew(pilots and flight attendants)

oldbird

August 3rd, 2009
7:20 am

Put a red plastic solo cup in Dimitroff’s hand and he looks like half the guys I went to college with. You just gotta love Arthur, TD and Smitty. What a trinity.

Alex H.

August 3rd, 2009
7:48 am

Great blog Jeff!!!

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

August 3rd, 2009
8:01 am

Jeff, great stuff with one exception…..Flowery Branch. God’s Country… You will pay for that comment just like some scum bag drug dealer I busted…right after he got a round house kick to the head.

Uncle Dave

August 3rd, 2009
8:13 am

Great stuff. Love the Portrait of Arthur and his feathered friend. I guess that replaced the one of him pushing an injured player(who was that guy?) in a wheelchair on the sideline. Some future ideas: Bowling night with the Richts, or how about flying to Oakland and doing “Inside the Al Davis experience” (I cannot imagine what his world is like.) Just thinking about it makes you realize how lucky we are to have Mr. Blank.

MightyQuinn

August 3rd, 2009
8:14 am

Now THIS is the way to start a dreary monday morning! Awesome funny!

Hollywould

August 3rd, 2009
8:40 am

Good job Jeff.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

August 3rd, 2009
8:46 am

By the way, the portrait of Blank looks just like the one on SNL, a skit called “The Falconer” which was features the Falconer and his trusty bird “Donald”. The similarities are uncanny.
http://www.channels.com/feeds/show/13685/Saturday-Night-Live-Video-Channel#/feeds/show/13685/Saturday-Night-Live-Video-Channel

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

August 3rd, 2009
8:53 am

Trainwreck

August 3rd, 2009
9:19 am

Nice. I would love to attend one day

midnite

August 3rd, 2009
9:21 am

Great pics and great digi-blog concept Jeff. The TD “bird” wasn’t for you was it? We should make the bird be our version of tomahawk chop. I’ll be at the 8:00 a.m. Tuesday practice with on field pass. I’m am pumped to say the least.

N

August 3rd, 2009
9:45 am

Can someone make some shirts with the painting of Blank on it? I REALLY want to wear that for every game day this season. Legendary.

mountain_jim

August 3rd, 2009
9:53 am

Really enjoyed this one, Jeff, as I will likely never be in town touring this facility, now I sorta know what its like. Very cool, and funny too!

mountain_jim

August 3rd, 2009
9:59 am

Good eye Tommy, the math on that is brutally non-factual!

FALCONS SORRY

August 3rd, 2009
10:45 am

THOMAS DIMIRTOF! DONT THINK WE DID NOT SEE THAT PHOTO OF YOU JEFF SHULTZ POSTED WHERE YOU ARE FLIPPING OFF THE FANS OF ATLANTA! NOT ALL OF US ARE STUPID ENOUGH TO THINK THAT MATTY HOPELESS YOU DRAFTED TOO HIGH AND STUCK US WITH IS BETTER THAN THE TRUE LEADER WE HAD BEFORE! THAT MIDDLE FINGER YOU ARE SHOWING US IN THAT PICTURE IS A SUBMLIMINAL MESSAGE ABOUT EXACTLY JUST WHAT YOU AND THAT SORRY AUTHUR BLANK THINK ABOUT THE PAYING CUSTOMERS IN THIS TOWN! FALCONS OWNER SHIP HAS BEEN GIVING ATL FANS THE DIRTY BIRD JUST LIKE DIMITROF FOR 43 YEARS AND COUNTING! YOU WILL NOT BE COLLECTING A PAYCHECK HERE LONG WITH THAT TYPE OF ATTITTUDE DIMITROF! YOU NEED TO START WORRYING ABOUT HOW MUCH SMALLER THE CROWDS ARE TO WATCH TRAINING CAMP WITHOUT THE GREAT TICKET SELLER MV7 HERE JUST LIKE THE DOME DONT SELL OUT ANY MORE! JUST WAIT UNTIL MV7 FLIP YOU OFF RIGHT BACK WHEN HE IS WEARING THAT BIG SHINY SUPPER BOWL RING WHEN HE IS ON TOP OF THE WORLD IN MIAMI IN JANUARY! I HOPE YOU STICK YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP RING RIGHT IN THAT HATER FACE MIKE!

[...] Reprints Flowery Branch — How, Matt Ryan, do you top last season? Related Tour Falcons camp [...]

[...] Reprints Flowery Branch — How, Matt Ryan, do you top last season? Related Tour Falcons camp [...]

T.C

August 3rd, 2009
1:26 pm

Booooooooo!!! boring,i guess that means the falcons suck.

bill chaffin

August 3rd, 2009
2:23 pm

That was great stuff.

Robert Yates

August 3rd, 2009
3:04 pm

Actually Jeff, you did catch him flippin’ the bird. Check photo #13.