Update: Ray Hamilton’s response to Mike Smith’s apology

Falcons coach Mike Smith during Sunday's heated game. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Falcons coach Mike Smith during Sunday's heated game. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Falcons coach Mike Smith today expressed remorse for his actions on the sideline near the end of his team’s breathless victory over Carolina on Sunday and said he has apologized to defensive line coach Ray Hamilton.

“It was something that happened in the heat of battle,” Smith said, speaking by phone from team headquarters in Flowery Branch.

Of Hamilton, Smith said: “Ray and I have worked together for 10 years [including five when the two were assistants in Jacksonville]; he’s one of my closest friends in coaching … I apologized to him this morning. I said, ‘I’m very sorry about my action. I’m very sorry about what happened last night.’ ”

Said Hamilton, also via phone: “Mike mentioned it to me this morning. I didn’t even realize anything had happened. I didn’t give it a second thought until somebody called me and asked about it this morning.”

Of Smith’s apology, Hamilton said: “His apology is fine. I’ve been coaching 27 years. On the sideline, all kinds of shoving goes on. You’d be amazed at the stuff that gets said down there. But there’s nothing ever disrespectful. Smitty’s a first-class guy.”

Matt Bryant’s field goal had given the Falcons a 30-28 lead with five seconds remaining, but they still had to defend one last play. After a touchback on the kickoff, Carolina took possession at its 20. Smith saw that the Falcons had only 10 players on the field — he would not identify the missing man — and was less than pleased.

Said Smith: “We were trying to finish the game. We were trying to get the right personnel. We didn’t have the right number of players.”

Fox cameras caught an angry Smith putting both hands on Hamilton’s arm and administering a slight shove. Said Smith: “I was on a tirade — that’s all. I did not push him. I was on a tirade and I threw my hands.”

Thinking quickly, Smith signaled for a timeout before Carolina could snap the ball, knowing full well the Falcons had used their final allotted timeout just after the two-minute warning. He also knew that NFL rules don’t levy a penalty when a team tries to call a timeout it doesn’t have.

The Falcons were able to send an 11th defender into the game while the officials were telling Smith he couldn’t have a timeout, which was his intention all along. “I was trying to get 11 guys on the field,” he said. “We didn’t have 11 guys.”

Mission accomplished. John Abraham sacked Cam Newton on the final play and the Falcons left with one of their most stirring victories in Smith’s four-plus seasons as head coach. In Smith’s mind, however, his tactical coup did not excuse the anger he expressed toward Hamilton.

“Sideline etiquette is important,” Smith said. “I’ve got to be 100 percent. I wasn’t 100 percent.”

For the record, Smith’s 2012 team holds a winning percentage of 1.000. The Falcons are 4-0. And with Sunday’s victory, Smith (47-21) passed Leeman Bennett (46-41) as the second-winningest coach in franchise history. Dan Reeves (49-59-1) ranks first.

By Mark Bradley

290 comments Add your comment

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American

October 1st, 2012
11:30 am

Go Falcons

October 1st, 2012
11:30 am

I am glad, both for the apology and for his getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Shows Smitty is human and cares greatly about the team’s success. He appropriately apologized. Let’s move on the RG III and Washington…

Go Falcons

October 1st, 2012
11:32 am

i.e, to RG III and Washington

P Rose

October 1st, 2012
11:33 am

It’s football, a man’s game. Tempers flare, heads butt. Guys get slapped around a little. Mike “Hit Somebody In The Mouth” Singletary, Mike Ditka, Vince Lombardi — these guys were tough coaches. It’s football, boys. Grow a pair.

This should be a non-issue.

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American)

October 1st, 2012
11:34 am

There ought to be a penalty for calling timeouts you don’t have. Delay of Game… Illegal Procedure. Something.

Defending with only 10 men could have made a big difference. Smitty played within the rules… but that doesn’t make what he did right.

P Rose

October 1st, 2012
11:35 am

Wait for it… Wait for it…

Here comes Choke’s whining about this in 5… 4… 3… 2…

Mark Bradley

October 1st, 2012
11:41 am

Kudos, Weyman.

And I agree: There should be a penalty. I know Chris Webber would second the motion.

Randy

October 1st, 2012
11:45 am

This is an issue between Smitty and Hamilton. But isn’t it nice to have a coach that 1 cares so much and 2 is smart enough to basically get an additional time out from the officials???

Fowl Can

October 1st, 2012
11:48 am

Way to go Smitty! Great game. Now, can we find a way to stop Newton when he rushes? If so, use it on RG the one hundredth and eleventh.

Billy

October 1st, 2012
11:48 am

I agree with P Rose: non-issue!

Ted M

October 1st, 2012
11:49 am

Is there a link to the video?

Mark Bradley

October 1st, 2012
11:49 am

It’s never a bad thing to know the rules of the sport you’re playing. Full credit to Mike Smith for this bit of gamesmanship.

St Simons

October 1st, 2012
11:50 am

I was disappointed, but this is Ray’s call – is he alright wit it

Mike Barfield

October 1st, 2012
11:50 am

Good teams win games ugly, this was an ugly win, we’ll take it! The birds never quit, Michael Turner running into the secondary was fun to watch, you could tell the Carolina backs were tired of tackling him! They looked like bugs getting stuck on the front of a Mack truck going down I-75-85. Kroy Beirman was out of control, great shot of him choking out Steve Smith, thought Smith’s eyes were going to pop out!

Barton

October 1st, 2012
11:51 am

All in the process of… RISING UP ATLANTA!

Robin

October 1st, 2012
11:51 am

Holy Non-Issue Batman!!

Personally I loved seeing Smitty get angry. Matt too. Shows me they wanted the W as much as me! Love this team

Athens Dawg

October 1st, 2012
11:54 am

Wish the Mark Richt had that much passion for winning.

Eisendawg

October 1st, 2012
11:55 am

The fire and passion that Smitty exhibits is the reason the Falcons have been so successful during his tenure. Alot of coaches would have taken it for granted that we had won the game, but he showed why he is the only Falcons coach in history to have two winning seasons in a row.

Mark Bradley

October 1st, 2012
11:55 am

I believe Vince Dooley once got so excited on the sideline he kicked — inadvertently, let me stipulate — an assistant coach in the head and knocked him out. I want to say it was Charlie Whittemore, but I might be wrong.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 1st, 2012
11:56 am

This is a sport of strategy because its not a rule i dont see how smith did anything wrong, i think he did the right thing by his team in doing everything he could to put his team in a position to win. As the head couch thats his responsibility and if he hadnt made that move and we all knew he could and they lost because of it, everyone would be complaining because he didnt do everything in his power to get his team the W. nuff said Smith did right by his team and owner. Go falcons lets have another win against RGIII

ACE

October 1st, 2012
11:57 am

It is great for the Coach to show some fire. After watching Fredi G. for a whole season it is nice to see some fire. Mark, great call on the Chris Webber comment.

alex

October 1st, 2012
11:57 am

Needs to be punished, pick up trash at St.Simons island (see above), Needs to pay a BIG fine ,needs to have his arms taped behind his back for the next game,needs to run a few stadium steps, needs to CRY for forgiveness….

Sheeeeesh,St. Simons you and your like are PATHETIC whiners

WDE

October 1st, 2012
11:58 am

Glad to see he has the common sense to broach the issue and make amends. Oh and where are the talking heads that were dragging Turner down the last couple of weeks, for someone “washed up” and “doesn’t have anything left in the tank” he seemed to do OK this week.

Mark Bradley

October 1st, 2012
11:58 am

He didn’t do anything wrong. He did something very clever. He got his 11th man on the field. That’s great coaching.

Grace

October 1st, 2012
11:58 am

Honestly, it was refreshing to see Smitty and Matt Ryan both get really emotional and worked up towards the end of the game. Sometimes it seems like they’re far too laid back and cool, which makes it all the more frustrating for us fans. Let’s see more aggression & emotion! Although Coach Hamilton is probably hoping not to be on the receiving end next time.

NDAlumAtlantaNative

October 1st, 2012
11:58 am

It looks different in light of a win instead of a loss, just ask Buddy Ryan and Kevin Gilbride.

gtt

October 1st, 2012
12:00 pm

I used to love to watch sideline shots of Dooley getting a pretzel-twisted watching the action on the field. I do that in my chair when I watch.

P Rose

October 1st, 2012
12:01 pm

This is a sport in which gigantic men are running into one another as hard as they can, breaking bones, tearing tendons and giving concussions.

What did Coach Smith do, poke the guy in the belly, or slap his rear with a clipboard?

For crying out loud, anyone who is offended by this is a certified sissy, who has no business watching football.

Ted M

October 1st, 2012
12:01 pm

Mark – Are putting the Jackets in the freezer for your “Heat Check”?

gtt

October 1st, 2012
12:01 pm

all pretzel-twisted

Falcons Chic

October 1st, 2012
12:03 pm

I still want to find out what Smitty said to ABlank? It was definitely during his agitated phase on the sidelines.

FalconJim

October 1st, 2012
12:03 pm

Fiery, but the smarts to go with it….and at the same time, a humbleness that endears his players and coaches. That’s how I describe Mike Smith. Damned lucky to have him…

Ivan

October 1st, 2012
12:04 pm

“Thinking quickly, Smith signaled for a timeout before Carolina could snap the ball, knowing full well the Falcons had used their final allotted timeout just after the two-minute warning. He also knew that NFL rules don’t levy a penalty when a team tries to call a timeout it doesn’t have.”

Brilliant

JRHD

October 1st, 2012
12:05 pm

WOW, is it that slow of a news day? This is so much of a non-issue that it is an issue. CMS has no need to apologize. If we are that much of a mamby pamby society that anyone thinks he needs to apologize for what he did then we all need to collectively grow a set and pull up our big boy underpants. Football is a MAN’S game and grown @$$ men play the game. Life is tough and you get slapped around sometimes…if you don’t like it DO YOUR JOB.

Tom

October 1st, 2012
12:06 pm

I would be upset if they did not behave like that in that situation – Its Football – It is not for everyone, if you have any issue with that then you should go play tennis, badminton or something

SP

October 1st, 2012
12:06 pm

Im glad he apologized..but he needs to stay calm under pressure and not lose his cookies..there will be bigger and more important moments as the season progresses…

George

October 1st, 2012
12:07 pm

I would rather dig ditches than to work with that fool .if my supervisor would hit me or push me I would knock the hell out of them.I am sure he picked who in the hell he would hit.He would not hit some of his players for dam sure he would rather slap his wife because he would loose his dam head.

kjdgf

October 1st, 2012
12:10 pm

souldn’t have taken him til the next day to apologize.

GB's Hamburgers

October 1st, 2012
12:11 pm

Funny story about Dooley but his was inadvertant. Respect is the currency of all human relationships. This was a violation of that and an apology is warranted. Showing “fire” is good but I have never liked those coaches who berate their assistants publicly. But this is an abberation in context of a critical game situation. So, it was not reallly “personal.” It’s a blip on the radar.

PreyDawg

October 1st, 2012
12:13 pm

Loved the passion and also Kudo’s to Ray Hamilton for taking it the way he did. He could have escalated it and he did not. I also noticed a player must have said something to Smith or maybe another assistant did because right after the slap or whatever it was Smith did his hands like. Okay…okay…I’m good…

That leads me to Ryan. Grace if you don’t think Matt Ryan wants to win as bad as anybody in the NFL you have not bee paying attention. This guys is passionate as they come he just keeps a lid on it because he plays the toughest position in sports and he needs his wits about him.

That being said, I don’t think Ryan liked Cam doing his little “First down” motions and doing his dances in the endzone. They showed it briefly on Fox that after the game Ryan pointed toward Carolina and said, (lip reading) Get the _ _ _ _ off my field!!”

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE that!! Best quote and passion I have seen from a Falcon QB in maybe forever. Especially sweet after he just threw a 65 yard bomb. Can danced, Ryan played to the final whistle.

shunny

October 1st, 2012
12:14 pm

This should not be an issue. The media will bring division if allowed. I get so into the game I tend to hit the persons next to me, but they understand the excitemen and displeasure of a tight game.

Coach Johnson

October 1st, 2012
12:15 pm

Jason

October 1st, 2012
12:16 pm

@ Athens Dawg-
Ordinarily, I’d agree with you, but this season I beg to differ: I watched Mark Richt blow his stack during the Vandy game after a false-start penalty was called on the Dawgs when we were up 41-3 or something. Strange goings-on in Athens this year…

Go Falcons. Huge, absolutely huge, win.

randy

October 1st, 2012
12:19 pm

i think everyone missed this, arthur blank was looking right over smith’s shoulder and talking to him.
think the owner should let the coach run the team. smith was under a lot of pressure, you don’t need the owner on your neck.

Curious George

October 1st, 2012
12:21 pm

George for someone who wasn’t there or in on the action you seem to have a lot of anger there yourself. Your profanity and threats of violence (and misspelled words) tell me you get worked up easily. Relax, these men will work it out amongst themselves in private. I will admit that was the most upset I have ever seen him on camera during a game. What he did was inappropriate and he is dealing with it. You can bet he will be under better control in the future. You can also bet his assistant coach will be on top of his business better in the future, too. Peace!

Home of the Braves

October 1st, 2012
12:22 pm

Smitty and the entire team need to sit down in a circle and talk about their feelings and what makes them sad. They then need to draw pitures of flowers and kittens and tape them to the locker rooms walls. Then they need to join hands and sing the entire soundtrack of A SOUND OF MUSIC. Finish it off with a group hug.

Hamad Meander

October 1st, 2012
12:23 pm

I bet he was mad that there was only 10 defenders on the field. What if’s aren’t a good thing to have to deal with when there is only :04 on the clock. Best thing is that the Falcons won and this kind of win makes a team feel unbeatable.

On My Way

October 1st, 2012
12:25 pm

Sorry but Mike Smith is a thug. I saw him push an opposing player who happened to run into him on the sidelines. He got no class.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 1st, 2012
12:25 pm

Ryan played great yesterday now pat hill needs to have a word with that o-line kudos to our offense and defense steping up in the final seconds

JRHD

October 1st, 2012
12:26 pm

@ Home – man I wish there was a “Like” button on AJC blogs…