It’s the night of February 5th, 2017. Tom Brady throws a quick slant intended for Danny Amendola that Robert Alford reads perfectly and there’s no catching him. The Falcons are up 21-0 late in the first half, as Brady heads to the bench on the sidelines to shoot laser beams into the ground for the next few minutes.
The Patriots would add a field goal just before half time.
Lady Gaga puts on a spectacle of a performance that I missed because I was too busy buying the next round of beers to enjoy what was supposed to become the end of the Atlanta curse that has gone on since the year I was born, 1995. The half starts, and the celebration continues. Atlanta marches down the field for a touchdown, capped off by a Tevin Coleman TD catch that saw him skipping into the end zone he was so wide open. It was normal. That was all we had seen from Kyle Shanahan’s offense in 2016. The Falcons led 28-3.
We all know what happens from there, and since, us Falcons fans have had to suffer the uncomparable grief that comes with such a collapse. We are the butt of the joke, as we should be, and nobody reminds us quite like Saints fans.
Following the game, I walked out of the stadium in utter shock, found a bench outside and stared at the ground in disbelief much like Brady did following Alford’s pick-six. The difference was, unlike Brady, there was nothing I could do about it.
I had a hotel room that night. It was the same hotel that the Patriots’ friends and family were staying at. I had even talked to Danny Amendola at the hotel the day before the game. He appeared to be a nice guy. Little did I know he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would play a key role in ripping my heart out the next day.
That’s neither here nor there; however. The point is by the time I arrived at my hotel; they were prepping for a celebration I knew I didn’t want to see or hear, so me and brother – who accompanied me to the game – decided to drive back to Lousiana State University where we both went to school.
We arrived in Baton Rouge around 4 A.M, assuming nobody would be awake, but as we walk into my brother’s apartment, one of his roommates is standing there. He sees us, comes in, laughs and says, “Still no ring,” and then heads back into his bedroom.
If you’re not familiar with Louisiana, I’ll inform you, that state bleeds black and gold. This so-called friend stayed up until 4 A.M just to hit us with a little one-line zinger that felt like a bullet from a Barret 50 cal.
That’s what it is like being an Atlanta native that went to school at LSU.
For the next few months and really years (it’s ongoing with Saints fans), they never cease to remind us of that tragic day that took place nearly two years ago. They’ve made billboards, shirts, Mardi Gras floats, tweets, memes, hell they even threw a parade celebrating our loss.
And the thing is, I’m not upset with them. I respect the level that this rivalry has risen too. It has become one of the most fun to be a part of in the entire league. But don’t think we aren’t going to be just as petty.
Last year, I had the pleasure of watching the Saints and Vikings square off in the Divisional round with my good friend, who happens to be a die-hard Saints fan. I had already given my disingenuous congratulations before Case Keenum wound up and threw a dime to Stephon Diggs, and then, Marcus Williams’s infamous blunder happened. I swear I had never watched a man’s soul leave his body until that day.
My friend went on to lay – face down – on the ground for the next hour or so but it didn’t take more than a second for his mom, who is an Atlanta native and Falcons fan, to shoot him a text saying, ” Haha. SAINTS SUCK!!”
I still don’t know if he has ever recovered. That’s what kind of rivalry this is.
As Falcons fans, it’s our job for the remainder of the postseason to cheer against the Saints. Then it’s our job to make fun of them after they lose. I don’t want to hear the word “Who Dat” once this summer. I don’t want to hear them talking about how they have two rings, and we have none, even though we’ve had more opportunities to capitalize on. I don’t want to hear about Drew Brees being the GOAT. And I damn sure do not want to hear about how they came into our city and won a Super Bowl.
These are things that – as an LSU grad – I’ll have to experience quite a bit more than your average Falcons’ fan. But if you ever want to have another logical argument with a Saints fan again, you better pray they fall short, or they will once again have our number, and we will return to being the butt of the joke.
Once the season ended, the Falcons released this – honestly weird – video about rising back up after a disappointing 2018. It’s a little too soft for a team that put together such a porous product on the field. But hey, it applies here.
This wasn’t the season we expected.
But in spite of the ache,
We will rise again. pic.twitter.com/2HMR0ye2cn
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) December 26, 2018
As Falcons’ fans, we rise, for anybody but the Saints!