Man in the Stands

Just another Falcons fan’s thoughts about the Super Bowl aftermath

It’s been six days.

I gave myself six whole days to decompress and get over Atlanta’s loss in Super Bowl 51.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Falcons, but that’s because I’ve never been a fan of the NFL. That all began to change after Atlanta defeated Oakland in the second week of the season. The team definitely had my attention when it won four of its first five games. I started making a point to watch games down the stretch or listen to the games if I was in the car.

I began to care.

The Saturday before the big game, I purchased my first Falcons jersey – yeah, you can call me a bandwagon fan. I’m cool with that – a red Devonta Freeman (Go Noles!) jersey with the Super Bowl 51 logo on the left chest. I donned it on Sunday as I watched.

Like every one else, I watched that first half with glee. Freeman’s big run, I went nuts. Coleman’s catch for a TD out of the backfield, crazy again. Hooper’s touchdown just added to the joy.

Again, like every other Falcons fan, my hopes at halftime were WAAAAY up. Then the second half kicked off and the rest is history. Literally. The largest comeback (read: collapse) by a team in Super Bowl history as well as the first Super Bowl to go to overtime.

I had to get off the couch and stand for the final three minutes of regulation and for the overtime period. My nerves were shot.

After the game was over, I headed home in disbelief. I didn’t feel sad. I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t angry. I just could’t believe what I’d just watched.

As I listened to 92.9-The Game all week, the hosts were trying to help listeners and themselves through the stages of grief.

Sure, I went through those stages as well, but I went through them in a matter of hours. By the time I woke up Monday morning, I was just confused as to how. That’s all. I’d already hit the acceptance stage. Just confusion remained.

Honestly, I don’t think I every really hit that sadness or anger about the loss of the game itself. What got me was what the team was able to accomplish. It sucked me in and gave me a reason to watch the NFL (you know, outside of fantasy football). Not only that, it gave the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia something to rally around. We don’t get that too often.

I guess I was somewhat upset about the loss, but that was because I think this city needed that win. We’ve had teams do well and fall short pretty much every time. Atlanta sports NEEDED that win. We needed that parade down Peachtree.

Instead, we got what we always do. We were let down (in a colossal way) in the biggest of moments. We were forced to turn our highest of highs into “acceptance” of a loss. While I don’t feel like any true sports fans who were pulling for the Falcons in that game will ever fully accept that loss, I feel like we can all appreciate the ride. Not only that, we can look forward to what the future holds for our organization.

As I started to think of that, eventually my thoughts started to turn to “thank yous.”

Thank you to the team. Thank you to the city for Rising Up and collectively letting everyone know how this “bad sports town” supports its teams.

Thank you to everyone affiliated with the Falcons, from the hot dog vendor to Arthur Blank, from the cheerleaders to Matt Ryan, from the training staff to Dan Quinn.

I enjoyed the ride and I can’t wait to get back for more.

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