Falcons To Play In The Super Bowl

012317 falcons photos CC5

I can hardly believe it myself.  Did I just type that headline?

For the second time in team history the Atlanta Falcons will play in the Super Bowl.

As I wrote in a previous post, it has never been easy to be a Falcons’ fan.  To be a follower of the Falcons has meant many years of frustration with a few good years mixed in.  This is one of those good years.  I am enjoying it while it lasts.

The Falcons won their biggest game in the last game to be played in the Georgia Dome.

Even at halftime with a 24-0 lead, I couldn’t relax.  I had hoped they would assume that no lead was safe with Aaron Rodgers.  It wasn’t until the Green Bay Packers put in their backup quarterback late in the fourth quarter that I was finally able to breathe normally again.  With Rodgers on the other team, you can never assume any lead is safe.  I was glad it didn’t come down to another Hail Mary pass at the end.

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, fans were torching Matt Ryan and Falcons’ Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shananan on Facebook.  It was awful watching Ryan throw interceptions and opposing defensive backs return them for a touchdown.  After opening up a 5-0 record last season, the Falcons crashed and burned with an 8-8 record.  The bright spot of the season was when the Falcons handed the Carolina Panthers their only loss in the regular season.  That game may have set the stage for the foundation for this season.

Quickly I looked up the biggest fourth quarter comeback in National Football League (NFL) history.  Even then, I was still worried.  I thought if anyone who could make NFL history it would be Rodgers.  Thankfully it never happened.  This game seemed to be destined to be in the Falcons’ favor.  The game might have been closer had Packers’ receivers hadn’t dropped a handful of passes.  So, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Rodgers had made headlines poking fun at the “fake” crowd noise the Falcons’ had gotten in trouble with in the past.  Quite honestly, it didn’t seem like crowd noise was much of a factor.  I was a little surprised that the fans weren’t louder but it might have been due to the fact that the game wasn’t close.  Rodgers’ ego was loud enough as he could be seen complaining to the officials every time he was hit.

So now, the Falcons will play the most successful team in Super Bowl history when they face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in two weeks.

New England Patriots in the Super Bowl:

  • XX lost to the Chicago Bears, 46-10.
  • XXXI lost to the Green Bay Packers, 35-21.
  • XXXVI defeated the St. Louis Rams, 20-17.
  • XXXVIII defeated the Carolina Panthers, 32-29.
  • XXXIX defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21.
  • XLII lost to the New York Giants, 17-14.
  • XLVI lost to the New York Giants, 21-17.
  • XLIX defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24.

Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl:

  • XXXIII lost to the Denver Broncos, 34-19.

The Patriots are playing in their 9th Super Bowl game in team history.  That’s a lot of tradition that the Falcons will have to overcome.

So, now, I have two weeks to get my energy back and get ready for the big game.

 

Advertisements

Does God Forget Me Sometimes?


Have you ever been forgotten?

It stings doesn’t it?

We all have experienced the pain of being overlooked, ignored or forgotten at some time in our lives. 

Sometimes I wonder if God does the same thing with us.  I don’t mean that He does it on purpose or that it is a mean thing.  It’s just hard for our minds to comprehend that He could possibly keep track of the billions of people on Earth all at the same time.  

We are told that God is omniscient.  He is supposed to be everywhere at the same time all the time.  But how is that possible?   I know He’s God and all that but don’t you feel like He’s busy somewhere else sometimes?

Well the Bible says this:

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3). 

Seriously?  Be honest with yourself.  How can you be absolutely sure God hasn’t forgotten you?  Maybe He just goes silent for a reason. 

Have you been in those silent places?

We do all the things we are supposed to do that we learned in “How to Be A Christian for Dummies” yet when we pray, nothing changes.  The sick are not healed and no one is converted.  We read the Bible yet we don’t feel God’s presence. We go to church and leave feeling worse than we did when we entered the building.  

I’m not going to give you some easy cliche answer. I will just tell you that it isn’t easy when you feel forgotten by God.  You just have to find your way through it.  That’s the best I can offer you on this subject.   I won’t tell you that God is always with you because, quite honestly, there are times that it seems He isn’t there and I have absolutely no proof that He is.   The only thing I can say is that we look back to the past at when God has been there for us.

In the Bible….

  • All kinds of stuff happened to Job.  People like to say how Job was patient or to have the patience of Job but have you read the story?  He questioned God and he complained.  He didn’t understand what was happening to him at all.
  • Joseph spent years in jail until he was remembered.  There is no record of how he acted during that time except that he did what he could do until the time came.  Sometimes that’s all we can do is to do what we know and what is available to us in our situation until the situation changes.
  • Look at Israel who spent hundreds of years in Egyptian bondage until Moses came along.  Hundreds of years is a long time to be forgotten.  
  • At the cross even Jesus felt that God had forgotten him.  Again, he still went through with what he knew and followed the will of the father even though he prayed for the cup to be passed over him.  

None of us likes to be forgotten and not many of us likes to wait for a long time.  If there’s anything I have learned about God it is that most things will take time.  Very few things are done quickly or according to our timetable.  Yep, that’s the most frustrating part.  I have always said that if I knew how long I was going to go through times of being forgotten that it would make it a little better to take.  

Even when God has forgotten us we still need to press on and do what we know to do and make the best of our situation. Just as when we are forgotten by others, we have to manage the hurt that we feel and make the choice to either get bitter or get better.  

Friday Flashback: 1998-99 NFC Championship Game

m_anderson_990117_640

This weekend, the Atlanta Falcons will play in their fourth National Football Conference (NFC) championship game in team history.  They are 1-2 in the game that determines the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

I still remember that one win.  It was 18 years ago in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the Metrodome.

The Minnesota Vikings were huge favorites.  They had the league’s best record (15-1) and had scored the most points in the regular season than any team in National Football League (NFL) history.

The Falcons were 11-point underdogs, but managed to overcome a 13-point deficit which was the largest comeback in the NFC Championship Game until the Falcons blew a 17-point lead against the San Francisco 49ers in the 2012 game.

Late in the game, the Vikings drove down the field with a 27-20 lead and set up for a field goal by their kicker, Gary Anderson.  Anderson had not missed a field goal or extra point all season.  With 2:07 left, Anderson’s 38-yard field goal was wide left which set the stage for a dramatic drive for the Falcons.  Atlanta quarterback Chris Chandler moved the Falcons down the field.  After a near-miss interception in the end zone, Chandler connected with wide receiver Terrence Mathis for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 49 seconds left.  Atlanta tied the game up 27-27.  In overtime, the teams changed possessions, then the Falcons drove from their own nine to the Minnesota 21-yard line where Atlanta kicker, Morten Andersen kicked a 38-yard field goal to send the Falcons to their first Super Bowl.

As a personal note for me, I was forced to watch the game in the conference room of my office because my ex-in-laws were visiting that weekend and were not sports fans and would not have allowed me to watch the game.  Having been a Falcons’ fan for so long,  I was not going to miss that game and went to “work” for that afternoon.  When Andersen made the game-winning field goal, I was alone and laid out on the floor.  I was totally overcome with emotions.  The unthinkable had happened.

Here are some other facts related to the game:

  • The Falcons unfortunately lost the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos, 34-19 in Miami two weeks later.
  • It was the first NFC Championship Game to go to overtime.
  • Falcons’ fans at the game claim that grounds crew opened doors to the stadium when the Falcons had the ball.
  • Noise was never a factor.  The Falcons managed the game in spite of the much credit given to the stadium noise.
  • Chandler played for the Falcons for three more seasons eventually replaced by Michael Vick in 2002.  Chandler played two more seasons before retiring.
  • Morten Andersen was with the Falcons two more seasons then bounced around to the New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings before returning to Atlanta where he finished his career in 2007.
  • Gary Anderson, who missed the key field goal, played with the Vikings for four more seasons then for the Tennessee Titans before retiring in 2004.  Anderson kicked a 46-yard field with 29 seconds remaining to give the Titans a 20-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the American Football Conference (AFC) Wild Card game in 2004.
  • The Vikings have been to two NFC title games since 1998-99, losing to the New York Giants 41-0 and New Orleans Saints 31-28.
  • The Falcons have also lost two NFC title games since 1998-99.  They lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 and San Francisco 49ers 28-24.

This weekend, the Falcons will host the Green Bay Packers in the final game played at the Georgia Dome.  The winner will advance to Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas.

Driving 101: Adjusting to Road Conditions

winter-drivingTwo weeks ago we had snow and ice on Nashville area roads.  This past week we have had rain.  The one thing that you will notice about driving – nothing changes.  People will drive the same without regard to the road conditions.  You will also look at the map and see traffic accidents lighting up the roads.  Why?  Most drivers are arrogant and think they can drive in any condition.  I have yet to see any vehicles with skis on the roads.  You can’t rely on rubber tires to make you invincible.

Does anyone really know the rules about driving in these weather conditions?

Here are some tips:

  • Slow down (yeah, you see this one showing up in any of my Driving 101 entries)
  • Turn on lights and wipers
  • Increase following distance to four seconds
  • Avoid puddles
  • Beware of misty rain even when it stop raining
  • Be prepared to handle a skid safely
  • Beware of icy patches or black ice

Skidding or hydroplaning is always possible when the roads are slick.  Here is what you are to do:

  1. Don’t slam on your brakes.  Braking triggers slides and makes it worse.
  2. Turn into the slide.  Turn your wheels in the direction the back of the vehicle is sliding.
  3. Don’t panic or overcorrect.

Above all, the main point to remember is:  SLOW DOWN.   Adjust your speed to safely match the weather conditions, road conditions, visibility and traffic flow.  Excessive driving speed in bad road conditions increase the chances for fatal crashes to 25 percent more than in normal road conditions.

When the conditions are not ideal, adjust to those conditions.  Give yourself time to stop and more time to respond to what you see ahead of you.  Assume nothing.  Arrive safely.

 

 

 

Obscure Sports News

eventimage_swarm-photo

Indoor Lacrosse:  The Georgia Swarm and Toronto Rock have started the National Lacrosse League (NLL) season undefeated.  They are both 2-0 and tied atop the Eastern Division.  The NLL opened the 2017 season with the same nine teams from last year.  The Saskatchewan Rush are the defending champions.

The NLL is an indoor version of lacrosse which is played on the same dimensions as a hockey rink.

Each team plays an 18-game schedule through April.  The top three teams in each division will make the playoffs.

Rhys Duch of the Vancouver Stealth leads the league with 10 goals.

Indoor Soccer:  The Sonora Soles of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) leads the league with a 9-1 record which is the best among the league’s 17 teams.  The other division leaders:  Tacoma (Pacific), Cedar Rapids (Central) and Baltimore (Eastern).

Franck Tayou of Sonora leads the league with 36 goals.

Women’s Hockey:  The Boston Pride are the only undefeated team in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) at this point.  They have a 9-0-0 record.  Alex Carpenter (Boston), Brianna Decker (Boston), Kelly Babstock (Connecticut) and Corinne Buie (Buffalo) are all tied with the league lead in goals with six.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content of our Character

I’m off from work today but the significance of what today means is not lost on me.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was not just a champion for Africa -Americans but for us all.  What he said in the quote above is true.  We should never judge someone or misjudge someone because of their skin color.  

Although I was born in 1964, I was raised by parents who taught me to respect everyone regardless of their skin color. It was never okay to use the “N” word or to judge someone because of their color.   I have always been a person that never notices a person’s skin color unless they made an issue of it.  Regardless of what’s on our skin, we are all still human and we all still bleed.  I think it’s terrible to witness racism in any form.  I have seen racism and I have had some who have been racist against me.  That’s sad because people refuse to know you because they can’t see that you are black or white or whatever color.  They make assumptions about you without knowing anything about you.  

I used to think race issues were behind us.  Especially when President Obama became our president but the recent trend of shootings and this past election have distorted those thoughts.   Today if you are white, it is assumed that you voted for Trump.  Assumptions without considering the content of character. 

To be honest, I have met more jerks with my skin color than any other.  I have also gained wisdom from more people not the same color as me.   You can’t just assume based on color.  Isn’t that what we all should do?   It’s sad that race has to continue to be an issue in anything.  

Let the content of your character shine past the color of your skin.  Get to know the person behind the skin.  

The Turbulent Flight Of A Falcons’ Fan


I watched the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Saturday’s National Football League (NFL) playoffs.  It was a lot of work.  It’s pretty sad when you can’t relax and feel confident that your team can hold onto a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter.  

That’s the plight of being a lifelong Falcons’ fan.  Frustration.  Disappointment.  Finding defeat in certain victory.  

The first season I really followed the Falcons was in 1977.  That was the first year of the “Gritz Blitz” and a defense that set a record at that time for only allowing 129 points during a 14-game season.  

There have certainly been some bright spots along the way.  

The biggest moment was when Morten Anderson kicked the game winning field goal against Minnesota in the 1998 National Football Conference (NFC) championship to put the Falcons in their first Super Bowl.  I was a very elated fan.  

That elation was soon turned to another disappointment when the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. 

Other disappointments that have conditioned me to be cautious over the years:

  • Dallas Cowboys 30, Atlanta Falcons 27 (1980 NFC Playoffs)
  • San Francisco 28, Atlanta Falcons 24 (2012 NFC Championship Game)
  • Green Bay Packers 48, Atlanta Falcons 21 (2010 NFC Playoffs)
  • Dallas Cowboys 20, Atlanta Falcons 17 (1978 NFC Playoffs)

So even with the victories, the Falcons have never had that “mojo” that a team needs to win consistently – especially in the playoffs.  The image of Danny White leading the Cowboys back in the 1980 playoffs is still burned into the memories of Falcon fans.  My stomach gets upset every time I see that game. 

So forgive me if this seems a little negative.  It isn’t just negativity, it has been my reality for the past 40 years. Expect disappointment but always hopeful.  

I mean, the Cubs did win the World Series so anything is possible right?

Please don’t call Matt Ryan “Marty Ice” because that will mean a pick six is going to happen.  I try not to be negative.  Really I’m not.  

When my wife asked me if I was excited about watching the Falcons’ game Saturday, I honestly answered “No” because it’s never easy.  Watching the Falcons is a lot of work.  I was physically worn out after the game. 

That’s the life of a Falcons’ fan.  

So now after a big win over the Seahawks, the Falcons will play again next week.  I don’t care about who they play.  It really doesn’t matter.  I know it’s going to be another three hours of work.