From Falcons to Titans: One Fan’s Transition

Falcons-TitansFor most of my life my favorite NFL team was the Atlanta Falcons.  I think you can clearly pick out the key word in that last sentence.

Since moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 2014, I have slowly transitioned to having my allegiance changed to the Tennessee Titans.  My allegiance was confirmed yesterday while I was watching the Titans-Falcons game yesterday.  I could sense I was pulling for the Titans.

The Falcons have been a disappointment.  I think the final straw was the historic collapse in Super Bowl LI when the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to lose to the New England Patriots.  I sensed my loyalties making the shift after that game.

There were some good moments – but there were many disappointments.  Before the stunning failure in the Super Bowl, the lingering pain was from the 1980 NFC Divisional Playoff game when the Falcons folded against the Dallas Cowboys.  Unlike SOME fans, I was never a “fair weather” fan.  With the Falcons you couldn’t be one of those because there wasn’t much “fair weather” to enjoy anyway.  There were many lean years but I hung in there with them.

There were a few happy moments such as the 1998 NFC Championship Game when the Falcons stunned the heavily-favored Minnesota Vikings for their first trip to the Super Bowl.  I watched the game from the conference room at the office where I worked because my former in-laws were visiting that weekend and they did not want to watch a football game so I decided that I needed to “work” that day.   When Morten Anderson kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime to win the game, I was laid out in the floor overcome with emotions.

Another highlight that stands out in my memory was in a game between the Falcons and New Orleans Saints.  It was in 1978 and the Falcons were down 17-13 with 19 seconds left in the game.  Falcons’ quarterback Steve Bartkowski aired what they call a “Hail Mary pass” down to the end zone.  The ball was tipped by Falcons receiver Wallace Francis into the hands of his teammate Alfred Jackson to give the Falcons a 20-17 victory.  That win propelled the Falcons to their first playoff appearance.

I even wrote to the Falcons years ago asking them to please change their logo from that of the Falcon with its wings in a down swing motion.  I thought that image set the tone for negativity.  They eventually did alter the logo slightly a few years ago but I’m sure it had nothing to do with my suggestion.

So, now I have transitioned to the Tennessee Titans.  Some would say it’s not much better.  Probably not.  The Titans have not been the model of consistency in recent years.  They have a record of 34-50 since I have lived here and one playoff win.  I needed a change.

I do still cheer for the Falcons when they are playing anyone else but it is no longer a dilemma when they play the Titans.

Yeah, I could probably do like most do and cheer for the Cowboys or Patriots.  It’s always funny to see the Cowboy “fans” come out when the team is playing well as if they had always been a fan of the team.  It’s easy to be a fan when a team is winning.  It’s even tolerable when they have bad seasons but it’s agonizing when they are losers more than they are winners.

It’s a game.  That’s all it is anyway.  It isn’t going to matter which team I support.

 

 

 

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Smashed-ville

After 95 games the season is over. Nashville’s Game 7 loss to the Winnipeg Jets ended a season of high expectations for the Predators who came within two games last year of winning the National Hockey League’s ultimate prize.

Yes, I know they won the President’s Trophy for having the best regular season in the NHL this season but you aren’t going to see anyone skating around with that one in the air or chanting that “We’re Regular Season Champs”. Do we at least get a plate or a saucer since we didn’t win the Cup?

Bottom line. This really stinks. I won’t lie about it.

Anyone that knows me knows I am not a bandwagon fan. Heck, I have been an Atlanta Falcons’ fan forever. That alone should tell you something about my allegiance to my teams and my familiarity with being disappointed.

To me, the season means nothing without the championship. It really sticks me that the Predators got the home ice advantage and blew it. It was nothing special playing at home. That just boggles my mind. I don’t care what celebrity you ushered in their to sing the National Anthem or how many of those stupid catfish fans throw on the ice to redneck things up.

There is a lot of blame to go around for this colossal collapse to the expectations for this team.

Pekka Rinne said that he let the whole team down. I’m not going to sugar coat it – he’s right. But he’s not the only one. The defense had breakdowns at the most crucial times throughout the season. P.K. Subban was another source of frustration. Mike Fisher came out of retirement for what? Kyle Turris never turned into the offensive giant he had been in Ottawa. A total bust for getting pucks in the net. And what happened with Kevin Fiala? Sure, he got the overtime game winner in the only home win in the series but we needed him to be a goal scorer which he really didn’t become.

Yes, I have stewed on this for the past two days.

Something needs to be done about the goalkeeping. I know everyone loves Rinne and I want him to do well too but it’s time to change. Mike Fisher should go back to retirement. Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala should be traded. Eelin Tolvanen needs to be in the lineup. I really don’t know what to do with P.K. Subban.

The Predators won’t win the Cup with this team. I watched every game and I’m telling you that they never made it easy. It is bad when your team has a 3-0 lead and you know it won’t be enough.

Maybe at some point I will appreciate this past season. It is going to take me a while. I can tell you that I’m nowhere close yet.

Yes I’m mad and pissed off about it.

I know those fans who like to live in La-La Land and refuse to listen to anything negative about their team. I’m sorry to to bring them back into reality but there is a lot of negative here to deal with but that doesn’t mean I won’t “Stand with Us” or any of that other rah rah stuff.

I don’t care who wins the Cup now. I’m not one of those fans who roots for the team that eliminated us because of some twisted allegiance in thinking that because the Winnipeg Jets beat us that if they win the Cup it will mean they had to beat us to do it. That’s stupid. I want Winnipeg to get blown away. I want them to feel the pain of getting so close and not win it.

My wife made some very sharp observations about the Predators in this years’ playoffs. She didn’t think they were trying and that something was just off with them. I think she was right. The Predators weren’t having fun like they were last year when no one expected them to do what they did. They were not able to handle the weight of the expectations.

This one hurt. It’s going to take me a while to recover. Yeah, I know it’s just sports but I can’t convince the bitter feeling in the pit of my stomach right now.

I am all too familiar with my teams losing. I’m used to it. Remember I said I have been a Falcons fan? The pain of disappointment is nothing new but you never get good at dealing with it.

I am smashed.

The Agony of Defeat

I didn’t play a single play or coach in the game yet I sit here an hour after listening to my team lose the state championship game. It wasn’t even close.

I’m very familiar with this hollow feeling having experienced this same feeling in June when the Nashville Predators lost the Stanley Cup and before that in February when the Atlanta Falcons collapsed in the Super Bowl. That one nearly ended my sports life.

I will be okay tomorrow. I will move on. Right now it stinks.

Yes, my football team had an amazing season. If you had told me they would even be playing in the state championship game I wouldn’t have believed you. It was a good season. I will appreciate that more later but I’m not so much into reflection right now.

Life will go on. It’s just sports right? Why do I get so caught up in it? I don’t know. That’s just how I am. It’s the roller coaster ride I live.

None of this really matters in the grand scheme of things of my life. My life is not changed by it even if my team had won. So, I need to shake it off and finish my Christmas shopping.

I won’t have much time to recover from my sports blues with Georgia playing in the college football playoff, watching to see how the Titans finish the NFL season as well as a peek or two at how the Falcons finish. I’m inviting more misery aren’t I?

I need to write another football book with a happy ending. It seems fiction is the only way I’m going to experience the thrill of victory anytime soon on my sports rollercoaster.

Weeeeeeeeeeee!