I was listening to The Ringer‘s The Bill Simmons Podcast with his guest, die hard Atlanta fan Rembert Browne, last week, and the two had a hard time coming up with any real defining sports memory for Atlanta in the last 20 years. It made me sad. I’m not even a fan of Atlanta – the teams or the city, though I like the TV show. Not that I don’t like the teams or the city, they just don’t really register with me. And I guess that’s kind of the point. Atlanta is a major metropolitan city in the United States of America, and most people would forget to put it on the list of top ten media markets (it’s number 9). Sunday, their football team has a chance to finally step up.
It’s probably not fair to put the fate of a city’s reputation on the professional football team, but we do it. Plus, this is my column and I’ll judge cities in any way I choose. How do you think about Cleveland, after all? Or at least, how DID you (though, you probably still feel the lovable loser thing, right?)? That being said, Atlanta has been on the precipice before. They were supposed to dominate Major League Baseball in the ’90s, but instead turned in the dynasty that wasn’t. The Braves went ahead and got themselves one world championship, the year after the strike that got everybody to stop paying attention to baseball. Around that time, they had Deion Sanders playing two sports in the city – NEON Deion, for chrissakes! Maybe kids today don’t know, but that was about the biggest deal. Yet, that didn’t last long either, and Atlanta slowly faded back into being the part of that trivia question that Americans couldn’t quite get off the tip of their tongue.
They made Super Bowl 33 (you’re welcome, non-Romans, for the regular numerals). But, who even remembers that mostly nondescript game. I remember it – I was a huge John Elway fan, and nailing down two in a row was awesome. But I’ll forgive you if you don’t remember Chris Chandler et al. And now, they are back, a mere 19 years later, with the chance the whole city should be waiting for. The chance to take down the winningest sports city1 of the young century. They should relish the idea. There should be no other team that they wanted to face.
Yet, the public outside of Atlanta doesn’t seem to have much faith, if gambling lines are used to gauge – which they are. I don’t think they’ve seen much of the Falcons this season. In a vacuum, with no history, the Falcons are decided favorites. But, this isn’t a vacuum, and there is history, and it is on the Patriots side.
Before the season started, Huey was in Las Vegas. I asked him to put $100 on the Pats to win the Super Bowl, and because he knows how much I hate them, and he didn’t want to see me rooting for them, he said “no.” So, now, in service to my Patriot-hate, and so I don’t badger Huey for the $1100 I should have won, it’s time for Atlanta to step up, as a football team, and a city, and shine on the biggest stage we have in America, Super Bowl Sunday. Or, as many others might recognize it, at the Lady Gaga concert this weekend.