Hello. You’re probably here because your team was one of the 30 unfortunate franchises that didn’t make the Super Bowl (been there before) or you just hate the Patriots so much that you need to take on the other franchise in this Super Bowl.
It just so happens that team is the Atlanta Falcons this season.
So, here you are, trying to look like a legitimate Atlanta Falcons fan for whatever reason that may be. Fear not, by the time you finish reading this — no matter where you are from or what team you typically rep — you will come across as a real-ass Atlanta Falcons fan.
Players you need to know
Introducing the entire team would be way too long and unnecessary, so here’s some extremely basic info about the players you’ll hear from the most on Sunday.
There’s no better place to start than quarterback Matt Ryan, aka “Matty Ice.” There’s a vocal contingent of fans who have just about despised him up until this season, but he’s put it all together and gotten help from the rest of the offense. Now, Ryan appears to have built the strongest case to win the NFL MVP award.
His best target is Julio Jones. If you find yourself on Twitter during the game and Jones happens to make a big play, simply tweet “JULIOOOOOOOOOOOOO” and you’ll fit right in.
JULIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO— Harry Lyles Jr. (@harrylylesjr) January 22, 2017
Fans have also adopted the same with Mohamed Sanu, by tweeting “SANUUUUUUUUUUU” give or take some o’s and u’s in each, of course.
In the backfield, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are responsible for making opposing defenses put their hands on their hips or knees in exhaustion, desperately trying to get every last breath of air that they can.
Defensively, know Vic Beasley, the NFL’s regular season leader in sacks. And don’t forget the vet, Dwight Freeney, and young defensive backs Keanu Neal and Robert Alford.
This team also loves its ping pong, and SB Nation’s own Jeanna Thomas is your insider for all things there.
Matt Ryan just used his hand as a ping pong paddle. Good awareness, savvy veteran move— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) December 2, 2016
He’s not a player, but you should also know about head coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons have gone through plenty of coaches in the past, but Quinn is a proven winner in the past with the Seahawks, and has brought that same feeling to Atlanta.
Know the Falcons’ struggle
The Falcons haven’t had a lot of nice things in the past. They have the third-worst winning percentage of all 32 NFL franchises in history, with an all-time record of 341-437-6. Only the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are worse. Within that losing record are plenty of single moments that had — and still have — fans shaking their heads in disbelief.
A “BRIEF” RUNDOWN:
- Dave Hampton becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher in team history, then losing it on the next play
- Losing Michael Vick after he went to prison for dog fighting
- Watching Bobby Petrino leave — for Arkansas — with the quickness
- Jim Mora said he'd take the University of Washington head coaching job over the Falcons job "even if they were in the playoffs”
- Scoring 2 points in a playoff game against the Giants
- Blowing a 17-point lead in the 2012 NFC Championship to the 49ers
- Losing on a pick-two to the Chiefs
- Eugene Robinson getting arrested the night before Super Bowl XXXIII after trying to solicit a prostitute who was actually an undercover cop
- The Tomahawk Chop (a Braves rallying cheer) broke out in a home game in 1991, which seemed cool ... until they lost.
- Trading away a young Brett Favre, even though he wasn’t all that great in Atlanta. It was still Brett Favre.
- Wade Traynham whiffed on the opening kickoff in the team’s second game in 1966
- The 15 years between those big playoff games vs. Dallas and Dan Reeves getting hired, the Falcons were 79-147-1, a .350 winning percentage
- When Deion Sanders returned to the Georgia Dome after playing five seasons with the team and stared down the entire sideline while running back a pick-six
- The “Gritz Blitz” defense. We invented a pressure and named it after FOOD
- Picking Aundray Bruce No. 1 overall in 1988. He played 34 games for the Falcons.
- The 2012 draft class
- Noisegate (we don’t give a shit)
- Jamal Anderson’s ACLs
Other items to note
- #RISEUP. The Falcons’ mantra was adopted in 2010, and while it initially wasn’t received well when the Falcons weren’t exactly doing too much winning. Now, we’ve pretty much just accepted it for what it is at this point.
This “Rise Up” video is wonderfully soulful, and something that we can all agree is good:
Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t play games when the Falcons are on, either:
O MUTHAPHUKKYN K!! Finally, some Grown Man Football! Rise Da Fuck Up!!!!— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) September 20, 2015
- The 1991 Back in Black Falcons, where the team went back to their black uniforms for their 25th anniversary.
- The Falcons ran an option offense for three years, with the No. 1 rushing offense, and no one noticed. They said Mike Shanahan invented the option a decade later.
- Until 1998, our greatest head coach was a crazy person who awarded himself trophies and gave tickets to invisible Elvis. (Hey, Jerry Glanville)
- The Falcons' first owner, Rankin Smith, once got drunk and grounded his yacht, "Pocket Change,” on a reef in the Bahamas
They’ve had a handful of notable players in franchise history
Steve Bartkowski: Bartkowski, who played for 10 years with the Falcons, is the only quarterback in the team’s ring of honor.
William Andrews: Andrews was one of the best running backs in the NFL during his time with the Falcons from 1979-83. He suffered a knee injury that kept him out for two seasons, before coming back as a tight end in 1986 for one season.
Jeff Van Note: Van Note played center, and was a five-time Pro Bowler in Atlanta, where he spent his entire career from 1969-86.
Tommy Nobis: The first player ever drafted by the Falcons in 1966. He was also the first Falcons player to be voted to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. He is Mr. Falcon.
Deion Sanders: Primetime! He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Falcons, while also playing for the Atlanta Braves. He even played in the 1992 World Series.
Jessie Tuggle: He’s one of the greatest players in franchise history. “The Hammer” was a fierce linebacker that was a fan favorite for over a decade.
Claude Humphrey: Humphrey was a first-round pick by the Falcons in 1968. Another early Falcons legend, he finished his career as the all-time sack leader in franchise history. He’s also a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Others to know:
Terence Mathis, Bob Whitfield, Bob Christian, T.J. Duckett, Warrick Dunn, Ray Buchanan, Jamal Anderson, Chris Chandler, Keith Brooking, Tony Gonzalez, Alge Crumpler
Rivals of the Atlanta Falcons
3. Bobby Petrino’s team
7. Matty B Raps
8. Bobby Petrino
9. DeAngelo Hall
10. Joe Horn
11. Drew Brees
Musical interests can be used to weed out fakes
Listen, if you haven’t paid attention to anything before this, you need to be on top of this if you’re really trying to sell your “fandom.”
The city of Atlanta does not play when it comes to our music. In particular, the hip-hop scene is something that we hold near and dear to our hearts. I won’t list everything because we’d be here all day. Instead, here’s a brief (and incomplete) list.
Outkast: This is the perfect starting point for anybody trying to fake the funk. Outkast is one part of the Atlanta hip hop scene that nobody can argue against. Andre 3000 and Big Boi combined for one of the greatest duos hip hop has ever seen.
Jeezy: Jeezy probably doesn’t get as much love as he deserves. He’s got so many classics like Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 and The Recession that we won’t list them all. But know Jeezy the Snowman.
Ludacris: Luda is a graduate of Georgia State (where tuition is handled by the dean of students office), and along with Jermaine Dupri, made arguably the Atlanta anthem: “Welcome to Atlanta” which should absolutely play inside any airplane that touches down at Hartsfield-Jackson. But that’s another conversation.
T.I.: He’s got a discography that’s almost as vast as his vocabulary. Also, Michael Vick was in the “Rubberband Man” video. Rise up.
Gucci Mane: You can’t say enough good things about Gucci. Just grab a glass of lemonade and kick back and listen to The State vs. Radric Davis.
Crime Mob: Just know and respect “Knuck if you Buck” and pretend like JuJu on that Beat never happened.
Future: Being proficient in his newer material will suffice. You won’t be on the bandwagon too long, but you should be listening to Future if you aren’t anyway.
Migos: They’re arguably the hottest on this list with their new album Culture that came out featuring “Bad and Boujee.” On their song “T-shirt” from Culture the beat is from Dem Franchize Boyz’s “White Tee” just slowed down. Freakin’ geniuses.
Rae Sremmurd: That mannequin challenge that flooded your timeline for a month? That was them. But they make more dope music than just “Black Beatles.” Their name is also “ear drummers” backwards.
Miscellaneous tidbits about Atlanta
- The Varsity actually isn’t that great, and we leave it to tourists
- We love Waffle House, and you better not slander it
- There’s OTP (outside of the perimeter) Atlantans, and ITP (inside the Perimeter) Atlantans
- Regardless, anybody in the suburbs 45 minutes to an hour from downtown will tell you they’re from Atlanta
- If Georgia didn’t have Atlanta, it would be Mississippi
- Not all Atlantans drive trucks: some have Dodge Chargers, while others drive Tahoes
- Sweet tea
- Chick-fil-A is now as common as McDonald’s are everywhere else and we live by it
- Almost everybody in and around Atlanta has an ATV, including former Braves great Chipper Jones, who used his to rescue Freddie Freeman during a rare snowstorm
That’s a fairly brief and sufficient rundown of what you’ll need if you’re trying to prove your “Falcons fandom” at your Patriots-fan cousin that you hate’s Super Bowl party or whatever the case may be.
Enjoy the ride.