Dan Quinn went into the coaches’ breakfast at the NFL owners’ meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., knowing he would field plenty of questions about the Falcons’ blown lead in Super Bowl 51. That experience hasn’t been far from Quinn’s mind, especially a day after 3-28, when people used the date to make endless jokes on the internet about the Falcons’ blown 25-point lead.
Quinn revealed that he got support from two coaches who know something about guiding their teams through excruciating choke jobs: Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and Indians skipper Terry Francona.
The Warriors started a trend when they blew a 3-1 lead
The Warriors become a meme after giving away a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s NBA Finals.
“The people who I’ve reached out to, a guy like Steve Kerr, who had called and said ‘Hey man, I recognize, we were up 3-1,’” Quinn said on Wednesday.
Kerr and Quinn’s relationship dates back to 2013. The two met through their former agent, Mike Tannenbaum, and Kerr spent time at Seattle Seahawks training camp before his first season at Golden State.
Quinn said that Kerr reached out to him to let him know he understood what Quinn was experiencing.
“Just ‘Hey man, I’m here to talk,’” Quinn said. “‘I know what that feels like. So, if you want to talk about it, give me a call.’”
The Indians blew their own 3-1 lead to the Cubs in the World Series, and Quinn spoke with Francona in Arizona, where the Indians are in the home stretch of spring training, this week.
“It was more like ‘Hey man, it’s tough, but this is what we signed up for.’” Quinn said. “As a real competitor, that’s really the attitude we can take … this is the world we live in man, embrace it.”
Pete Carroll and R.C. Buford helped Quinn, too
After the Super Bowl, Quinn talked to Spurs general manager R.C. Buford about San Antonio’s experience losing to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals and then bouncing back to beat the Heat for the title the following year.
It’s not surprising Quinn turned to his friend and mentor Pete Carroll after the Super Bowl loss, too. The two have the shared experience of Seattle’s crushing loss — also to the New England Patriots — in Super Bowl XLIX.
Part of what Quinn wanted to learn from these conversations was how each team helped players through the loss.
“I just wanted to make sure when you get a chance, whether it’s our sport or other sports, if there’s stuff to share and learn from and gain perspective on how you handle your team, how you handle your players, how you handle the relationship between owner and GM, head coach, manager … how all those pieces fit together,” Quinn said.
Quinn and the Falcons are looking forward, not back
The Falcons had the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history within reach in February, and the inexplicable refusal to run the ball in field-goal range — in the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead — was the exclamation mark on a devastating loss.
“That’s that fine line between ‘Man, that’s a gutsy call,’ and ‘that’s a bad call,’” Quinn said.
Quinn isn’t wallowing in what might have been, though. One of the things he gleaned from his conversations with Kerr and Francona is that learning to navigate a catastrophic loss just goes with the territory.
“I don’t go back too far and try to relive those moments,” Quinn said.
Quinn’s focus now is getting his team to “reset,” the way they did each week of the regular season. He’s eager to get the 2017 Falcons on the practice field.
When the Falcons get back to Flowery Branch for the team’s offseason training program next month, Quinn will rely on the wisdom he gained from other coaches to get his team ready to contend again in 2017.