For a moment there, I was really angry.
My brain was a keg of gunpowder, while the words I saw printed in the Boston Globe appeared as a lit match.
Fortunately, I’ve been talked out of my fiery pique by a most unusual source.
There I was, still dizzy with excitement over the Atlanta Falcons’ historic win in the final game at the Georgia Dome. A team once considered irrelevant was steamrolling to the Super Bowl, football’s biggest stage. A town once so hapless that Sports Illustrated called us “Loserville” was one step from the ultimate in football triumph. Falcons fans, so maligned over the the last fifty years, would be mocked no more.
Then comes Dan Shaughnessy to lower his zipper and rain on our parade.
Mr. Shaughnessy, whose coif looks more like a labradoodle rescue than a hair style, writes for the Boston Globe. In his column of January 23, he offered pity to me and anyone else silly enough to invest our hearts and souls in the Atlanta Falcons. That’s right. He pities us. He opined that it is beneath his hometown New England Patriots to play the Falcons in the Super Bowl because, well, playing Atlanta is boring. We have no sports history. We have no passion for our professional sports teams. It would be more fitting for the Patriots to play a team seeped in football lore, like the Packers or Giants. He mentioned Boston’s “embarrassment of riches” when it comes to sports titles. In Mr. Shaughnessy’s curly gray head, Boston is Henry the Eighth, and we are his headless brides.
By the way, why are they the New England Patriots? We aren’t the Southeastern Falcons. I digress.
There are a few things Mr. Shaughnessy doesn’t understand.
He seemed flummoxed that on a weekend when the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics were facing off in the NBA playoffs, the state was focused on the University of Georgia’s spring football game. College football is king here, and throughout the south. That is a fact. For whatever reason, southerners identify more with their college sports teams than the athletes who are paid. I don’t think we need to be ashamed of that. After all, the Georgia Bulldogs alone have won 29 national championships in a variety of sports. That’s something to crow about.
And our passion does bleed over to professional sports.
He concludes that our “apathy” over our professional sports teams derives from our lack of success. While it’s true that we hardcore Atlanta devotees are far outnumbered by our friends who’ve migrated here from other great cities, we are hardly apathetic. In fact, it’s the lack of championships that makes us viciously hungry. We are a wolf chained for decades to a tree, our nose less than an inch from a juicy steak. Perhaps, Mr. Shaughnessy, you watched our stunning, decisive victory over the storied Packers on your cell phone with no volume. It didn’t give you a very good view of the sold out Georgia Dome, which was an atomic bomb of enthusiasm.
My furor over Shaughnessy’s column cooled considerably when a few friends living New England reached out to assure me the Boston Globe scribe does not speak for all Patriot fans. One conceded that Atlanta is “due for a championship”, while another says the Patriot faithful “doesn’t disrespect the Falcons, and clearly the two best teams are in the Super Bowl.”
So, when Shaughnessy uses the word “we” while claiming that Patriot Fans “feel nothing” about a game with the Falcons, he must be referring to himself and his kinky white locks.
Look, I have nothing against Boston, and I most certainly feel no anger toward the fans of perhaps the most successful football franchise in history. The Patriots and their fans have my upmost respect. Boston is an amazing town, filled with history, and can now take pride in the fact that it helped produce one of professional football’s best quarterbacks. For it was on the campus of Boston College that Matty Ice honed his skills, preparing for his days as an Atlanta Falcon.
Thank you, Boston, for giving us Matt Ryan, the man who just might make Dan Shaughnessy eat his words.