Countdown to Super Bowl 50: Elway downs the Dirty Birds

I am excited to share this piece today, Wayniacs. Most of you recognize Nomi the Greek from The Thread’s annual Super Bowl prediction special. Today, he makes his debut with his first piece for Wayniac Nation.

You may also recognize Nomi the Greek as one of the only Falcon fans from start to finish of every home game, and the many TV appearances he’s made while he traveled to away games. I have yet to meet a bigger Falcons fan (with Saucy T 1B to Nomi’s 1A), and that’s why I thought it was perfect that he share our next Super Bowl memory.

So sit back and relive Super Bowl XXXIII through the eyes of an Atlanta Falcons Super Fan.

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Born and bred in Atlanta, I will always be a die-hard Atlanta sports fan. I know, it probably sounds awful to most of the Wayniac Nation readers but that is not what this article is about.

One of the best days of my sports life occurred on January 17, 1999, but I’ll get back to that day shortly. The Falcons came into that  1998 season with some of the most unassuming names on their football team, names like Chris Chandler, Jamal Anderson, O.J. Santiago, Chuck Smith and Ray Buchanan amongst many others. No one expected much coming off a 7-9 season the year before but these guys and this set of circumstances were different.

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The city didn’t really start to take notice of the Falcons until they went into Foxboro and dismantled the Patriots 41-10 to make them 7-2 on the season. They then followed that victory up with another versus the division rival San Francisco 49ers. Everyone was on board at this point. They finished the regular season with the No. 2 seed and a 14-2 record.

Now we go back to January 17, 1999. For me, the day started as most Sundays back then did. I went to church with my cousins, John and Nick the Greek. John did something to get in trouble. That was par for the course back then and he wasn’t able to watch the game with Nick and I.

We were in my living room watching the game. The Vikings were a HEAVY favorite in the game. After being perfect all season long, Gary Anderson missed a 38-yard field goal and a few minutes later, we were headed to the Super Bowl! I remember Nick and I yelling and screaming and jumping on the couch as our winning field goal split the uprights. I remember my mom coming in and yelling at me for jumping on her couch. I didn’t care. “Mom! We’re going to the Super Bowl!! YEAHHHHHHHHH!!!”

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(sidenote from The Wayniac: This ’98 season was my first of my Nitro Fantasy Football League. Gary Anderson would score so many points, we jokingly named him Nitro League MVP. Little did we know a few weeks later he would become the Atlanta Falcons MVP)

I was in my senior year of high school. The next two weeks were two of the longest weeks of my life. Being a self-proclaimed sports nerd, I spent it watching SportsCenter (back when ESPN was good — now they are worthless) hoping to hear anything about the Super Bowl matchup. I was reading newspaper articles in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about how we were going to beat Denver and send John Elway home with a loss for his final game. There was no way we were going to lose. It wasn’t happening.

Media day came that Tuesday during Super Bowl week. I remember racing home from the bus stop to catch the end of it (unfortunately, there was no such thing as TiVo or DVR back then). I loved what I was hearing. Ray Buchanan guaranteed a victory and he said Shannon Sharpe looked like Mr. Ed, the TV horse. I thought to myself, “Holy Cow! He’s right! That guy does look like Mr. Ed! I can’t believe I’ve never noticed it.” My friends at school and I laughed about it the rest of the week.

Finally! Super Bowl Sunday had arrived! Again, like any other Sunday, it started by going to church with my cousins. I remember getting out of church and finding out our Pro Bowl safety, Eugene Robinson, had been arrested the night before for soliciting a prostitute. My first thoughts were “Why was he not in his hotel room asleep?” and “Why is this guy focused on paying for sex instead of winning a Super Bowl?” This guy had — the day before — received the Bart Starr Award after all! You know what the Bart Starr Award is awarded for? This is straight from the award website:

“The Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award was created to honor the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.”

Are you serious? You celebrate receiving this award by getting a hooker?!?! Not by making a charitable donation or by talking to your children about what it takes to win this award? You celebrate with a hooker. What a joke!

My cousins and I went to a church youth group Super Bowl party that night. It was a total butt kicking from the beginning and not in our favor. The brightest spot came in the 2nd half when Tim Dwight returned a kickoff for a touchdown. That made the score look a bit more respectable rather than a complete dismantling… but I know that it was a complete dismantling.

Instead of watching my Falcons win their first Super Bowl, I got to watch John Elway march off the field with his second Super Bowl in as many years, Ray Buchanan eat his words and Eugene Robinson get abused on the football field like he was one of Warren Sapp’s hookers.

Since that season, we have gotten to two NFC Championship Games but lost both. I even attended the last one where we had a 17-0 lead and blew it.

Oh, the life of an Atlanta Sports fan.

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