A Falcon fan faces football futility

T. Michael Stone



This column includes links to several videos, including the entire Dallas/Falcons playoff game in 1980 for those who have very little to do.


Gloom, despair, and agony on me

Deep, dark depression, excessive misery

If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all

Gloom, despair, and agony on me

Buck Owens and Roy Clark, from the television show “Hee-Haw”


(I have uncovered nearly incontrovertible evidence that sporting events in Atlanta and Boston are being influenced by forces beyond our understanding. But we'll get to that. First I have items of a preliminary nature that I'd like to discuss.)


If you read our sports pages or listen to the Lake Oconee Sports podcast “On Any Given Friday,” you are aware that our sports editor Justin Hubbard is a Dallas Cowboys fan.

I’m not sure how the nefarious Jerry Jones managed corrupt an otherwise rational kid out of Union Point, but he did.

Maybe Jeff George refused to give Justin an autograph when he was a toddler or something,

Still, I suppose a team with eight Super Bowl appearances and five wins is more attractive to a young fellow than a team with two Super Bowl appearances and two losses, one remembered for a sex scandal and another that is being called the biggest choke in Super Bowl history.

Makes me wish I was a Cowboys fan, too.

But I was born in downtown Atlanta, and I'm stuck with my hometown's hard luck teams.

My father had so little faith in Falcons that he would change the television channel when they were ahead so he didn’t have to watch them fall behind, lose the game and leave the field disappointed.

I was just a sprout when Atlanta started to get major league teams like the Braves, Hawks and Falcons, so I immediately latched onto to all of them. Mostly misery has followed.

The Braves teased us by winning the National League’s west in 1969. A sweep at the hands of the “Amazing” Mets followed.”

They teased us again by winning the west in 1982 with Dale Murphy, who was voted the league’s MVP. 

A sweep at the hands of Lonnie Smith and the Cardinals followed. (Remember that name for a minute).

The Braves finally emerged from nearly a decade of futility in 1991, taking the Twins to a game seven in the World Series. A mistake on the base paths by that same Lonnie Smith may have cost the Braves the deciding game.

Still, our Braves became the standard against which all other baseball franchises were measured in the 1990s with three pitchers and a manager destined for the Hall of Fame.

Even Bob Costas called them the team of the 1990s when they won the 1995 World Series.

But the Braves squandered four other chances to win a series in the 1990s, losing to the Twins, Blue Jays and the Yankees twice.

Although they seem to be in complete disarray now, they have the best history of the Atlanta teams.

But in reality they haven't done all that much.

The franchise has won only three titles since 1876 (unless you count the Boston Beaneaters win over the Cleveland Spiders in 1892).

And that’s not very good.

For years I heard Red Sox fans whine about the curse.

“Oh my, how we’ve suffered since Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees,” went the refrain.

Red Sox fans endured 86 years between titles, but they did play in the fall classic four times (1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986).

Red Sox fans endured 28 years between post seasons from 1918 until 1946, but the Braves actually had a longer drought of 34 years between post seasons from 1914 to 1948. They also had another drought of 32 years between post-season wins between 1959 and 1991.

Nobody much cares that the Red Sox won five titles between 1903 and 1918, but they did. They have also won three since 2004. I guess the curse is over now, eh.

But like I said the Braves have only won three in the entire history of the franchise, one of those when the team played in Boston, so it’s hard to claim that one.

While we’re talking about Boston, lets compare the Hawks to the Celtics.

The Celtics have won 17 NBA titles; the Hawks have one title and that when the team played in St. Louis.

We shouldn’t even bring up hockey since Atlanta can’t keep a team.

But let's be thorough in our misery. The Boston Bruins have won 25 division titles and six Stanley Cups.

Neither of Atlanta’s two NHL franchises ever won a post-season game.

Which brings us back to football and the Cowboys and Tom Brady and more misery piled on top of misery.

My Falcons made the playoffs for the first time in 1978, and lost to Justin’s stinking Cowboys.

They returned in 1980 and lost a game they should have won to Justin’s stinking Cowboys, who scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to come back and win (sounds eerily familiar doesn't it).  

I was dating a girl from Dallas who loved the Cowboys at the time, and she called me right after the game.

"I can't talk to you right now," I said. Danny White may have been instrumental in the souring of that relationship. Who knows?

The Falcons somehow defeated Minnesota to make it to Super Bowl XXIII, but I refuse to discuss that grease fire.

It's probably not fair to blame it all on Eugene Robinson, but why not.

The Falcons came close again in the Michael Vick era, but lost to the Eagles in the NFC title game. The Eagles then lost to the Patriots.

The Falcons built a 17-0 lead in the NFC title game played on Jan. 20, 2013, but the San Francisco 49ers overcame the deficit (which turned out to be the biggest comeback or the biggest choke job in NFC title game history depending upon your point of view) and beat the Falcons 28-24. 

Sure, the Falcons have had some decent seasons, but the team did go 43 years without posting back-to-back winning records.

So, it's not surprising that the Falcons have winning records against only six teams: Bills, Panthers, Chargers, Saints, Giants and Jets. The Falcons have lost to the Rams 47 times while winning just 28. They have lost 14 of 16 to the Colts.

And last year, the team seemed near an apotheosis of sorts with a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl 51.

I'm not going to discuss that game further. Still too painful.

But with a big lead like that a lot of Falcons fans were optimistic.

I wasn’t. In fact I wound up turning off the television like my father used to do after Donta Hightower sacked Matt Ryan and caused a fumble in the fourth quarter. The other shoe was about to drop yet again.

My son sent me a text about how much he hated Tom Brady, and I knew the Falcons had lost yet again, giving Boston another title to boast about (a total of 36 in the four major American sports compared to our total of one).

What did we get out a solid performance for three quarters?

“Biggest choke job in history.”

It just ain’t fair, Tom. It just ain’t fair.

It's not fair, and there is also something unnatural about it. 

In desperation, I took a peak at the University of Georgia's record against Harvard and Boston College.

The Bulldogs have only played Harvard once, way back in 1921, and lost 10-7

The Bulldogs have played Boston College four times, but they haven't beaten them since 1951.

Even the mighty Bulldogs are cursed.

Well, at least we have Evander, I thought after finding that bit of trivia.

But that provided little comfort when I learned that Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler and John L. Sullivan were all from the Boston suburbs. Holyfield defeated John Ruiz, who is from Muethen, Mass. (about 30 miles north of Boston), but he also lost to him and fought to a draw in the third fight.

All this left me wondering how such a disparity could exist between two cities, how one municipality could have such good fortune while the other founders in the backwash of nearly every endeavor (borrowing part of quote there from John F. Kennedy who was born in Brookline, Mass.).

How come rabid Red Sox fan Stephen King decides to partner up with Tom Verducci to write a baseball book called "Faithful" about the Red Sox and the Red Sox miraculously win a World Series for the first time in 86 years as they are writing it. That doesn't sound like a coincidence to me.

Mr. King's profession brings him far to close to dark and sinister forces for my comfort. 

And its worth noting that Edgar Allan Poe was also from Boston. 

So 36 titles to one may not be an accident, but the result of occult forces influencing the outcomes of games.

It's as good an excuse as any.  


Addendum: Shortly after this column appeared on our website, the roof at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium started to leak. Another coincidence? Or dark forces sending a message?



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