Rise Up: One More Time
When it comes to sports, you can generally expect the status quo to remain in tact.  The best teams and best players will excel, win championships, etc.  However, every now and then a changing of the guard happens and a new phase of history begins.  That’s the beauty of sports. Every year is a brand new opportunity to write a different chapter and if you are lucky enough to write new chapters in multiple years, you create a legacy.
In my 28 year lifetime, I’ve seen Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Kobe and the Lakers, now Lebron and whichever team he plays for.  I’ve seen the 49ers, Cowboys, and most recently the Patriots.  In baseball, it was the Yankees and the Braves.  Over time you see legends build their legacy and you see the legends fade from relevancy.  However it happens, it always does.  The greats can’t be great forever, only their legacies can, and 2016 was the greatest example of the status quo being broken.
In the major sports, not named NASCAR, we saw an unbelievable unsettling of the guard, even if only for a brief moment.  Starting with NCAA Basketball, we saw a perennial powerhouse and storied “Franchise” UNC lose in the final seconds to see Villanova emerge as NCAA champions for only the 2nd time in history.  Leicester City won one of the most improbable runs to clinch the Premier League title.  The city of Cleveland won it’s 1st title in the current professional climate.   The freakin’ Cubs won the World Series for the first time in practically every person on earth’s lifetime!  Lastly, ending in everyone seeing Nick Saban and perennial powerhouse Alabama actually lose a championship game.
Not only were these stories great they all came down the wire.  Villanova won one of the best championship games with a shot at the buzzer.  Leicester City had to grind out ties and 1 goal victories to clinch.  The Cavaliers and Cubs both went to game 7!  Clemson won with a game winning touchdown drive.  2016 was unbelievable for sports, because the status quo wants so badly to be maintained that you have to grit and grind and fight just to have a chance to change it.
That leaves us with unfinished business.  Your calender may read 2017, but this NFL Super Bowl champion will belong to the season of 2016.   I remember the 2012 Falcon season.   I was convinced it was our year, only to watch it crumble in the 2nd half of the NFC championship game.  Following that season was a tumultuous downturn for our franchise, but we didn’t give up.  We kept grinding it out, in the front office, with our personnel and player development, and in wins.
We went from 13-3 and NFC front runners to grinding out 4-12, 6-10, and 8-8 seasons.  Preseason, going off the numbers, 10-6 and a playoff appearance seemed an appropriate trajectory for our team, but we weren’t satisfied there.   These Falcons are different than any Falcons team I’ve ever seen before.  Matt Ryan, NFL MVP, puts his head down and runs for first downs. 4 rookies fly around the field unknowing their significance on our defense.  Players drafted and undrafted in the past have made huge strides forward in their level of play.  They scratch and claw in playcalling and in determination.  These Falcons are hungry!

To finish the amazing 2016 sports season off right, the Atlanta Falcons have had to grit and grind for years and months just to get to this point to face off against the best Coach and QB tandem to have ever played the game. It isn’t going to be easy. There will be touchdowns scored, field goals kicked, but one play at a time we can grind. We can succeed. We can rise to the occasion and make the impossible happen. The city of Atlanta has 1 championship and the Falcons have 0.  History tells us the Status Quo will remain with New England, but this is our time.  Our City.  The time is now and the story isn’t written yet.  So for one last time, Let’s RISE UP!   And let’s take what is ours.  Super Bowl 51, Let’s Go!

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