If the Falcons were going to gain respect from the national media, it would have happened by now.
We recognize that the Falcons are not the most visible team, and they don't blow teams out by 30 points every week. There are sexier storylines, like the dominant Bears defense and their pouting manchild of a quarterback, or the Houston Texans and the best defensive player in football. Oh, and the Denver Broncos have Peyton Manning.
This season has seen me become unusually strident on the subject of respect. For the first few years of the Mike Smith era, I was mostly able to understand why a historically poor team with no playoff success was ignored. That understanding evaporated this year, I believe, in part because of life circumstances and in part because the freakin' Falcons were undefeated. I think it's forgivable to make a big deal out of that.
The fact that many outlets are coming around on the Falcons at last doesn't really matter. The fact that many are still stubbornly clinging to their dismissal of the Falcons doesn't really matter, either. At 8-0, the Falcons are having an amazing season. It took me eight weeks of gnashing my teeth, but I think I'm kinda done caring what anyone else says.
You're free to argue I should have come around to this view much sooner, or that it's a crusade that is still worth pursuing if you're the pitchfork and torch type. After watching the Falcons win eight games in a row and handle a very tough Cowboys team on national television, no one else's opinions matter all that much to me. This could end up being the best Falcons season of my lifetime, and it will be over in the blink of an eye.
We ought to be celebrating, not bemoaning our fate. Falcons fans are luckier than most any other team in the NFL this season, and it doesn't matter if Warren Sapp believes Atlanta's going to lose every game by a 41-0 margin. Winning fills the void.
Let's move on. Saints are up next. Think the Falcons get to 9-0?