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There's No "Bad Publicity" In T-E-A-M

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News other than Vick's legal proceedings has been somewhat scarce, so I wanted to distance myself from that a bit. Before this is over, at least once other player will pop off at the mouth in defense of dog fighting. It's likely that PETA will burn an effigy of Mike Vick. When the story's so predictable up until the verdict, what's the use in tracking it day to day. I'd rather talk about a more novel concept: the Falcons as a whole.

Lost on everyone except Len Pasquarelli (who has penned two excellent articles here and here) is that this team has made significant strides. I dislike the Harrington move and question the need for giving such a big contract to Ovie Mughelli. It hasn't been the perfect offseason by any stretch, that's true. But it's been progress and change for a team that was in desperate need of both. The Falcons are not a nationally recognized team at most times; it was usually the Vick and Mora show last year.

But this is the team we all love, and let's face it, we're all a little optimistic about this season. I'm facing the reality of rebuilding under Pet Rhino for the first year, but I still can't help but think about what could happen if Jenkins and Horn are great this year, if Jimmy Williams excels at safety, and if Norwood explodes for 1,000 yards. Every year I get furious with this team for how crappy it is. It never seems to matter how much money or how many free agents we pick up. And yet at the beginning of every preseason, I look at our less than stellar talent and off-the-field questions....and I come right back to believing. It could all go right this year. Stranger things have happened, right?

That's why it's disappointing to me that all the coverage is on Vick, and that it shows no signs of slowing. I'm as guilty of it as anyone. Writers and reporters look for the story first, and the dogfighting scandal is the biggest one out there. Lost in the shuffle year after year is what the whole team is doing, how they're improving, and the little trials and tribulations that make a team fun to follow in this age of instant gratification. So while the story right up until the start of the season is going to be our starting QB, I refuse to accept that as embodying the Falcons. This is a team with a lot of good players and a lot of room to grow, and I'm looking forward to watching them this year. I suspect that as infuriating as they often are, y'all feel the same way. After all, this isn't a team the nation or the national media are going to accept.

But this is our team.