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While the Falcons' players are saddened by Mike Smith's departure, they know it's just part of the game

Fact: Mike Smith endeared himself to his players by giving killer calf massages

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are moving on from Mike Smith, beginning a new era at Flowery Branch. It was a tough decision but one that had to be made. And to be honest, the writing has been on the wall for months. He was the Associated Press coach of the year in 2008 and led the Falcons to a 66-45 record during his tenure. He took a 56-23 record into the 2013 season, then the excrement hit the proverbial air propeller.

With two tumultuous, disappointing seasons under his belt, you'd think the players would be happy to see him go. But that apparently wasn't the case. Credit the ever-talented Vaughn McClure for the relevant quotes.

The players gave Smith a rousing ovation before he exited. 

"It was real," Lowery said. "I don't think there was a man in there that didn't feel what was going on or understand the situation [...]"

"All the players have a lot of respect for Smitty," Peters said. "I felt like I hated to see him go. And I wished we could have played better and helped him being able to stay. Everybody loved Smitty [...]"

There's something very nostalgic about this whole situation. It's a lot like getting rid of your first car; you love that thing, and you associate it with a lot of great memories, but sooner or later, that purple cobalt blue, 1996 chevy blazer probably needs to go.