One of my first childhood Falcon memories was hearing Jeff Hullinger yell at the top of this lungs. "The Falcons are going to the Super Bowl! The Falcons are going to the Super Bowl!" he shrieked. It was surely a great time for the city of Atlanta, which hadn't had anything to cheer about football-wise in a long time.
Not to mention the city was still recovering from the brain-buckling trade of Dominique Wilkins just a few years prior. When you add the World Series that included "the year in baseball nobody cared about" (supposedly) and the only city more cursed than us (Cleveland), you have exactly what all Atlanta fans dread the most.
They had every reason to be hopeful. The Falcons of that year fielded a truly terrifying defense. That year they were #4 in scoring and #1 in turnovers. #1 in turnovers! To compare, the team that created the most turnovers this year (Texans, 34) had ten fewer turnovers caused than us in 1998.
Couple that with an offense whose quarterback may have had one of the most underrated seasons in history, and you have all the ingredients for an A-Town Meltdown. But no one was ready for what happened on...
The Night Before
I was far too young at the time to know what the heck was going on. All I remember is hearing that a Falcons player was arrested. I was only 10. What the heck did that even mean? I could discern he was in trouble, but which player was it? Was he important?
As the years passed, however, I came to learn that Eugene Robinson's actions may have been the team's undoing. But as I dove into the depths of history for this post, I came across some things that were even more disturbing.
That infamous night of Jan. 30, 1999, Atlanta safety Eugene Robinson, a man who that morning had received the Bart Starr Award for being a person of high moral character, was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer.
That morning, Elway and offensive lineman Mark Schlereth were having breakfast when a security guard told them the news.
"If I'm completely honest, I was like, 'Oh well. Looks like we won this game,' " Schlereth said. "How do you do that to your football team? "
Not only did the words "Look like we've won" come out of the opposing team's mouth, but they actually did win.
Any Falcons fan worth his or her salt knows how this game went. How could you not? The writing was on the wall for a terrible game after Eugene Robinson got caught soliciting. I won't stand on this pedestal for more than just a moment, but the fact that multiple players went out that week looking for some lovin' is sad. They play the game to win a Super Bowl and they finally get there only to go out and be irresponsible. Sad as it sounds, that's how you lose the Super Bowl.
I won't give you a complete blow-by-blow of the game. I believe the actual game is on YouTube if you really want to watch it. But I will shed some light on these facts:
The Falcons got inside Denver's 30-yard line seven times, but managed only two field goals and a touchdown. During the regular season, Atlanta scored 27 touchdowns and 14 field goals in 46 chances inside the red zone. Of the five missed chances, four were the Falcon quarterback taking a knee to end the game.
Since I've joined this blog, one of the biggest complaints was what?
Man, this stuff really is cyclical, isn't it?
I highly recommend you read the article linked above that quote. It shines some light on why the game was just downright awful. The game itself was closer than the score suggested. We did a good job of keeping it close until the decisive fourth quarter. You could argue the defense just ran out of gas at that point, right around the time the offense started to remember there was a game that day.
In all, it was a terrible situation combined with a poor effort. That, my friends, isn't Super Bowl worthy.
Share any memories (or nightmares) of the Falcons one and only Super Bowl.