As a 2016 season ticket holder, I was invited to attend the Falcons annual Season Huddle event for the upcoming season. It was held at the Cobb Galleria Energy Center on Tuesday August 30th. The event itself is little more than a rah-rah type of event, but there were some interesting takeaways nonetheless.
Wes Durham and Dave Archer - who call Falcons games on 92.9 FM in Atlanta - were the hosts for the event. Arthur Blank came out first, thanking fans for their support and expressing deep gratitude to Steve Cannon and Rich McKay for their management and oversight of the construction of the new stadium. He also expressed his gratitude to Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn for what they’ve done with the team. Blank had a funny moment where he said he wanted all fans to feel like they were “touched” when visiting the new stadium, which he quickly clarified to mean “touched emotionally.”
Cannon and McKay joined Blank on stage to discuss the stadium, noting it should be ready to open by June of 2017. They discussed the “fan friendly” pricing of concessions, which got the crowd quite excited. Steve Cannon did note that they have over 1500 workers working 15 hours per day to make sure the new stadium is finished on time. They also noted that Atlanta will be the first city to ever host the College Football Championship, the Final Four and the Super Bowl in three consecutive years once the new stadium is open. Blank also added that they are committed to the West side, and making sure it is fully connected with all of the development that is going on in and around the stadium.
Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn came out next. They spoke about key free agent signings like Mack and Sanu, and how they feel it will help improve the offense dramatically this year. There was even a quick joke about snaps being in the right place (womp womp). Dimitroff mentioned bringing Sean Weatherspoon back, which drew a very loud applause from the fans. It’s clear the fans still love Spoon. Quinn noted that he was very happy with the off-season the team had, and how well the rookies have done in particular. He also noted how humble the veterans have been, taking in the young players and mentoring them. There was a strong theme of “brotherhood” that permeated the talk. Dimitroff spoke briefly about the adjustments to the front office, including hiring former GMs to help head up scouting. Both Dimitroff and Quinn felt good about how the changes impacted the last couple of draft classes. Quinn closed out their time noting that there are still open competitions at LB, WR, OL and TE.
Out next were Matt Ryan, Alex Mack, Desmond Trufant (biggest applause by far), De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones. The players spoke about the get-together in Florida that Ryan arranged, noting the importance of getting to know each other better. Mack said he was excited about coming to Atlanta because of the offensive system and playing with a great QB. Jones and Campbell were asked about getting the calls during the draft. Jones noted he was excited to get the call and it was a dream come true. Campbell gave everyone a good laugh when he admitted he didn’t even think he was going to be drafted and was surprised to get the call.
Matt Ryan spoke briefly about his training this off-season and how he has worked hard on footwork and training to throw from different angles. There were a few more vanilla questions about looking forward to the season before the event came to a close.
- The turnout was great. The place was packed and the energy of the crowd was huge.
- Trufant was easily the most cheered of the players. It’s obvious that fans love him.
- Ryan’s reception, in contrast, was noticeably colder. There was some light booing and mumbling when he spoke. It was a bit disheartening, but not entirely unexpected.
Overall, the event was fun and it’s obvious the Falcons put a lot of money into hosting it. If you ever get the opportunity to go to one, I’d highly recommend you do.