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The Falcons would like fans to make more noise Thursday night against the Saints

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If they’re saying it out loud, though, you know it’s bothering them more than their gentle requests would suggest.

Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

One of the most persistent complaint about Falcons fans, one that has morphed into a punchline for rivals, is that they don’t show up and they don’t make enough noise. That’s only intermittently true, I’d say, but the controversy over quiet and absentee fans has only intensified since Atlanta moved into Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

First Grady Jarrett asked fans to be loud and in their seats for Thursday Night Football against the Saints, and then Dan Quinn diplomatically said more or less the same thing in response to a question pitched to him by reporters today.

If we may be blunt, this isn’t coming out of nowhere. It is noticeable on broadcasts how many empty seats dot the stadium at any given time, how loudly the cheers for opponents can be, and how muted the reaction to big plays from the Falcons often is. That’s not universal and it hasn’t been the case for every game, but it has happened enough that it has been noticeable to the team itself, which I think speaks volumes. I’m not mad at Dan Quinn or Grady Jarrett for voicing it, especially in this exceedingly mild way.

But still. You pretty quickly get stuck in one of those nightmarish arguments about what it means to be a fan, what fans are actually obligated to do at games, and how much a team has a right to ask from you once you’ve shelled out the requisite cash to attend a game. We also don’t, I think, fully understand why this is happening, besides the fact that some diehards have inevitably been priced out and the new stadium has a lot of shiny amenities that encourage people to wander.

I don’t claim to know how big this problem really is for the Falcons and what’s driving it, but I do know this: I’d like to see a lot of booing for the Saints Thursday night. It just feels right.