Date: March 8, 2017
Location: Flowery Branch, Georgia; Atlanta Falcons Outdoor Practice Facility
Falcons new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian walks alongside Falcons’ offensive unrestricted free agents (Matt Schaub, Jacob Tamme, Levine Toilolo, Aldrick Robinson, Chris Chester, and Tom Compton) from the team headquarters to the practice field.
STEVE SARKISIAN: “Guys, I’m thrilled that you’re all about to re-sign in Atlanta. I hear that your agents are in the team facility meeting with the front office folks. So by the time free agency officially starts tomorrow, you should all be officially signed as Atlanta Falcons for the 2017 season. I’m gonna go back into the facility to start designing some plays for y’all, but why don’t you guys just hang out here and maybe practice some plays. Oh, before I forget, I also have some #Brotherhood t-shirts for each of you. And here - Mr. Blank gave me some celebratory 25%-off Home Depot coupons for each of you. What a guy he is.”
FALCONS OFFENSIVE FREE AGENTS: “Thanks, Coach Sark!”
Coach Sarkisian walks toward the team offices as the six players remain on the Flowery Branch practice field
ALDRICK ROBINSON: “You guys hear that? Coach Sark is gonna design some plays for me next year. Everyone will be asking: Julio who?”
MATT SCHAUB: “Ha. Right. Well, I can’t wait to run all of the plays that Coach Sark designs for me next year.”
All of the other free agents look at each other, then burst out laughing.
SCHAUB: “Fair point. Well, I’ll put up some big numbers in preseason maybe.”
Suddenly, the players are jolted by a thunderously loud noise coming from above. The players, confused, all hold their hands over their ears while looking toward the sky. A fighter jet slowly descends onto the practice field. The cockpit opens, and the free agents slowly realize that the pilot has a very familiar face, and is none other than......
KYLE SHANAHAN: “Hey there, fellas. You miss me?”
Inside the team facility, Scott Pioli drinks coffee out of a mug while sitting at his desk. Suddenly, he sees something on his screen that causes him to spit out his coffee and race to his feet. He immediately starts running down the hallway.
SCOTT PIOLI: “THOMAS! DQ! MR. BLANK! (tries to catch his breath) WE HAVE A SITUA—”
Pioli turns the corner and crashes into Tyson Jackson, who is lifelessly occupying space in the hallway for no particular reason.
PIOLI: “Oh, Tyson, I’m so sorry to run into you like that, boo. Don’t worry - I’ll keep talking to Thomas and Mr. Blank about getting you that 5-year extension we both know you deserve. BIG BOY CHIEFS 4EVA!”
Pioli and Tyson Jackson embrace in a warm bear hug.
PIOLI: “Now what was it that I was doing before I ran into you?”
Meanwhile, back on the practice field:
SHANAHAN: “Look, guys. I’m not gonna beat around the bush here. I want you all to join me in San Francisco. I know you like it here in Atlanta, but look: Jed York gave me his friggin’ fighter jet to come here and get you guys! I don’t even have a pilot’s license! I’m telling you guys: whatever you think you’re worth, try tripling it in San Francisco! No one in that organization has a clue what they’re doing. I’ll just be like ‘Yeah, that guy is good’ and John Lynch’ll be like ‘Yeah, I called some of his games and he looked good’ and Jed’ll be like ‘Ok, let me go sign that check then.’ I mean, we just signed a fullback to a right tackle contract.”
The players look at each other skeptically.
SHANAHAN: “I get it: you guys like playing in Atlanta with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, yada yada, and don’t want to leave. But look: I’ll make it worth it for you. Hey Schaub: don’t you want to be a starting quarterback again? I’ll pencil you in over Hoyer.”
SCHAUB: “Coach, I really like it here with Matt Ryan, and —”
SHANAHAN: “And Levine: You know how we would run those bootlegs where the other team would completely forget to cover you? We’re going to run that play like 100 times next year. You’ll catch 80 balls easy.”
LEVINE TOILOLO: “I just don’t know, coach.”
SHANAHAN: “Levine, I know you loved it back at Stanford. Think of all the sold-out ukelele concerts you can perform for the Silicon Valley tech nerds. Oh and Tamme: don’t think I forgot about you either bud. The Toilolo/Tamme duo is going to pull off 20 touchdowns next season. At least.”
Toilolo and Tamme look at each other and nod.
SHANAHAN: “And Aldrick Robinson, man. By the time mid-season rolls around, those folks in San Francisco watching you catch balls left and right are going to be like Jerry Rice who?
ROBINSON: “Now this is what I want to hear.”
SHANAHAN: “And then how about my starting offensive linemen? Chris Chester, the ageless silver-haired wonder and Tom ‘City of’ Compton. Hey Tom: You can be a 49ers starting offensive tackle and in your spare time perform hip-hop concerts alongside Dr. Dre.”
TOM COMPTON: “I think I’d be great at doing both of those things.”
SHANAHAN: “So c’mon guys, join me in San Francisco. Come with me and soak up all of those sweet, sweet free agency dollars.”
The free agents look at each other and nod, before walking up to the jet.
SHANAHAN: “Good decision, fellas. I’ll open up the hatch in back. There’s an Xbox One back there, some bean bag chairs, a pool table. Jed York has fully equipped this fighter jet to double as a bachelor pad.”
Matt Schaub stops walking.
SCHAUB: “Wait a second. I love being a backup quarterback. I was born to be a backup quarterback. I want to hold that clipboard for the rest of my life. Sorry guys, I’ve gotta stick it out for two more years with the #Brotherhood.”
SHANAHAN: “Suit yourself, Matt. Maybe we’ll send you a postcard sometime to let you know how much of Jed York’s money we’re all making. See ya!”
Meanwhile, back in the Falcons’ practice facility....
ARTHUR BLANK: “How could we have possibly let Kyle Shanahan fly a fighter jet into the middle of our practice field? I mean, he already stole Earl Mitchell from our grasp. And now this? Scott, what about all that money I’m paying you to put spy cameras all around the facility?”
PIOLI: “Mr. Blank, I came to see you as soon as my cameras spotted the jet, and —”
BLANK: “Thomas, is any of this even allowed?”
THOMAS DIMITROFF (quickly reviewing papers): “I’m reading the NFL free agency rulebook and it doesn’t say anywhere in here that during the legal tampering period you can’t fly a fighter jet into another team’s facility and kidnap that team’s free agents. I guess we’ll have to raise this with the Competition Committee next month.”
BLANK: “Diabolical. This is even worse than this time last year when Bill Belichick crawled through our sewers and absconded with Chris Long. DQ, what’s our defensive game plan to respond to this?”
DAN QUINN (coolly): “Oh, I have some ideas, Mr. Blank.” DQ cracks his knuckles.
Back on the practice field:
KYLE SHANAHAN: “Alright guys, stow your tray tables and make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened. Next stop: San Francisco.”
Suddenly, the giant Falcon statue from the front of Mercedes-Benz stadium descends on the practice field and readies itself to attack the fighter jet.
BLANK (watching on Pioli-vision): “I had no idea that the Falcon statue could do that.”
DQ (watching through binoculars from the office window): “Like I always say, we preach fast-and-physical here. We wouldn’t allow construction of a 64-foot long Falcon statue unless we’re sure that statue is fast and physical.”
The flying giant Falcon statute tries to take on the fighter jet head-on, but the jet jukes out the statue, causing the statue to stumble onto the practice-field turf, breaking one of its steel ankles in the process.
KYLE SHANAHAN: “Seriously people, you think I wouldn’t be ready for an attack by a giant Falcon statue? I’m Kyle Shanahan - offensive mastermind! I was designing offensive game plans to defeat giant flying statues back when I was in elementary school. Don’t you know who my father is? Seriously, I’m ready for any kind of defense you throw at me, be it zone blitz, cover-2, or....Crippled...Giant...Statue.”
Shanahan presses some buttons and the jet launches two missiles at the Falcon statue. The statue explodes, sending steel bits flying everywhere and a steel falcon head flying through Arthur Blank’s office window.
ARTHUR BLANK (sighing): “I really loved that window.”
RICH McKAY: “Damn. We really needed that giant statue to sell PSLs.”
BLANK: “We can’t worry about that right now. We need to get our free agents back. DQ - what’s our next move?”
DQ: “I’m calling in some reinforcements.”
Back on the practice field:
SHANAHAN: “Ok, guys, we’re getting going for real this time.”
Suddenly, several of the Falcons’ top ping-pong players run up alongside the field with paddles and fiery, exploding ping-pong balls in hand. Julio Jones, D.J. Tialavea, Brian Poole, Josh Harris, Matt Bosher and others begin swatting the balls toward the jet.
DQ (looking through binoculars): “I told you guys, having that ping-pong table in the locker room was going to pay off for this team, whether it’s fostering competition, furthering the #Brotherhood, or preventing an enemy jet from swooping in and stealing our free agents.”
Kyle Shanahan navigates the jet to face in the direction of the players spraying ping-pong balls.
SHANAHAN (with evil laughter): “Oh, come on. Y’all are gonna need a better gameplan than that to stop me.”
Emerging all along the fighter jet are ball receivers, which catch the ping-pong balls as they arrive, and spike them to the practice turf, where they explode upon impact.
SHANAHAN (in full evil madman voice): “THAT’S RIGHT. I HAVE RECEIVERS TOO. You see that back there, guys? That’s the type of receiving and spiking you’re gonna be doing for me all football season. I’m done with this Falcons mamby-pamby ping-pong stuff. Let’s get out of here.”
ARTHUR BLANK: “We can’t even stop this guy with exploding ping pong balls? DQ - please, I’m begging you. I put all my faith in you. I know you can defeat this clown.”
DQ (calmly): “Mr. Blank, I have one more idea to stop him.”
Suddenly, a retractable roof emerges from the ground over the practice field and around the jet. However, gaps in the roof leave a very wide opening at the far end of the field and a very narrow opening at the near end.
BLANK (watching on Pioli-vision): “I don’t get it, DQ. This is your big plan? How is this going to stop him? You left him that huge opening over there for him to fly out of easily. All he has to do is make the obvious call in this situation and he’ll beat us. Why would you ever in your right mind think that Kyle Shanahan wouldn’t take a gimme and emerge victorious? What could possibly make you think that Kyle Shanahan would not choose the obvious route toward victory?”
DQ coolly and confidently stares out the window.
DQ: “Just watch.”
On the field, Kyle Shanahan looks back and forth in both directions of the practice field and then begins flying the jet toward the direction of the narrow opening.
SHANAHAN: “You see, gentlemen. It’s like I’ve told you guys the last two years. You always have to bring an aggressive offensive mentality. NO. MATTER. WHAT. You ALWAYS. STAY. AGGRESSIVE. (Cackling) HERE WE GO, BOYS. LET’S BRING THIS JET HOME!”
TOILOLO (whispering to other free agents): “Psst, guys, I think I see some parachutes and an escape hatch back here.”
Blank, DQ, Dimitroff, Pioli, and McKay stare out the window as the jet flies toward the narrow opening in the roof. Suddenly, a figure emerges below that opening. It’s Freddie Falcon carrying a giant rocket-launcher.
SHANAHAN (sweating profusely): “You have to bring the aggressive mindset. YOU LIVE BY THE AGGRESSIVE MINDSET AND YOU DIE BY THE AGGRESSIVE MINDSET.”
Freddie Falcon picks up the rocket launcher and points it directly at the jet.
SHANAHAN (pulling back from the controls, realizing he’s toast): “Guys......I blew it.”
Freddie Falcon launches the rocket. The rocket hits Kyle Shanahan directly, who at the moment of impact experiences deep in his soul as much pain and anguish as an entire city of despondent football fans. If not more.
As the free agents each parachute safely onto the practice field, Matt Schaub approaches and the players all give each other hugs and high-fives.
JACOB TAMME: “TO THE BROTHERHOOD!”
OTHER FREE AGENTS: “TO THE BROTHERHOOD!”
Inside Falcons HQ, Blank, DQ, Dimitroff, Pioli, and McKay cheer.
ARTHUR BLANK: “I never doubted you for a second, DQ!”
Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door.
MATT RYAN: “Oh, hey gentleman. I was just in the middle of my off-season regimen of studying the playbook, watching film, and lifting weights for 17 hours per day. Did I miss anything?”
Blank and the others look at each other before cracking up.
RYAN: “What? What’s so funny?”