The Atlanta Falcons have had some truly great players over the years. Only a handful have impacted the franchise and the city the way Michael Vick and Roddy White did, and fittingly, the Falcons sent them off with a little pomp and circumstance on Monday in a retirement ceremony that belatedly recognized the contributions both made.
Vick will remain controversial in Atlanta forever, but time has slowly made the 2007 debacle less painful for everyone but Bobby Petrino, because screw that guy. He finished his abbreviated Falcons career as a #1 pick who owns the only 1,000 yard rushing season from a quarterback in NFL history, plus an NFC Conference Championship berth and a revitalized fanbase that got invested in Falcons football again largely because of him. His outsized impact is felt every time someone says they became a Falcons fan because of him, which is pretty much every day in my Twitter mentions.
You don’t have to hear him talk for very long before it becomes clear how special Atlanta was and is to him, and how much his legacy in the city means. I’ll always remember Vick because you knew he might do something impossible and wonderful during every drive of the game. He took a team I loved and made them eye-popping.
And then there’s Roddy, who was cut after a season of diminished production and feuding with Kyle Shanahan at the end of a long and distinguished career in Atlanta. The exit can’t have been a fun one for Roddy, but like Vick, his heart’s in the city. Unlike Vick, Roddy started and finished his career as Falcon, breaking every franchise record for a receiver, talking a hell of a lot of trash about the Saints, and reeling in countless catches over the years where he simply should not have been open. The man was a wizard, and one of the greatest players I ever got to watch.
Neither one signed a one-day contract, so this was an unofficial sort of way to send both off, but an effective and moving one. It’s worth noting that Arthur Blank didn’t rule out retiring either player’s number (?!) and said both could be added to the team’s Ring of Honor, though obviously Roddy’s the clubhouse favorite for that honor.
Either way, congratulations are due to both Roddy and Vick. Take a moment to share a favorite memory or your impression of the ceremony.