Atlanta excellence was on display at SunTrust Park on Saturday afternoon. Big names showed up to partake in the 19th annual celebrity flag football challenge, sponsored by Celebrity Sweat.
It was team Michael Vick taking on team Doug Flutie in a flag football game consisting of two 30 minute halves (running clock) on the SunTrust Park field.
Current Falcons players De’Vondre Campbell and Brian Poole were featured, as well as NFL stars Melvin Gordon, Darius Slay, Trai Turner, Desmond King and Jarvis Landry. Former Falcons Brian Jordan and Devin Hester suited up too.
Before the game began I got a chance to speak to a few of the players about the event and the current state of the Atlanta Falcons.
Brian Jordan, the former two-sport athlete with both the Falcons and Braves, who played with the Birds from 1989-1991, told me he thinks that the Falcons have a good chance to “at least return to the playoffs” next year if they can draft some offensive lineman to protect Matt Ryan.
What was his favorite moment as a Falcon? “Beating the Saints in ‘91 to go to the playoffs, and getting a hand on blocking Morten Anderson’s field goal attempt to win the game,” Jordan said. However, his favorite moment as just a fan of the team was when Julio Jones made that incredible catch in Super Bowl 51 which should have won the game. I’m sure that would be near the top of everyone’s list had Atlanta been able to close that one out.
Jordan concluded by telling me that the event meant a lot to him because the money was going toward a great cause — hero sports and local veteran organizations — the military means a lot to him because of all of the sacrifices they make.
Starting Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell also had some thoughts on the state of the defense in particular when asked, saying that Atlanta has a very talented group and that they “just have to put it together.”
When I asked Campbell was his favorite memory as a Falcon has been thus far he cited the NFC Championship victory in the 2016 season: “The atmosphere was ridiculous. We gotta get back there,” Campbell said.
De’Vondre isn’t the only member of Falcons nation who has his eyes set on a deep playoff run next season — fans of the team have developed those same expectations. The hunger for success is more prevalent than ever after that 2016 season, especially when you see all the talent on Atlanta’s roster.
“Number one, besides going against Calvin Johnson in practice every day,” Slay said.
When alluding to what made Julio such a tough cover, the Pro Bowler cited his speed, strength and the fact that he “catches everything.”
Slay also offered praise for Atlanta CB Desmond Trufant: “That’s my guy. He’s doing his thing and getting better every year. Him and Rocky (Robert Alford) - that’s a good tandem,” Slay said.
Following the pregame festivities, and the Vets vs. Pros military scrimmage, it was time for the game to begin. Michael Vick earned the loudest ovation from the crowd when his name was announced in the pregame.
Vick didn’t play in the game, but his squad got the ball first and marched downfield to take a 6-0 lead, and then Doug Flutie’s team proceeded to go to work.
Flutie himself quarterbacked his team, and answered with a first drive which culminated in a touchdown pass to UFC fighter Tyron Woodley.
Brian Jordan would then secure an interception which was taken back for six, a number of laterals later, to give Team Flutie a lead which it would never relinquish. Woodley himself got another interception which was once again returned for six (after a few laterals of course), on Team Vick’s very next drive to put Team Flutie up 20-6 going into the half.
Rap star Quavo of Migos stepped into the quarterback role for Team Vick and pulled his team to within 20-12 with a touchdown pass on his first drive of the second half (following a Flutie interception).
Two more pic 6s (both interceptions secured by Brian Jordan, and scored by someone else) and two more Doug Flutie passing touchdowns would see Team Flutie score 27 points unanswered to go up 47-12.
The game would end with two more Flutie touchdown drives, one for each team (yes, he switched sides for a drive), bringing the final score to 54-19 for Team Flutie over Team Vick.
Doug Flutie was named the player of the game with five touchdown passes (including the one he scored against his own team), although Brian Jordan gave him a run for his money with those three interceptions, each of which was returned for a touchdown after about a hundred combined laterals.
It was a fun event, some money was raised for a great cause and a good time was had by all.