Greetings, Falcoholics, I’m back with another edition of The Falcoholic’s “Fan Spotlight.” This segment highlights Atlanta Falcons fans from around the globe and shares how they became a fan of the team and their thoughts on the franchise.
This week’s Fan Spotlight is on Austin Grant. Austin’s a lifelong Atlanta Falcons fan who has been to some memorable games, such as the 2012 Falcons-Seahawks divisional game, the 2012 NFC Championship, and the 2016 NFC Championship. I asked Austin some questions on the state of the franchise and to share some of his more personal stories as an Atlanta Falcons fan. Let’s get started.
How did you become an Atlanta Falcons fan?
Starting in elementary school my Dad would take me to Falcons games every Sunday, at first, I had no interest in going but slowly I started to enjoy it and the time spent with him. When the Falcons drafted quarterback Michael Vick is when everything changed. I started following every game and reading every piece of offseason news I could get my hands on. I was officially hooked for life.
Who is your favorite Atlanta Falcons player of all-time?
This question was tough. I thought about Julio, Roddy, Matt Bryant but I must say Matt Ryan. After the Vick scandal Ryan came into a tough situation, the city was still hurt by Vick and we weren’t entirely sure we were ready for another QB. How Ryan handled himself those early years really won me over, he’s class personified. He’s a top-5 quarterback and (in my opinion) one of the most underrated players in NFL history. He’s everything you want in a player and a great representative of this city.
What is your favorite Atlanta Falcons memory?
When asked this question I thought I would say the Falcons beating the Packers to advance to the Super Bowl in the 2016 NFC Championship game. But when I thought about it, I realized it was the 2012 Seahawks versus Falcons playoff game where Matt Bryant hit the game winning field goal in the 4th quarter to send Atlanta to the NFC Championship. What I remember most about that game is how many people were crying (including me) from pure joy. Strangers were hugging. It was an incredible moment at the Georgia Dome that I’ll never forget.
What’s your least favorite Atlanta Falcons memory?
I’m sure every Falcons fan has the same answer, but honestly what else could it be? Super Bowl 51. Yep I said it, the unspeakable words. I think about that game and the things we should have done (RUN THE BALL) at least once a week. We were as close to a Super Bowl ring as you can get, and then we lost it. It’s an awful feeling that I wouldn’t wish on anyone (okay maybe Saints fans).
What are your thoughts on the 2019 Offseason?
Going into the offseason it was clear the Falcons needed to improve two things: the offensive line and the pass rush. I think they’ve improved the offensive line in free agency (though I still expect them to take an offensive tackle later in the draft) and will look to get pass rush help in a loaded draft. Now some things I didn’t like were bringing back Vic Beasley at $12.8M and cutting kicker Matt Bryant. It’s HARD to find a clutch kicker in the NFL and to let Bryant go without even asking if he’ll take a pay cut was a shocking move. Depending on the draft and getting Grady/Julio signed to long term deals this could be a make or break offseason in Atlanta.
What’s your outlook on the 2019 season?
Three things excite me about the 2019 season: Dan Quinn taking over the defense, Dirk Koetter back with Ryan, and star players back from injury. DQ did a great job when he took over the defensive playcalling in the second half of the season in 2016 and I can’t wait to see what he does with a full offseason and healthy roster. There are few people that know Ryan as well as Dirk Koetter. With all of these weapons and familiarity I expect big things from our offense this year. Finally, health. We lost so many players to injury last year that we never got a chance to see what our full roster could do. If all of those things come together like I hope I think we go 11-5 or 10-6.
I appreciate Austin for sharing his thoughts on the Falcons, and for being the focus of this week’s ‘Fan Spotlight’ article. You can find him on Twitter typically tweeting about the sports world or the film industry @AustinPlanet. Additionally, you can find him on Instagram posting his photography @AustinCPhotos.
If you’d like to be considered for a future ‘Fan Spotlight’ or know of someone who deserves to be, let me know on Twitter where you can find me at @EvanBirchfield. Thanks for reading!