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 Charlie Harris. Charlie is a passionate Atlanta Falcons fan from the United Kingdom. He grew up in rural Kent, a quintessential English countryside area where cricket is a more mainstream sport than American football. He fell in love with the Falcons and the NFL as a teenager as the game surged in popularity and coverage in the UK.
Charlie says he’s an all-around sports junkie, and he’s fortunate to combine his love of sports with work, as he works for the Fulham Football Club. Charlie and his fiancée, who is from the United States, currently reside in London, England. I asked Charlie some questions on the state of the franchise and some of his more personal stories as an Atlanta Falcons fan. Let’s get started.
How did you become an Atlanta Falcons fan?
It was around the age of 13 when my friends and I started becoming interested in (American) football. Sky Sports started showing a lot more games over here, and we all started picking teams.
The first game I watched on television was the Falcons versus the St. Louis Rams, and Michael Vick was electric! Since then I’ve been hooked on the Falcons and the NFL, little did I know what I was getting myself into. I stay up late for every game. The primetime games finish at about 5:30 a.m. UK time, which can make work a struggle the next day. I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Falcons live four times and have an unbeaten record on United States soil. I was studying abroad in the U.S. in 2012 and, along with some friends, drove 18 hours from upstate New York to the Georgia Dome to see the Falcons beat the Dallas Cowboys. I also saw us beat the Eagles in Philly that year. I also made the trip for the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the Green Bay Packers in 2017, that was truly the experience of a lifetime! Despite everything that’s happened since I became a fan of the “Dirty Birds” I love my team and wouldn’t change anything (aside from 28-3).
Who is your favorite Atlanta Falcons player of all-time?
It’s a bit left field, but my personal favorite player is running back Jerious Norwood! I loved his breakneck speed, ability to make defenders miss, and burst for a long touchdown run. It was a shame he was brittle and injury prone as he had such raw talent and speed.
Defensively, I was a big fan of Brent Grimes when he played in the ATL. He had such a great story coming from tiny Shippensburg College via NFL Europe. I really admired his ability to make spectacular leaping interceptions and pass defenses despite his size. Although my opinion of him soured when he went to the Bucs.
Matt Ryan is hands down the greatest Falcon of all time. The franchise was on its knees when we drafted him, and it will be a travesty if he doesn’t win a Lombardi. Like Evan, I was gutted when the team released Matt Bryant and I’m praying it doesn’t backfire.
What are your thoughts on the 2019 NFL Draft?
I liked it. Last year it felt like we were papering over cracks on the offensive line and the Lindstrom/McGary picks are a solid investment. I understand concerns over not investing a pick on the defensive line, but I’m hoping that Dan Quinn taking over as defensive coordinator will see this part of the team improve.
What are you most interested about this upcoming season?
The return of Dirk! I always thought Steve Sarkisian became a bit of a scapegoat and had a tough act to follow, replacing Kyle Shanahan. I really like the Dirk Koetter hire; he knows how to get the best out of Matt Ryan. I think, like Quinn after last season’s failures, he’s got a point to prove after being fired in Tampa Bay.
If we stay healthy and the offensive line comes together, I think we can have the best offense in the league again. It’ll be great to have Ricardo Allen, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal back too! I also love that we are flying under the radar and haven’t been talked about much in the media. It was like that in 2016 and look what happened.
What’s your favorite Atlanta Falcons uniform?
I was a big fan of the all black alternate jerseys we wore occasionally from the early 2000s before the current throwbacks were introduced. Would love it if they were brought back.
I greatly appreciate Charlie 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 @CharlieHarris32, and he invites any of the UK-based readers to join the Atlanta Falcons United Kingdom Facebook community.
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 @EvanBirchfield. Thanks for reading!