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 River Gracey.
My name is River Gracey, and I am a communications major at Augusta University. I have lived in Augusta my entire life, but I’ve spent so much time in Atlanta with my dad that I consider it a second home. I love everything Georgia sports, and I hope to work in sports broadcasting, writing, and TV. About a little under 3 years ago I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the same year the Falcons had their run at a championship (even though it ended not to our liking). I am officially cancer free as of February 14th, 2017. The Falcons mean everything to me because not only because they kept me happy during the lowest point of my life, but because they finally gave me the relationship with my dad that every child wants.
I asked River 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?
I grew up as an only child, in a single parent household with just my mom and I. Sports wasn’t something me and my mom were worried about too much. My dad had a lot of personal and financial issues that kept him away from me, but eventually he was able to land on his feet and get a job that made decent money. The first thing he wanted to do was take me to a Falcons game. I can still remember him buying my Matt Ryan jersey for me and him being shocked when I told him I knew Matt Ryan was our starting quarterback. My first game was the 2012-2013 NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. The atmosphere in the Georgia Dome was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and all it took was one 50-yard bomb to Julio Jones for me to become addicted. Me and my dad have gone to almost every home game since that day.
Who is your favorite Atlanta Falcons player of all-time?
I know it’s the easy answer, but I gotta go with Matt Ryan. Having a franchise quarterback does so much for the culture of a team. If you look at the Falcons before 2008, they were just another franchise that was known as losers. Matty Ice has changed that entire narrative as the Falcons have become one of the most well-run franchises in the NFL today. It’s indescribable how much a player like him means to an organization.
What does being an Atlanta Falcons fan mean to you?
It means the world to me because it’s so much more than just the competition of it all. The Falcons not only gave me something to root for on Sundays, they gave me a way of finally developing a wonderful relationship with my dad. Not just the Falcons, but all the Atlanta sports teams mean the world to us. I couldn’t imagine as a kid my dad and I getting along like we do now. It’s crazy that watching a simple child’s game has given me so much joy in my family life. The power of sports can bring people together no matter what has happened or what will happen. It gives me a sense of unity and togetherness I didn’t have in my childhood.
What’s your favorite Atlanta Falcons memory?
Even though it didn’t end well, the 2016 run will always have a special place for me. During the bye week of that season, I was diagnosed with cancer and had to begin treatment immediately. I was afraid that I was going to miss what I thought could be a crazy season. Even going through chemotherapy and radiation, I made it to every home game that season. Including both playoff games and the super bowl! The Falcons gave me my favorite memory during the lowest point in my life. I was at rock bottom, but they never let me feel like it... until Tom Brady happened of course.
What’s your outlook/prediction for the 2019 season?
I really do believe we can win this division and make a good run at it. I loved the emphasis on fixing our run game with the additions on the offensive line. I also think the defense takes a huge step forward with Deion, Keanu, and Rico coming back for a full season. When it comes to the other teams in the division, I think Carolina and Tampa have a bit too much turmoil to make a run, and it’s hard to go three straight years as division champs for New Orleans. Drew Brees and the Saints are a TOUGH out, but I think we are just as loaded as they are, and can take back our place at the top of this division.
Is there anything you want to say to fellow Atlanta Falcons’ fans?
You can follow me on Twitter at @ARmaxs_. You can find me on Instagram at @ARmaxs. Also, if you wanna see me act a fool at games on Snapchat, you can find me at @armaxs. To anyone who took the time to read this, if you are having rough times in life, I feel that! But don’t worry! Life has its down moments, but sometimes you gotta know hard times before you can appreciate the good ones. I’m looking at you Super Bowl 51.
Special thanks to River for discussing his Falcons’ fandom with us and sharing some insight into his personal life. As he mentioned, River has been cancer free as of February 14th, 2017. Twelve days before that great news, the Falcons lost the Super Bowl and most of us were probably in tears. As fans, we sometimes don’t realize that the impact the Falcons have on our lives is greater than wins and losses. This young man is a prime example of how even at its’ worst, life goes on and will only get better.
If you’d like to be considered for a future ‘Fan Spotlight’ or know of someone who deserves to be, you can let me know on Twitter @EvanBirchfield or email me at TheFalcoholicEvan@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading!