All quotes and situations contained in this article are fictional. The Great Metal Falcon does not fly, or if it does, we haven’t seen it. We’re not sure if Arthur Blank owns a blunderbuss.
The sound of rattling steel echoed off of the walls in the dusky bowels of Atlanta’s headquarters in Flowery Branch. One mile beneath the earth, from the depths of the Falcons’ facility, the angry vibrations could be felt.
It was owner Arthur Blank’s birthday party, but those celebrations take place in silence, by tradition. These were not the reverberations of any kind of joy; the stalagmites shook, the walls rumbled, and a metallic screech bellowed from below the practice field.
Arthur Blank, festooned in his ceremonial red and black robes (now spattered with cream cheese frosting and red velvet crumbles from the festivities) emerged from his chambers with annoyance and opened the oak door leading to the subterranean caverns that house The Great Metal Falcon.
The Falcons’ handbook for new hires on the storage and care of this ancient, steel, alien beast are clearly defined: On game day, read it literature from Drew Brees-endorsed multi level marketing schemes to anger it, grease its wing joints with Fast & Physical salve, and make sure you set the damn timed lock on the cage once you’re finished.
This was the second week in a row that Dan Quinn failed to secure a fourth quarter lead, his clock management deficiencies on full display. But it was now two weeks straight that he neglected to secure The Great Metal Falcon in its enclosure and Uncle Artie had reached his boiling point. This was no way to celebrate a birthday.
Mr. Blank would no longer accept a head coach who could not lock down double-digit leads in two consecutive weeks, let alone a coach who failed to lock up the extraterrestrial razor-beaked bird that lurks beneath his facility. It was clear that Quinn’s issue with clocks did not merely apply to football games.
Metal wings scraped across the limestone as The Great Metal Falcon made its way from the antechamber and approached the spiral staircase. You would think a thirty-foot tall bird of prey made of steel would have trouble navigating the serpentine turns of such a layout, but as the bird’s quarters were constructed by the same folks who designed Atlanta’s defensive scheme, it made its way up to the top level with ease.
“Hey you,” Arthur Blank uttered, as the robotic talons reached the top of the step, the torchlight from the corridor glinting off of their steely points.
“He did it again, Art!,” The Bird squawked, pausing briefly to acknowledge Isaiah Oliver who appeared lost on his way to the practice field. “I’m heading to the football field! I’ve got no plans today! I’m just like Dirk Koetter!”
“Oh, you have plans, Bird,” Mr. Blank responded, the tone in his voice thinly veiling his displeasure at having to leave his birthday cake to deal with this situation. “You’re heading to the field, alright. But there’s a plan.”
Dan Quinn blew his whistle and ended the onside kick recovery drills. “Atta way, men! Just two more days of this and we’ll be ready for Mason Crosby in the fourth quarter!”
But none of the players acknowledged him. They had turned their focus to the field entrance, where Arthur Blank sat astride a giant metal bird, its metallic feet taking massive chunks out of the turf at Flowery Branch as it marched toward Atlanta’s head coach. Blank was wearing a suede safari hat and over-sized cream-colored jodhpurs, the pants adorned with an assortment of cargo pockets. An antique blunderbuss was slung over his right shoulder. He looked like a billionaire Ernest Hemingway as he urged The Great Metal Falcon forward.
Coach Quinn stood transfixed by the winged mech-beast as it lumbered toward him. He gave a quick thought to run, but the field was still littered with hundreds of footballs from today’s onside kick practice and he would assuredly trip and fall. Instead he maintained his posture. At some level, he had accepted his fate.
“Quinn!” Mr. Blank exclaimed, “This is twice now that you’ve had this metal monstrosity properly stored, but forgot to set the timed lock.”
“Mr. Blank, I’ll freely admit that I’m pretty pissed off at myself right now. My execution on that lock was not up to the standard that I’ve set — for you, for the team. This group of guys out here could have been eaten.”
Dan Quinn gestured to the special teams unit, now working with the team hypnotist to resist the charms of spinning footballs.
“They could have, Daniel. They could have born the brunt of your mistakes and found themselves within the tight, metallic grasp of The Bird’s talons. They could have, but they will not. Bird: EMBRACE THE SUCK!”
The Great Metal Falcon reared and hissed and began a charge directly at Atlanta’s head coach as Arthur Blank held on. It swept up Dan Quinn with one of its steel talons and lifted him to stare directly into its eyes that glowed like smelting furnace embers.
“You blew two leads, you unleashed this bird, and you’ve ruined my birthday. For this, there is no recompense. For The Bird to thrive, it needs to feed.”
Quinn was cast headlong into the air and landed in the waiting beakjaws of The Great Metal Falcon, his legs dangling from its steel beak like a futuristic Hieronymus Bosch painting. The beast roared as he attempted to escape, fast-ly and physical-y. He did not succeed.
“Hello? Anyone? It’s dark in here!,” Dan Quinn yelled from the belly of the metal bird. “It’s like being in a submarine, but it smells like bones and birdseed.”
“You’ll be in there for quite some time, Dan,” Arthur Blank sneered as he patted The Great Metal Falcon on the head. “I’ll have our game management coach set his watch to it.”
He spurred the Falcon on its haunches and it sauntered off, making the long trek back to the office to finish the rest of his red velvet birthday cake in silence.