It has not been a banner time to be a Falcons fan for several years, but things are looking up. The roster is slowly improving, there’s a big wheelbarrow full of cap space headed this team’s way in 2023, and there are enough pieces in Atlanta to think the team will at least be more fun in 2022 than it was in 2021.
It’s an interesting time for the team’s nemeses and rivalries, though. Drew Brees has retired and isn’t even on a broadcast any longer after putting millions to sleep nationwide. Sean Payton is waiting to get back into coaching after Mike McCarthy inevitably calls a fake punt on 3rd and 3 in a critical playoff game. Tom Brady is still here and still the most loathsome Botox patient in existence, but even his career appears to be winding down. Hell, even Cam Newton and Ron Rivera are long gone in Carolina, which is a fellow sad sack team you can barely muster up any hatred for. Suddenly, the people you could reliably hate on over the last decade are gone from our biggest rivals, and that leaves something of a void.
Perhaps it’s enough to simply continue to pull the lever that says “Saints hatred” until the streets run with it, a notion I wholeheartedly support. It’s not like Cameron Jordan has retired, or Taysom Hill is being obnoxious on a CFL team, or that the organization doesn’t remain a loathsome and annoying bunch that will forever be an easy target for our fan hatred. It’s just that the reliable targets of our vitriol are, for one reason or another, moving on and fading away.
But maybe there’s a player (or players) and coach (or coaches) from division rivals who will step naturally and gracefully into our enmity. Maybe it’ll be Byron Leftwich, the new head coach of the Buccaneers and a man who might be ready to keep Tampa Bay out of the basement for a couple more years. Maybe there’s a quarterback stepping into the limelight for the Buccaneers who will be incredibly easy to hate, even if there are big stupid shoes to fill when Brady leaves. Perhaps it’ll be milquetoast Dennis Allen, or longtime Falcons killer Jameis Winston finally settling into a starting role in New Orleans. Or maybe it’ll be Matt Rhule or Matt Corral and sorry I just can’t take that one seriously, I’m sorry.
Who will step in and fill the role as the person (or persons) we Falcons fans truly love to hate? Let’s see your nominations, and if you’re simply sticking to “the Saints,” I respect that too.