That’s it. I’m done.
Following a night on which both the Falcons and the Braves tantalized me yet again with the prospect of victory, only to snatch it back at the last moment — ending the Braves’ promising season and effectively ending the Falcons’ — I hereby declare that I am no longer a diehard fan of Atlanta’s professional sports franchises.
Oh, I’ll still be a casual fan. I’ll still check the standings occasionally, still wish them well, still watch them on TV (when there’s nothing on I’d rather watch, such as “Castle” re-runs), maybe even take in a game once a year with the boys. But I will never again invest any emotional energy in the hope that Atlanta might actually win a world championship. Or even a first-round series.
I know. Some of you are disgusted, calling me a “fair-weather fan” and worse. Well, I’ve pulled for the Braves since the days of Hammerin’ Hank; for the Falcons since Steve Bartkowski roamed the backfield; for the Hawks since Sweet Lou drained jumpers. In all those years, there hasn’t been a whole lot of fair weather.
Sure, the sun broke out occasionally: When Hank hit 715, when the Falcons went to their only Super Bowl, when Dominique almost — almost !— outdueled Larry Legend. And of course blue skies reigned in 1995, the year the Bravos won our only title.
That was nearly two decades ago. All the other years, especially those with great promise (like this year?), ended in bitter disappointment — the greater the promise, the bitterer the disappointment.
Each fall I read the Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy entices Charlie Brown to kick the football — just so she call pull it away at the last minute and watch him fall flat on his back. And every year I want to scream, “Don’t do it, Charlie Brown! It’s a trick!”
This week, I had an epiphany: I am Charlie Brown, with Atlanta’s pro teams collectively playing the role of Lucy. As of right now, I’m done with being fooled.
Instead, I’m going to spend my emotional capital on my college team, Tennessee (class of ‘86), which after a strong showing against Georgia seems poised to return to SEC prominence. My second-favorite team will be whoever is playing Alabama.
As for the pros, each year I’ll just pick a team that I like for some reason and root for them — root but not become too invested. This NFL season I’m pulling for the Denver Broncos, with fellow UT alum and all-time great Peyton Manning at the helm. I also like the Seattle Seahawks because I enjoy watching Russell Wilson — I thought he was better last year than RG3 — and because, let’s face it, they have cool uniforms.
In fact, I think a Broncos vs. Seahawks Super Bowl would be a lot of fun — especially since, yet again, it’s not going to be the Falcons against anyone.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less in Buford and on Amazon. Email Rob at email@example.com or visit familymanthebook.com.