Atlanta Falcons fans were dished a plate full of hate this morning, compliments of ESPN writer Rob Parker.
Parker, a regular on the popular ESPN2 show "First Take," wrote an opinion column that was treated with the teasing line, "City of Atlanta doesn't deserve [playoff] win."
Parker's article focused, for lack of a better word, on the flip-flop tendencies of Atlanta's pro sports fanbase.
While his original starting point might have been a credible one, his execution of his opinions turned out to become an arguably foolish and lackluster attempt to bash a city, that, well, actually does have a passionate fanbase.
The article makes interesting jabs at Southern culture, such as this line:
"Your typical Atlanta fan—who is probably from another city since so few are actually from ATL— will be preoccupied with something else. They might not even be sure what time the game is on.
In fact, at some point, they might ask a friend—filled with sweet tea—at a pork-saturated barbeque, 'Are the Falcons playing today?'" (By the way, it's spelled barbecue.)
Parker's most outrageous claim was this statement:
"If the New York Yankees are the standard for excellence in baseball, Atlanta is the epitome of the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fan support.
Hence, the Atlanta Falcons shouldn't be allowed to win and reward some of the worst fans in the country."
First off, New York bias could not be more blatant. Making the statement about the New York Yankees actually does nothing to help the latter part of the claim, consisting of the major jab at Atlanta fan support.
Maybe Atlanta fans have not been the greatest, but they are definitely not the worst. And, Atlanta, in the past decade, has been treated to a major surge in professional sports success that a lot of other cities saw consistently for decades.
Plus, all Atlanta professional teams came to the city in the '60s. The culture is easing its way in, but it's definitely the best it has ever been.
Parker also fails to put things in perspective, as if that wasn't implied already.
New York is a city with 19 million people in it. These people have vast subway access.
Atlanta is a city of just 430,000 residents, and most Falcons fans live in the counties that serve hour long drives, at least, to reach the Georgia Dome.
Yet, the Falcons sold out their playoff game last year within minutes. The Giants, as of today, have yet to sell out the game their spiffy new stadium is hosting.
But, what makes this article even more hysterical is the fact that Parker doesn't really take jabs at the Falcons, even though the article was posted to center around the playoff game against the Giants on Sunday.
Even in the adorning video, Parker doesn't even mention the Falcons. He complains about fan attendance at Braves games, gives the Hawks a hard time and makes fun of Atlanta for losing two NHL franchises.
Of course Atlanta lost two NHL franchises. Hockey and Atlanta don't go together.
But, football and Atlanta go great together. The South is the epicenter of football, and the Falcons have seen a tremendous amount of fan support since the turn of the century.
Sure, there was a dip with the Petrino departure and Vick imprisonment, but since general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith have been here, the Falcons have become one of the more likeable NFL teams in the league.
The cast and crew within the organization has not only been the winningest regime, by far, in Atlanta history, but the community involvement and promotions that the Falcons organization has put together has paid off with unrivaled fan support.
In fact, according to statistics posted by an angered Atlantan and Yahoo! sports writer Hobson Lopes, the Falcons had a 96.6 percent capacity rate this year.
The Giants had a capacity rate of 96.3.
These statistics hold even more weight in the dispute. Why?
Parker failed to use statistical data in his article. A rookie journalistic mistake made by a "professional."
Atlanta fans banded together all day, filling the comment section on the article with over 5,000 comments, ridiculing Parker's integrity.
Some comments might be a little harsh, and I, as a Falcons fan, still respect Parker as a writer who has reached the pinnacle of my prospective profession. But, I can't help but find his article out of line and distasteful.
A board member from the Atlanta Falcons message boards said it best, sending this response to Parker in an email, and posting it on the boards.
"The author is an idiot and probably a typical New York jerk. Whether the Falcons had 1 fan or 100,000 fans in the Dome, the Atlanta Falcon players under Mike Smith have consistently proved that they deserve success for their hard work. We have wishy washy fans, I know, mainly because of what he said in the article. There are so many imports from other places...Hmmm I wonder why?...It must be something that brought them here? Oh well, We don't have the sympathy of a Katrina (New Orleans), 9-11(NYC) or economic disaster (Detroit) for more people or the media to jump on the bandwagon until we win a championship but our players,coaches,staff, and few (in comparison) fans DESERVE the satisfaction of whatever accomplishments that we gain....Signed falconfan1997, born in New York."
There is no doubt that Parker's article got him the attention he wanted. But, it also worked out in Atlanta's favor.
It's evident, all across the Internet today, that there are plenty of Falcons fans out there.
This is where Parker looks worst. His angle takes him off a cliff. The people in Atlanta who don't care for Atlanta sports aren't Atlanta fans.
The people who fired shots at him all day--the true Falcons fans--are, of course, Falcons fans. (I know that might seem redundant, but it had to be said for minds like Parker's to understand)
Falcons fans are passionate, and have suffered through losses for years. Their commitment to a team that isn't regularly on the top gives them more of a right to win this game.
Falcons fans deserve a win just as much as the team does. And, by golly, this team deserves a win.
They are all very angry and all very ready to see the Falcons "Rise Up" against the Giants on Sunday.