When you think of Canadians watching NFL football, you probably think of the border team kinship—Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings for the westerners, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, and New England Patriots for those of us on the east. It’s a logical connection that begs the question: how did a Toronto girl end up as an Atlanta Falcons fan?
Like it or not, I’m a Falcons fan because of Michael Vick. My beginnings with watching the sport are questionable at best—I decided early on to like this team for two reasons: Andre Rison, the former boyfriend of TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes had previously played for them, and I liked the colors. Go ahead and roll your eyes, I get it.
After a few years of fledgling football fandom, I found myself watching the game on a more regular basis, with my loyalties right back where they started: Atlanta. It was 2003 and when I saw Vick return to his starting position after being out with an injury for most of the season I was awestruck. He was a pretty quarterback (QB) who made the game look good.
Admittedly, accuracy in passing wasn’t always his strongest suit, but in my books his ability to run the ball more than made up for that.
Watching Vick play thrilled me on a higher level. I never knew what he was going to do with the ball, and it created a sense of excitement every time he decided to run. Still to this day when I see a QB—any QB—run the ball, I get that little extra jolt on the inside that reminds me of why I love the game. Vick started that for me, and solidified my bond with him as a player and with the Falcons organization.
During that season the Falcons ended up with a dismal 5-11 record, but the final four games that Vick started sported a record of 3-1—not too shabby. It made be believe that the Falcons had potential to do some exciting things on the field: with Vick, Warrick Dunn and Alge Crumpler to name a few of the go-getters, I wanted to be on board to see where this team would go. That season made me sit up and pay attention, and for the first time ever, gave me a legitimate reason to call myself a Falcons fan.
Sure the situation has changed, as it always does, over the last few years. Vick has seen prison time and faces an uncertain future in the NFL, and both Crumpler and Dunn have moved on from the organization. Vick was the one who got me hooked, and now second year QB Matt Ryan has me wide-eyed with the flavor of post-season hope, but through it all one thing remains: this girl’s status as a Falcons fan is still holding strong.