The Falcons in England: Julio takes a pricey ride

Mike Smith unleashes bon mots in the potting shed. (M. Bradley)

Mike Smith unleashes bon mots in the potting shed. (M. Bradley)

Mike Smith unleashes bon mots in the potting shed. (M. Bradley)

Mike Smith unleashes bon mots in the potting shed. (M. Bradley)

LondonWant to feel disoriented? Take a gander at the Atlanta Falcons, Hall County’s team, after a morning walk-through at their posh hotel in Watford. Same guys, different continent. (Although technically this is an island. But you get the drift.)

The Falcons’ hotel, The Grove, is so posh that it’s the resting place before matches for the English national soccer team. (David Beckham slept here!) Also for visiting clubs before UEFA Champions League games in London. (Lionel Messi, too!) It’s about a 40-minute ride from London itself, as some of the visiting Americans discovered Tuesday.

Julio Jones said he and some of his fellow receivers piled in a cab and made for the heart of the city. The fare was 78 pounds. Or, as Jones noted, $125. “It helps to be riding with guys who have a lot of money,” he said.

Justin Blalock and two teammates took another route — “a bus, a train and two taxis,” Blalock said. They saw a lot, though. “Parliament, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace and the Eye of London,” the latter being the massive Ferris wheel that has dominated the London skyline since the new millennium. Blalock even took a spin on the Eye, which takes almost an hour to rotate. “It goes pretty slow,” he said.

Mike Smith wasn’t so adventurous. He said he and his staff had been three places since landing at Gatwick early Monday — “the airport, the elementary school (the Falcons had a community event at one) and here at The Grove,” Smith said. “Though I just now learned that there’s a beach here.” (As noted, The Grove is quite nice.)

There’s also a golf course, designed by one Eldrick Woods, at which Matt Ryan admitted he’d cast a longing eye but refrained from renting sticks. He’s here on business, after all.

For a team that has lost four in a row and looked horrid in so doing, the Falcons seemed in a good mood. They politely answered questions posed by the British media, and Jones was quite the hit. He admitted he’d been having issues with the five-hour time difference — he awoke Tuesday at 2 a.m. local time — and fielded the staple question about London getting an NFL franchise in a way that made everyone laugh.

“You’ll definitely have the upper hand,” he said, “especially if you don’t let (the opponents) come early. Let them come in on Friday and you’ll kill them every time.”

Then the Falcons boarded buses for Arsenal’s training ground in London Colney, about 15 minutes from The Grove. (Most NFL teams staying at The Grove do everything on-site, but the Falcons, being picky, wanted bigger fields.) Arsenal is one of the giants of English football, meaning soccer, but the Gunners, as they’re known, weren’t present Wednesday. They were in Antwerp readying to play Anderlecht in the Champions League.

Given Arsenal’s rich history, it was surprising at how non-ostentatious their ground was. There was a huge photo of their 2004 Premiser League championship team in the press lounge — Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Fredrik Ljundberg were front and center, with Patrick Viera and manager Arsene Wenger almost hiding in the back — but otherwise nothing. Then again, calling attention to one’s self isn’t The British Way. (Not to be confused with The Braves’ Way, of which we’ve lately heard much.)

For example: Ryan, Jones and Smith met the media in what appeared to be a greenhouse at The Grove but is, I was informed, known as “the potting shed.” It was, let’s emphasize, a very nice potting shed. But it was quaint in a way the grandiose NFL almost never is.



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Reader Comments 0

43 comments
TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I keep hearing this thing about the "Falcons have no real Identity" etc. Well, I believe we've solved that problem. The fact that this team always maintains we'll never sign the Richie Incognito types or Dez Bryant types or Michael Sams of the world tells me we DO have a clear identity:

The Atlanta Falcons are the Vanderbilt of the NFL - a team that accepts the fact that they are going to lose a majority of their games but at least will do it in a classy manner! That's why other teams view us as soft and this is our true identity around the NFL.

Go Vanderbilt Go!!

bigeasy830
bigeasy830

The Falcons will win Sunday and make the playoffs at 8-8 or 9-7.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

And monkeys will fly out of my .... Well, you know.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well from a Falcon's point of view how is this a home game ?  Seems the NFL did them wrong, but who's fault they can't win on the road ?


That baloney being on TV in the preseason and in camp had to be a distraction, as the Falcon's look TERRIBLE !

alexander2
alexander2

What a waste of money and time...

stripesofzebra
stripesofzebra

The Braves Way = Mead.E.Ocre as in lacking the ability to go for the throat = losses in big games = wait a minute, the Falcons appear to be doing the same things (noted that they are losing in all games now though) = Hawks = Thrashers (wait, strike that, they left) = holy crap this city has a lot of work to do.

Mflowers80
Mflowers80

They Need To Teach The Falcons How To Win Football Games In London Why Not Move To London We Need A Team In Atlanta That Can Win.

Melvin Flowers

Macon Ga.

GT71
GT71

Can we just leave them there and bring back a plane load of English beer and maybe a competent 'football' (i.e soccer) team as a replacement?  I mean soccer, boring as it is, is better than the Falcons.

96JB
96JB

Might as well enjoy the trip. In another two months at 4-12, there will be lot's of job openings with this organization. There will be many fingers pointed, but watching the Ravens game, This team " knows" it lacks the Chemistry and talent to win and the total lack of " confidence" was there. What retread will they bring in to save them, as ALL new NFL Head coach's are usually retreads, As Mike Smith will be where ever he goes.

tyger
tyger

What's wrong with this picture?


2012 Draft: Konz, Holmes, Ewing, Massaquoi, Mitchelll...

2013 Draft: Trufant, Alford, Goodman, Toilolo, Maponga...


2012-2013 Pro Bowlers: Former/Current

DeCoud, Moore, Abraham, Turner, Grimes, White, Jones, Ryan, Samuel


2014-2015 Pro Bowlers: N/A, zero, none, zilch, nada


2012  Salary:  $117.2M   Record 12-4

2013  Salary:  $118.4M   Record  4-12

2014  Salary:  $132.7M   Record  2-5


Falcons pseudoscience has led to damnation...

Cult belief in false prophecy of 10 Yards Away ... 

Led to misconceived faith in demi-gods...


As usual, they took the money and ran....


TreeRollins
TreeRollins

What a collection of mutts and misfits this team is! Yet we're too classy to go get Richie Incognito - what a joke!!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I'm glad they're chuckling and having fun now - prior to their 40-12 beat down they will experience on Sunday. But news flash - Steven Jackson will have some powerful 2 yard runs on the way to his 11 runs for 27 yard outing this week. Matt Ryan will get sacked 5 times and Julio will drop 2 passes. Those are my predictions this week.

Next week we'll pick up 2 new Jaguar rejects off the waiver wire to make Mike Smith feel better. Oh, and Antone will have one 51 yard carry in his 4 touches, and Arthur will run to the sidelines to sniff every jock in sight in the 2nd half. That about sums it up!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

And hair gel boy will wear his glorious bright pink shirt while skipping alongside Arthur insisting he is not light in his loafers "I'm tough Arthur - in spite of how I look!".

SECFactFinder
SECFactFinder

I realize the Offensive Line has taken some major hits the last two years, but the one area that continues to disappoint and not play at the level necessary to win a division is the Defensive Backs.  As a group they are just not playing at the level the elite teams play the pass.  This in my very weak mind has been the issue for the last three years and the playoff game two years ago illustrated how porous the secondary is.


Wishing them the best but with the OL at its weakest and the DB's playing poorly I can see this team beating some weak sisters in the division but they will have a hard time competing with the elite teams in the conference.

gfw
gfw

@SECFactFinder Is this a stretch?:  Aside from Ryan, Julio and three of the four RBs, everyone on the team is playing sub-NFL-average.

stripesofzebra
stripesofzebra

@SECFactFinder How long do you expect a DB to cover a receiver?  There is absolutely NO pass rush so the opposing QB can sit back there for a spot of tea and still not get touched.

dputman
dputman

@SECFactFinder Totally agree with you about the OL - what a mess and it will be a miracle if Matt Ryan makes it through the rest of the season vertical - but it's hard to dog the DB's when the Falcons have virtually no pass rush to speak of - 7 sacks through 7 games is 28th out of 32 teams and just plain lame - the DB's can't cover receivers all day, nobody can

zuzu331
zuzu331

Look,Im as big a Fan as anyone on here. Been one for years,but this is an example of whats got me just mad as Hell. I really dont care about their tourist exploits when they refuse to take the simple steps neccesary to win a game or two. I could care less If Julio's fish n chips are soggy and what sights everyone's seeing,lets at least TRY and keep Matt Ryan up and healthy. Detroit's DL is no joke and theres blood in the water. Someone else on here said it,its like these guys are trying to get fired. Nero fiddled while Rome burned...

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

The Cheerleaders also made the trip.  Pretty Coool !!

tmc
tmc

"For a team that has lost three in a row and looked horrid in so doing..."


ummm, you might want to fact check a little better. The Falcons have lost 4 IN A ROW!


i know it's a small thing, but it doesn't paint the proper picture. This team and coaching staff are in trouble.

RangeRover
RangeRover

@tmc

Just amazing how unprepared are the AJC sports writers.  Furman Bisher never made such careless blunders.

Gman84
Gman84

@tmc 

They got the "looked horrible in so doing...." part right.

Will be 5 games ater Sunday. Will set back whatever NFL fever there was in London by several years after they see what we've been seeing

Wilbo
Wilbo

@RangeRover @tmc Brat Lee and Schultzie couldn't write for a junior high paper. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is the absolute dregs of "journalism" and has been so for a very long time.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Good job, Brat Lee!


Maybe you got a future as a travel writer since you clearly ain't cutting it as a sportsblogger!


This is supremely less boring and pointless than your usual drivel.


And why haven't you given some credit to Tim Hudson, yet? Guy luckily escaped from the pathetic Braves franchise, and thereby has an opportunity to shine in the postseason. I'm pulling for him all the way.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Falcons practicing at Arsenal's facilities.

Freaking poetic.

As Jose would say......"Specialist(s) at losing". :(

JSSN
JSSN

@CuelDog @BigCrimson75

London futbol pissing contest breaking out on an AJC Falcons blog! The most entertainment in years on this train wreck!

Reid Davis
Reid Davis

NB: Hotspur Way in Enfield, the newish training facility for Tottenham Hotspur, Ars*nal's sworn local rival, is one of the nicest around. Which, of course, hasn't yet gotten the club much of anything in terms of results. (Spurs supporter talking here, which means that the Falcons are now dead to me for fraternizing with the Scum.)

Ersatz
Ersatz

@Reid Davis At least Blank's soccer team hired a former Spurs exec as President.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

2004 Arsenal - the Invincibles  Didn't lose a league game. Bergkamp, Henry, Viera, Sol Campbell and Robert Pires - now that is what I call a line up.

Henry wore the same number as I did - for the same reason.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@BigCrimson75 @PaulinNH 

The word "special" can have several different meanings.

Would ManU be the ""Chosen Ones".

EbertsGhost
EbertsGhost

Head to Hogwarts and get some help! It may take a few wizards and a few spells to fix this team.

JackClemens
JackClemens

Bradley, I Tweeted your post, maybe ones of my 61 followers will jump on to read and comment.

JackClemens
JackClemens

I wonder if Mrs. Sprout had any mandrake growing in the potting shed.

RabunBill
RabunBill

Falcons... same old con game.