Memo to Boston: I won’t apologize for Atlanta or the Falcons

New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, left, speaks with head coach Bill Belichick, right, during an NFL football practice, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Say what you will about Bill Belichick, but he does cut a dashing figure. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

As insults go, Dan Shaughnessy’s Boston Globe missive regarding Atlanta and its sports is as mild as it gets. Indeed, I’m not sure it qualifies as insulting. His thesis: It’s hard for snooty New Englanders to get excited about a Super Bowl with the little lambsies from the A-T-L.

And you know what? For them, it probably is.

I can’t lie. Boston has a much richer history in sports — pro sports, anyway — than our city. Boston had Carl Yastrzemski and Bill Russell and Bobby Orr. If I had to name my 10 all-time favorite athletes, they’d make the list. I would, however, note that those luminaries began playing for their Beantown teams before we in Atlanta had a big-league club in those respective sports, which would make this a bit of an apples/oranges thing. But not entirely.

In the spring of 2008, this correspondent went to Boston for the sub-.500 Hawks’ playoff series — their first postseason voyage of this century; it wound up going seven games, improbably enough — and became immersed in Patriots Day and the morning Red Sox game against the Rangers at Fenway and a bit of the Boston Marathon and even the Bruins playing Game 7 of a Stanley Cup series that night in Montreal. It was, I must admit, pretty cool.

I talked to the Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon about the championship vibe in his fair city. He used the phrase “kicking ass” to describe what Boston teams were doing. These genteel Southern ears had never heard such a thing.

As for Boston itself: Great place. Been there many times. Like it a lot. Like clam chowder. I wouldn’t want to live there, but that’s only because of the weather. Personal choice.

Mr. Shaughnessy makes a big deal out of our ardor for college football, noting that the TVs in Philips Arena as the Hawks were about to face the Celtics last April were tuned to G-Day. He mentions that the ol’ AJC made a splash of the scrimmage the next day. (He didn’t mention Ludacris and the condoms, so thanks for that.) What can I say? We do like college football. We like college football more than any major city in these United States. I don’t see that as a terrible thing. To quote the Patriots’ coach: It is what it is.

I did find this part semi-amusing: That beating the tradition-less Falcons in the Super Bowl wouldn’t be as satisfying as beating the Cowboys or the Packers or the Giants. Here’s the thing: The Patriots have never beaten any of those in a Super Bowl. (They’re 0-2 against Eli Manning.) Boston’s Super triumphs have come against the Rams, who have since moved to a different town; the Panthers, who came into being in 1995; the Eagles, who haven’t won a title since 1960; and the Seahawks, who began NFL play 10 years after the Falcons. Here’s the number of Super Bowl wins for those four franchises — two.

I could get all righteous about Spygate and Deflategate, but I’m kind of gated out. I admire Bill Belichick but consider him an ass. (Blame Papelbon. He taught me that word.) I admire Tom Brady but have never warmed to him. (In my book, he’s no Bobby Orr. I loved Bobby Orr. Growing up in the hockey hotbed of Maysville, Ky., I’d listen to Bruins games on WBZ.)

If anything, I’d think New Englanders would have a sense of kinship with us Atlantans. The Sox — the team that traded Babe Ruth for cash, mind you — went from 1919 until 2004 between World Series titles. (I was there the night they broke though in St. Louis. It was fun.) They had Bucky Frickin’ Dent. We had that rat Jim Leyritz. They had Buckner’s flub. We had Levingston’s running lefty hook. (Against the Celtics, if memory serves.) We both hate the Yankees. Isn’t the enemy of my enemy my friend?

Do I like the Patriots? Nope. Do I find them insufferable in their arrogance? Absolutely. Still, they’re a team trying to win, same as every other team in every other city. I understand folks up there mightn’t feel stoked about this game, but that’s OK. Imagine how it will feel when their proud team loses to a franchise that hasn’t much of a history. Imagine seeing the alum from the Jesuit school in Chestnut Hill lift the MVP trophy. Imagine that.

(Oh, and one thing more: That playoff series Mr. Shaughnessy covered here last spring? Could have sworn the Boston team didn’t win.)

Further Falcons:

The Falcons are underdogs, but they absolutely can win.

Facing the hated Patriots, the Falcons are now America’s Team.

A Super day: Atlanta domination, Atlanta validation.

The matchup: These Falcons against Atlanta history.

The Falcons have been here before; most of these Falcons haven’t.

How the soaring Falcons rebuilt on the fly.

ESPN: The 49ers will offer Kyle Shanahan their head coaching job.

In Aaron Rodgers, the Falcons will be facing the NFL’s Michael Jordan.

(Gulp) Here comes Aaron Rodgers. But the Falcons will still win.

If I’m the Falcons, I’m rooting for Dallas. (Yes, Dallas.)

The ascendant Falcons make short work of Seattle.

Don’t fret over these Falcons: They’re too good to flop.

Reviewing October’s epic Falcons-Seahawks game.

Reader Comments 0

63 comments
eagleman1990
eagleman1990

Why get upset about this kind of crap from Shaunassey? It's a great matchup between the the two hottest teams in the NFL. Should be a great Super Bowl. Boston is an American treasure as is Atlanta. Can't wait for kickoff. Go Falcons!

dawg4u
dawg4u

Fine column Mark. I read the article online Boston Globe and even replied to it via e-mail in a way taking him to task. I hope the Patriots have the same attitude about the Falcons that Shaughnessy does because it would make our task not as difficult.  I guess you just have to have lived here to understand the love for college football. He'll never get that. 

ajd1234
ajd1234

As a Bostonian living in ATL, I think the point is we don't hate the Falcons like we do those other teams. If we win, beating ATL won't be as much fun as beating other teams that we have hated for a long time, especially any team from  NY. 


Mentioning the GOAT Bobby Orr proves Mark Bradley knows his stuff!

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

One of the best things I've ever had the pleasure of reading from you. Excellent. That point about how Boston could have been expected to view Atlanta with solidarity is a stroke of brilliance. 

But one little question. What did you mean here? 

"He used the phrase “kicking a##” to describe what Boston teams were doing. These genteel Southern ears had never heard such a thing."

Surely you had heard that phrase before, or did I miss your meaning entirely? 

Len1976
Len1976

To Mark Bradley: Excellent piece. Dan Shaughnessy is an arrogant, overbearing, Liberal (and notorious Belichick,Patriots and Trump hater) from the nearly defunct Boston Globe. He is an embarrassment to most other Holy Cross grads. I'm a Patriot fan. I live in the Boston area. But I too am tired of his "anti-college-football-my-number2-doesn't-stink" arrogance! It's just like him to ridicule a good franchise like the Falcons and a city like Atlanta. Most people up hear loath him. So please don't paint all of us up here with a broad brush. I grew up in Boston's south shore, attended college at GSU in Atlanta and am a huge college football fan. I was a BC season ticket holder for many years and saw every game Matt Ryan played. You guys have a real Pro in Ryan. Atlanta is a fine city. Go Tech. Go Dawgs and Go Panthers. Good luck! (* but just not on the Sunday after next!)

dawg4u
dawg4u

@Len1976 Thanks and btw does Bob Ryan still write for the Globe or is he retired?

Len1976
Len1976

@dawg4u @Len1976  I haven't read the Globe in about ten years at least but I believe he retired from that rag around 2012. The Globe was a good paper at one time but now is more like Pravda.  I know Bob was doing ... or is doing the "Around the Horn " show on espn.  Bob will be torn in this SB. He loves the Pats but is a BC grad and I'm sure has some loyalty to Matt Ryan as a result. I miss Bob's columns, especially his Celtics coverage.

dawg4u
dawg4u

@Len1976 @dawg4u Yep I used to read his columns about the Celtics back when the rivalry with the Lakers seemed to be every season for the NBA CS.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Judging from what I read from Patriot's fans on the blog they don't seem to fit the profile that Bradley has tried to create for them. Of course they are snooty and arrogant. The Pats have been dominant for years, so why wouldn't they be? Whatever New Englanders think of the South is their opinion. They don't like us? Good! Let them stay in New England. Whatever they think, whoever they think they are, is overshadowed by...the Kennedys. No need to elaborate. The Kennedy deeds and infamy are well documented in the annals of history. Their history vs. our history, given the choice of where I would like to live....I'll take the South every time.

K M
K M

To the fine people of Atlanta, DO NOT for one moment think that Mr. Shaughnessy's column represents the thoughts of true Patriots fans. His nickname is not "Shank" for nothing. He is a red-headed fool with a shtick. His shtick is to "stir the pot".  Google "Controversial Dan Shaughnessy Articles" and a laundry list will appear. Most real sports fans in Boston can't stand him and you can count me in that category.


Real Pats fans are extremely nervous about this Super Bowl. We have watched the Falcons offense carve through the NFL like a hot knife through butter. We want this one so Brady can get his revenge on Goodell. It would be the storybook ending to the season. However If we lose, we'll tip our caps and be happy for our ex-Pats and B.C. guy. Dimitroff, Pioli & Ryan will have earned it. It will be like when the Bruins lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup finals in 2013. While we were bummed that the Bruins did not win, the consensus was that if we had to lose to a Western team, it would be the Blackhawks. The cities are similar and there are a lot of Blackhawks fans in Boston. Should the Pats lose to the Falcons I can see the feeling being the same with all the connections between the two teams. Good Luck. Here's to a great game!

Gabe Kaplan
Gabe Kaplan

@K M I'm from Beantown and agree 100% that Shaughnessy is an A**.  You guys have had a great year and deserve the trip to Houston.  This should be a great game.  Most NE fans just want to see Goodell have to hand over the Lombardi to Brady. We feel he got screwed.  And no one will ever know the truth; so let's not argue it.  I also have a lot of friends in ATL (Delta) that are rooting for the birds.  Good luck to both teams.  It should be a high scoring, slugfest.  Bring it on!

Dan Gillette
Dan Gillette

No one up in Boston can stand Shaughnessy either.

David Mark Belcher
David Mark Belcher

As a "Bostonian" who has also travelled the country but has not visited Atlanta, please do not think that Dan Shaughnessy speaks for the rest of us.  We do not have anything against Atlanta.  In fact, we don't think of Atlanta much.  New York, Baltimore, Pittsburgh...yeah.  We have good memories of Matt Ryan and if he wasn't playing the Pats we would likely be cheering for him.  Shaughnessy has strong opinions and even a contentious history with the Patriots, but not my favorite sports writer.

E983
E983

As the Adolph Rupp quote goes, "That's why we play the game." and the NBC news anchor, the late Linda Ellerby would close her news cast, "And so it goes." while we wait another 12 days for an exciting game. I could care less what some idiot in a Boston newspaper blogs. I enjoy the AJC. Thanks Mark.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

Faith and Begorrah! Dan Shaughnessy disses the Falcons and the south in general.


Dan Shaugnessy.  A Boston mucker with a face like a catcher's mitt and a haircut better suited for a Chia pet.


The Pats are the truth.  The Yankees of the NFL. The Birds ain't pikers themselves.


Here's hoping for a good game.



John Greene 642
John Greene 642

Shaughnessy is a Jack A$$!! I'm from Boston and can't stand his arrogance! I have nothing but respect for the Falcons and the city of Atlanta. The Falcons are playing great and will present a huge test for New England, such a versatile and high powered offense! Mattt Ryan deserves the MVP award (although if Brady played the entire season I might think otherwise) and your owner is committed to building a winning franchise. 

TOMBOSTICK
TOMBOSTICK

What has the Boston press said about the Patriot's owner being sloppy drunk doing the trophy presentation? He could barely speak or be understood during the interview. Thankfully the Falcons have an owner with "class" and one that will always make Atlanta and the State of Georgia proud!

Allenman
Allenman

As for kinship between Atlanta and Boston, you forgot to mention the Atlanta Braves got their start in Boston as the Boston Braves before moving to Milwaukee before moving to Atlanta.

Msgray
Msgray

@Allenman well..


Now the Braves have gone to Smyrna. ...They are now the Smyrna Braves

T-Rex57
T-Rex57

It's interesting that Atlanta's attendance percentage for 2016 is higher than New England's.

Dan Gillette
Dan Gillette

@Terry191 must be over 100 then because Patriots have sold out every game since the mid-90s

T-Rex57
T-Rex57

According to ESPN NFL Attendance, New England 97.2%. Atlanta 98.2%

EricJ770
EricJ770

Good piece, Mark. Shaughnessy’s smugness is off the charts, but this guy's not 100% wrong in his points (sorry, Atlanta, but the city's national rep for pro-sports apathy has at least some validity). 


I've been here for 15 years now and will always remember being handed four tickets to the 2003 NLDS (Braves vs. Cubs) at my office at the time, simply because, "No one else wants them." I sold two seats to Cubs' fans who made the trek from Chicago. That was because I couldn’t find two other locals willing to go, and the Chicago guys couldn't get tickets to the Wrigley games. Such a scenario simply doesn’t happen in many other pro-sports cities.


All that said, other parts of Shaughnessy’s pompous column have me now rooting even harder for the Falcons to stomp this team.

swell4
swell4

Great Article Mark!

starboy
starboy

I am currently living in Maine, where I was born.  However, I grew up in Atlanta, where I lived for over 20 years (most of my life).  One could say that I'm from both areas.  Fantastic city, Atlanta, where I graduated from college.  Wonderful memories and I've nothing but positive things to say about Matt Ryan and the 'Birds.


Frankly, Arthur Blank's team deserves to win - it will be great for Atlanta and professional football as a whole.  Furthermore, I think the Dirty Birds will indeed take this one - I'm predicting a 35-31 Atlanta victory.  Ryan deserves the MVP this year and the Falcons have been "under the radar," and deserve nothing but respect.  Brady is arguably the best of all time and I personally have nothing but admiration to give him.  However, he has had his time - as things appear, the Falcons are rapidly approaching their time.  


Great column, Mark - ignore Shaughnessy, please.  He doesn't speak for folks in these parts and he certainly doesn't speak for me.  As an unbiased observer, I can honestly say that people here are more than nervous about this game, after seeing Ryan dismantle Rodgers' pack.  And as well we should be nervous - Atlanta deserves everything coming to them, which I think (and hope) will soon include the Vince Lombardi Trophy.  


Thanks for reading and on a lighter note:  Can y'all please send more Chick-Fil-A franchises our way?  Miss that place!  :)

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Hey. If Trump can beat Hillary, then the Falcons can beat the Patriots. It has not been a good year for arrogant, smug, elitist, condescending, and insulting establishment types - who live on the east and left coasts in big population centers. Turns out there are millions and millions of rubes out there between the east coast and left coast - and a whole gosh darned gaggles of them down south. Who knew? And all of them, bless their little hearts, stupid enough to think they could win, and can win. All of this is fun, but this is also why they have the actual elections and actually play the games. So we'll see. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

New Englanders posting on the blog are quietly confident and respectful. There's a lot to be learned from them. They don't have to try to outshout anyone to get attention they are the attention. They have survived "Deflategate", "Spygate" and all of the "...'gates" that have been thrown at them, and not to forget the Kennedys. It's strange that, even being so far away, I found myself pulling for them to make the big game. I pulled for Boston to win the World Series. If you want to be the best and be in their class, you have to beat the best. Belichick, Brady, and cast, are the best. Even if they lose they will still be the best.....except for one game. The Falcons won't become a "New England" by winning one big game....but it could be the beginning. I'm from Alabama where the attitude is much the same as New England......you can't hope to win you have to expect to win. Win or lose, the day after the Super Bowl, NE will start preparing for the new season....it never stops with champions. One thing remains the same.....When you lose don't lose the lesson.

Joe McCusker
Joe McCusker

The ’98 Falcons were known as the Dirty Birds. Our present team of young players needs its own nickname. I propose the New Millennium Falcons. Our squad of millennials will be like young Jedi rebelling against the Evil Empire. 

Nell Anvoid
Nell Anvoid

Pats fan and native Bostonian here,


Please...please...do not conflate Shaughnessy's silly and arrogant writing with the thoughts and attitudes of most of us up here. Just ask any New Englander who follows the NFL. We ARE excited for this game...and pretty damn nervous about it too. You will hear nothing but respect for the Falcons and Matty Ice...and we know it's for good reason.  That's one scary good football team with a QB who richly deserves the MVP award.  Moreover, the idea that Atlanta "lacks" a tradition is ripe for irony... especially if the Falcons win.


Ignore any ugly stuff coming from the Boston media. Those guys don't speak for us.

Classof98
Classof98

@Nell Anvoid  Good comment.  Shaughnessy also misses what every other announcer who talks about Falcons' opponents "traveling well" whenever there are lots of them in the Dome, and that is that Atlanta is a city of transplants.  Six million people may live here, but 5,500,000 came from somewhere else.  Those fans did not "travel", they live five miles away. New Englanders have typically been there a while... for generations.

GTroller
GTroller

The Boston media is 100% correct. Atlanta has forever been a terrible sports town. The only thing we care about is college football--- mostly the University of Georgia.

There's just a bunch of bandwagon fans this year. The Falcons will go back to irrelevancy after New England exposes these pretenders.

Then it will be signing day for the University of Georgia and we will return to reality and their march towards a national championship and college football dynasty

TideDawg
TideDawg

@GTroller I disagree with the 100% correct Boston media. Atlanta is not a terrible sports town. Atlanta has great fans and they have suffered from terrible management of sports teams. The city of Atlanta stands alone and is independent from it's sports teams. What was New England before Belichick, what was Boston for many years before they won a WS? They're back now. The difference is Atlanta has "never been", but they are working on it. Step one....Feb. 5th!!

bills68
bills68

@ GTroller---Ha!!---you get the prize for mindless blather-- dream on !

Kevin Lenihan
Kevin Lenihan

No one up here...no one...listens to Shaughnessy. His whole shtick is trying to get attention by poking people. If it wasn't for the liberal Globe, he'd have no job here. Trust me, people here respect the Falcons. Obviously we also respect the Braves. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

In the first Super Bowl won by Green Bay, Lombardi was asked after the game if the AFC team was a good team. His reply "No, they were not a good team". Representing Atlanta, representing the South, I hope that won't be said about the Falcons.

TideDawg
TideDawg

I love a team that's arrogant, as long as they don't promote it, exploit it, or they are disrespectful dealing with it. Silent arrogance is much more effective than mindless boasting. You can see it in any championship organization. Their attitude is "You come here to take us down....good luck with that" then they kick your butt and smile. Atlanta is new to the world of title games. I'd like to see them go into the game with a bit of arrogance and with the attitude "Yeah!, we're here to take you down, Big Boy, it's going to take your best game to stay with us". "Rise Up"...I hate that phrase. It is more fitting if they were taking to the streets protesting something they didn't like. I also hate "Dirty Birds", it implies something less than class. In New England, my guess is they see Atlanta as a rag tag team from the South trying to boast their way into a Championship. NE is a class organization that doesn't need slogans to promote their success. They are who they are. "Walk softly and carry a big stick"....a time worn slogan, but it fits a championship demeanor.

Kevin Lenihan
Kevin Lenihan

@TideDawg Actually, we've watched the games, so we respect ATL completely. Should be a game that comes down to the wire.

Jack Sparrow
Jack Sparrow

Let's just go beat their A$$ and then enough said!

Classof98
Classof98

Good column, Mark. Is it National Signing Day yet?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTroller

QUIET, jerk!

You're just sulking because your imbecile prediction failed to materialize. DUH!

_______________

GTroller January 20, 2017

This will be an easy game--- for Green Bay:  GB 38 ATL 17.  Falcons are a poor football program . . . .

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

For the Falcons, you want to be the best you go beat the best, just like you took care of Seattle and the Pack. The Pats are the best team left standing outside of Atlanta. This isn't about arrogance or payback for deflated footballs or spying on the Jets or Boston snobs sneering at Atlanta, it's about beating a darned good football team on the field and earning the championship rewards and accompanying respect. The Pats football team the Falcons will face is not a bunch of arrogant cheating snobs, they are football players and coaches who are pretty darned good at what they do on the field. Go beat them.

Fayettedawg
Fayettedawg

Awesome Mr. Bradley!. I read that Boston guy's article. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.... has there been another city with such arrogance??? He also made it seem like it was a done deal the Pats would win... Gonna be so funny when the Birds bring home the Ship and we have the parade up and down PEACHTREE ST... I'm glad he mentioned Peachtree in his article, he'll know exactly where to find the parade route. Yes we love College Football... But we love the pro teams as well.. Would the people of Boston be so supportive if NONE of their teams won a championship... I think it's easy to support all the teams in the City when you know at least one of them will end up winning a title soon... They can't relate to our struggle. 

dawg4u
dawg4u

@Kevin Lenihan @Fayettedawg I have a friend who lives here who is from Gloucester and he said the same thing and that a lot of Patriot's staff didn't like or agree with him either.

Bug
Bug

The question is? Who give a flip what the Yankees think.

We are talking about people who would rather look at Clintons ugly face.

GTroller
GTroller

Can you blame New England for not being very excited about playing the Falcons?

Classof98
Classof98

@GTroller  They can do whatever they want as long as they stay there and stop moving here.

dawg4u
dawg4u

@GTroller The Patriots are a very well run professional organization that has been very successful as proven by their playoff record. They didn't get that way by "not being very excited" about playing whoever their SB opponent is.