Musings from all members of the Thomas family, even our dog.

 

**Updated** Two Open Letters to Rob Parker

Our kids are big Falcons fans. They go to every home game, and they spend a lot of time at training camp in the summer. They have been so fortunate to meet some of the players, Mike Smith, and even Arthur Blank. 

You may have heard that ESPN’s Rob Parker wrote a scathing article about Atlanta as a sports town. You can read that hot piece of garbage here.  A & C read it and found it offensive from beginning to end. You can read A’s response, an open letter to Rob Parker, immediately below, and C’s response at the bottom.

**********

Dear Mr. Parker:

You probably remember a certain article you wrote concerning the horrible fan support of Atlanta, which you called Hotlanta. Sorry to burst your bubble, sir, but no one who lives in Atlanta or the state of Georgia calls Atlanta Hotlanta. Only outsiders call it that.

Firstly, towards the beginning of your lovely article, you mention the fact that your article has nothing to do with football. (Um, sorry, correct me if I’m wrong, but if it’s not about the sports teams, why are you writing it?) Apparently, it goes deeper than that. Oh, right. Our sports fans stink. 

You wish! (Also, if you really have to resort to picking on the fans as an excuse for why the Falcons shouldn’t be in the playoffs, I don’t know what to say to you.)

Atlanta Falcons fans are some of the best in the business. My mother, Jeanna Thomas, who may have kind of blown you up on Twitter today, is a die-hard Atlanta fan and she is from OHIO. My dad is from Wisconsin and is a Packers fan, but he even likes the Falcons. We (by we, I mean my mom and dad) spend over 120 dollars per home game on the Falcons, not to mention countless jerseys, hats, and other souvenirs along that line. Heck, our dog has his own jersey and a football toy.

But you know, how can we compete with the Giants, especially with their fresh 2007 Superbowl wins under their belts.  People are focused on the Packers with their ACTUAL recent Superbowl win.

While we’re on the topic, let’s throw in a fun fact about football—the sound of the insanely loud Falcons fans doesn’t reach the viewer at home. You have to be there to experience the enormity of noise we make. Did you know that? No? Well, now you do.

Another thing is- a lot of us here in “Hotlanta” don’t actually drink sweet tea- this is Coke country, Mr. Parker. We eat us some Chik-Fil-A, unless of course it’s Sunday. Then we’re usually at the Falcons game anyway, so we eat there. But you know, that may just be my family and the other hundreds of families that are sitting in the Georgia Dome. The rest of ‘em are just sitting on their backsides at home drinkin’ their sweet teas and eatin’ their barbecue, wondering, “Hey! I wonder if the Falcons are playin’ in Hotlanta today?”

To quote you, “pathetic.”

Most of this letter has been about how all of the Falcons fans are not rednecks. We even have toilets in our house! So now I’m going to talk about the Falcons team themselves.

The Falcons record is 10-6. We have beat enough teams to be in the playoffs. Even if you still believe that the fans are stupid, how can you still say that the Falcons don’t deserve to be there? They practice, train, sweat, and prepare for the games. Are you the one out there tackling 300-pound men? No? Then shut your mouth about who does and doesn’t deserve to go to the playoffs, and focus on simply reporting the games. 

I would love for you to watch this video- it shows, quite plainly, how basically AWESOME the Falcons (ahem…and their fans) are. Rise Up

You wrote an article talking about the fans of the Atlanta Falcons football team. You were wrong on nearly every aspect. The one thing you got right was the part about the true-blue Falcons fans. Guess what? Yeah, you’re right. There are people who claim to like the Falcons. They probably try to go to Chick-Fil-A on Sunday. 

“Hey…” They say suddenly as they reach for another drink of their Coke. “The Falcons play today, right? Or did they play yesterday?”

Those people aren’t fans. Or the people that give up in the second half. They aren’t fans, either. They can claim to be fans all they want, they’re not. I could claim to be the president of the United States. It doesn’t matter what I say—we all know I’m not Barack Obama.  Some people are at the game because they won tickets.

That’s about two percent of “fans”. The other ninety-eight percent of real fans live, breathe, sleep, and bleed Falcons. (Sorry, I exaggerated. We don’t bleed Falcons, we bleed their colors.) 

I hope I proved to you that we are truly fans. The Falcons deserve to be there. As much as I hate to say it, everyone in the playoffs deserves to be there because they beat enough teams to be there. And Falcons fans love their team. They are loud, excited, passionate, and classy. They—we—love the game and the team. We are in the playoffs. On Sunday, fans everywhere decked out in their jerseys and gear will anxiously turn on the television hours before the game, getting excited and more nervous by the moment. Eventually, we will win or lose, but no matter what the outcome, Falcons fans will be standing by, ready for the next game or the next year, because we never give up on our team. Every fan will be watching and cheering and ready to prove you wrong.

Unless, of course, they’re at Chick-Fil-A.

Ashley Thomas

**********

Dear Mr. Parker, 

I am afraid that I must confront you on your despicable article about the fanbase of our Atlanta Falcons. We are very passionate about football in our house so this in my eyes was utterly uncalled for. It would have made more sense to call out the team or the players but to make a dramatic statement you chose to do the unthinkable, call out the fans. But not just football fans, you called out the entire Atlanta sports fanbase. To quote you, Mr. Parker, I believe you called us “pathetic” and unworthy to “lukewarmly enjoy a playoff win.”

Again, I must ask you a question, why did you call out all sports, including hockey? We are a southern state so is it as “pathetic” as you think it is that we lost the Thrashers to Canada? I must ask those question because I am utterly befuddled over the state of mind you were in when you got the idea for this abomination you called an “article.”

Clearly you have not seen the emotions and the headaches that come out the Georgia Dome. You have not felt the pulsing of the crowd on game day. Or the buzzing of your ears when the game is over, or a headache that you are glad you have for the win of the game. You know not one of the things I have just described. Well, maybe you do but you have not shown it this in this manuscript. Better luck on your next article. Until next time, Mr. Parker.

Regards, 

Chelsea Thomas

Suck it up, NFL and NFLPA.

I am not remotely impressed with the breakdown of labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA. 

I was generally in support of the perspective of the players’ union until it became abundantly clear to me that they never had any intention of trying to get a deal done. 

I never supported the avarice of the owners and the league, and my worst suspicions about that group has now been confirmed as well.

Who loses in this massive fail of alleged effort toward reconciliation? I do. You do. All of us who love this game, yet are not fortunate enough (emphasis on fortunate) to play it, own a team, or be paid to be involved with it at a high level. At the end of the day, Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and the rest of the jackholes involved with this sham of a process are still millionaires, whether the players are on the field come fall racking up more millions, or sitting at home enjoying the millions they already have. I’ll be the one sitting at home waiting for my season ticket refund check, fuming and furious because there’s no football.

The players are quick to remind us of the low-level players who make the league minimum per year, which was $310,000 per year in 2010. How many typical NFL fans bring home that kind of bank each year? Give me a break. The lowest paid player in the league is paid ridiculous amounts of money from the perspective of an average American. I don’t have a problem with the amount of money the players are paid, and I want to see the players get a fair deal based on overall profit for the league. Realistically, without the players, there is no football. But, now that the legal process has been initiated, and the players union has decertified, I’m pretty much over the arrogance of everybody involved in the process.

I don’t want to hear Roddy White’s sad, sad tale of having to pay $2,600 per month for COBRA insurance. We pay almost $1,000 per month for our health insurance through my husband’s job, and to say we don’t even approach Roddy’s income is a gigantic understatement. I love Roddy, but he’s not winning anyone over by whining about money. I don’t want to hear Drew Brees say much of anything, but to insist that the NFLPA is doing everything they can for former and future players when, in reality, rookie pay scale and benefits for retired players seem to be afterthoughts, obviously second to the major issue of compensation for current players and the possibility of an 18-game season. News flash, NFL players. Your fans aren’t idiots. We understand the process. We love the game, and we support you guys, but we’re normal people with normal incomes, and our patience is waning with all the woe-is-me drama.

I used to be a huge baseball fan, back in the day. I read all of the box scores every day, and watched as many Indians games as I could. On any given day, I could have told you what was happening in each American League division, who was leading each and by how many games, as well as details about the performance of every single Tribe player. Then the players went on strike in 1994, and this lockout is bringing to the surface all of the negative feelings I developed toward the players and the leadership in Major League Baseball that prompted me to give up on the sport altogether. 

Anyone who knows me knows that my affection for football borders on the obsessive. I love NFL football. I live, eat, sleep and breathe it during the season, and it occupies a fair amount of my time throughout much of the offseason. I drive my non-football-following friends insane with my constant football talk. I don’t want to turn my back on football, but if they don’t get this thing worked out, I fear that I will not have any patience left for it.

I keep hearing these guys say that they’re working toward the best outcome for the fans, but their actions are inconsistent with their words. Their actions tell me that neither side ever had any intention of coming to a workable agreement, and that a lockout was always in the cards. It should be no surprise that any optimism I had about seeing a new CBA in place in the near future has completely disappeared.

I don’t want to see sad sack Roger Goodell insisting that they’re going to get this done for the fans anymore. I don’t want to see DeMaurice Smith walking around in his jaunty cap with his inexplicable cadre of bodyguards anymore. I don’t want to hear any more whining about Judge Doty and his bias toward the players. I don’t want to hear the NFL blaming the NFLPA anymore, and I don’t want to hear the NFLPA blaming the NFL, either. I am tired of the he said/they said ridiculousness. This is a bunch of grown men, and they need to put on their big boy pants and work this thing out, now.