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From a disgruntled fan who wants to see the city shine. Dear City of Atlanta,
Hey, it’s Joe (again). I’m sure at this point you’ve heard from plenty of other people, so you probably already know why I’m writing to you. But I still have to ask, and please don’t act coy with me this time around. Are you sure you aren’t cursed?
Does this all have something to do with you selling your soul a little to land a deal for the 1996 Olympics? It definitely seems that way. I mean, it kind of adds up seeing how you didn’t have a major sports championship for a while since the 1995 Braves World Series ring – nine months before said Olympics.
Of course we claim the Atlanta United championship. Any team that pulls up to Magic City, trophy in hand, is a true champion of the city in my eyes. We should be proud of our MLS success, but they were new to your streets, so they couldn’t fully get wrapped up in your curse.
So that brings me back to why I’m writing to you. Why must you make the people who love you watch yet another collapse? To be honest, I’ll give you credit for helping the Falcons find new and creative ways to lose games each week. It’s extremely impressive. This time around the Falcons managed to score a game-losing touchdown! Which sounds absolutely insane to say, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for this season.

The Falcons had a win probability as high as 98.7%, per ESPN’s win probability model.It was Atlanta’s 3rd loss this season with a win probability of at least 98%, the most by a team in the last 20 seasons.The rest of the NFL has 4 such losses combined this season. pic.twitter.com/EqJnds0et1— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 25, 2020

It’s also especially tough not to feel some type of way when the LA Dodgers present a constant reminder of your failures. Watching them battle for a World Series ring against the Tampa Bay Rays, it’s impossible not to think that could have been the Braves. Who of course were eliminated by blowing a 3-1 series lead against those same Dodgers in the NLCS.

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Did this specific blow have something to do with you punishing the team for running away to the ‘burbs of Cobb County? Because that’s not our fault. When the Braves moved their stadium out of the hood you just let it happen. Now inner city fans (predominantly Black) can now barely reach you. Because it’s funny that your transit system MARTA just conveniently doesn’t run to that area. Or how a 30 minute drive turns into a two-hour commute because of the clusterfuck you call highways.
I have plenty of fond memories remembering Turner field as the Braves true home. I’ll never forget my childhood days of going to games and eating Cookies ‘n Cream Dippin Dots out of a mini helmet. How could I forget the crowd’s eruption when Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” ran through the PA system because it was time for Chipper Jones to dig his cleats into the batter’s box. Now ole Larry could have come with something that slapped a lil harder than “Crazy Train,” but I digress. Or how could I forget trying to piece together the hazy memories of tailgating in the blue lot going into my adulthood.
So, Atlanta, when you turned the same stadium that Muhammad Ali once lit the Olympic Torch in into a low capacity Georgia State football stadium surrounded by plans of gentrification passed off as redevelopment — I tried to understand where you were coming from. I tried to shake it off because I thought maybe with the Braves escaping city limits, you might also let them escape your curse. Instead, you doubled down.
Look. I’m not here to remind you about all the misfortunes that you’ve been through. I’m not going to berate you about paying off historic churches, and hanging on taxpayers cash to build stadiums, or list off the countless blown leads that you’ve gifted to your faithful fans. Because me and you both know what happened, and there’s no sense of reliving anymore past pain. It just confuses me that a city with so much rich history can come up so short, so often, when it matters most.
But you know what? I forgive you. I forgive you because this pain is what us fans have sadly come to expect from you. This is nothing new. But I mainly forgive you because of everything you’ve given us outside of sports.
You birthed one of the great civil-rights leaders in Martin Luther King Jr. and opened your arms to the late John Lewis. You protected one of hip-hop’s most exceptional groups in OutKast as they repped you at every turn, and kicked down the doors for other ATLien rappers to follow in their path as they screamed the south got something to say. You let a pharmacist who was bold enough to mix cocaine with fruit flavors create one of the most popular sodas worldwide. You are the birthplace of Waffle House, a restaurant that I’ve been to many times and ordered the same thing but never paid the same price, because each time is a unique experience.
What I’m getting at, essentially, is that you’re special. You’re a city rich with diversity, culture and filled with legends. But you’re not a city of winners — at least, not yet. I’m proud to call this place home, and would be hard pressed to give up everything you’ve given to me and the world in exchange for some championship rings and lobster rolls. But it’s extremely hard not to hide my face when you embarrass yourself on the largest stage. So all I ask is that you maybe consider not cursing your sports teams, because you have a city full of people ready to scream your name from the mountain tops when the time comes. And I’m hoping that’s sooner rather than later.
Much love,
Joe Ali

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How is this possible? DK Metcalf is not human. I know that’s a bold statement which requires evidence, so I humbly submit this to the court.

DK Metcalf is the fastest man alive pic.twitter.com/9VhcgETEDx— Jac Collinsworth (@JacCollinsworth) October 26, 2020

Keep in mind everything that happens on this one play alone. Russell Wilson throws a pick to Budda Baker on the goal line, who basically has to just run in a straight line to score a touchdown. Baker is not a slow player by any stretch of the imagination, and he’s one of the best safeties in the NFL.
Now, Metcalf on the other hand has a lot more to do. He was running a route which put him around the middle of the formation, a good 8-10 yards from where Baker catches the ball. At this point he reacts to the interception, takes off running, needs to travel diagonally to make up the space between the two players — and then manages to make the tackle at the 5-yard line.
This is impressive enough on its own without pointing out that Metcalf is 35 pounds heavier than Baker. How is this possible? I have one idea:
DK Metcalf is not human.
I ask you this, dear reader, has anyone seen Metcalf and a marble statue of a Greek god in the same place? I think not. I believe Metcalf is actually the physical embodiment of Hermes, the quick-footed messenger of the gods.
That’s really the only explanation I have.
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Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A player scoring to lose their team the game? That’s very, very Falcons I think the best thing about Todd Gurley’s mistake is that you can see that he knows he’s making it. When an athlete does the wrong thing or makes a bad decision we like to call it a ‘mental error,’ and probably Gurley’s mistake was such an error. A drop in focus, a failure to properly consider the situation beforehand, a lapse of judgement. A whatever.
By the time he actually made his fatal stumble into the end zone, however, you could no longer call it a mental mistake. Gurley’s brain had figured out what was going on and was fighting hard against both his downhill instinct and years of training. Outnumbered, it lost, and Gurley and the Atlanta Falcons fell into a game-losing touchdown:

Todd Gurley tried to stop from scoring to run the clock out, but couldn’t hold up.The Lions scored the game-winning TD with 0 seconds on the clock.(via @NFL)pic.twitter.com/fHzvijXR4m— ESPN (@espn) October 25, 2020

Football is uniquely and wonderfully broken. Sure, several other sports get weird and ragged once you zoom too closely into the rules, but by and large that weirdness is about officiating the game rather than the game itself. Not so with football. The intricate balance of points, possession, clock and field position, combined with the discrete nature of play and tiered scoring, turns up chaotic, game-breaking edge conditions.
This was one of those edge conditions. In the closing minutes of their game against the Detroit Lions, down 16-14, the Falcons had things well in hand. They were inside field goal range and in control of the ball. All they had to do was to keep things moving, burn off some clock and then kick a game-winner. Simple.
What they did not want to do was score a touchdown. Despite a successful two-point conversion to put the Falcons up 22-16, doing so gave the ball back to the Lions with just enough time for Matt Stafford to drive down the field and score themselves, handing Detroit a win and the Falcons a loss which would be far more implausible if it hadn’t happened to, well, the Falcons, who’ve made a habit of blowing games in hilarious fashion.
This little problem is what Gurley was working out in real time as he busted through first the gap the Lions had left and then Will Harris’ attempted tackle. The solution comes to him only after he’s failed the test, shifting his weight just far forward enough that he can’t hit the turf before the ball crosses the plane. It’s a tragic little vignette which could only happen in a game where the rules are tuned juuuuuuust a little bit wrong. (Or right, if you like the idea of teams trying not to score, which in fairness, I do.)
When something like this happens in other sports — the best example I can think of is when an international soccer game between Barbados and Grenada devolved into chaos — it’s because some committee somewhere bolted on an ill-considered rule to the rest of the game. For them, it’s a passing problem.
For football, the disease is endemic, baked into its soul. The delicate structure of the sport, the one that slathers the endless permutations of strategy over of brutal violence to give us one of modernity’s most curiously watchable spectacles, can only function as normal if, sometimes, it sacrifices Todd Gurley and the Falcons to its fiendish metagame.
Lovely, isn’t it?
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