I walked out of my Tufts University dorm room that next morning wearing nothing but grey. I swear it looked like everyone was wearing grey that day. Even the sky was grey, no sun shone through the dark and dismal clouds overhead. To call it a dreary day would be a slap in the face to meteorologists and sports fans everywhere.
The loss the night before was all any one could talk about, as painful as it was fans still needed to get it off their chest, an ultimately useless form of therapy. There was as much sorrow as there was disbelief.
How could that have happened?
Twelve hours earlier, a baseball had rolled between Bill Buckner’s legs. It was as devastating a loss a sports fan could imagine. New York and Boston Sox still had one game left to play but every long-suffering Red Sox fan knew there was no way the Sox could pull out a win in Game Seven.
They didn’t. It was 1986. The curse of the Bambino was real.
We all know how that turned out for Boston. Eighteen years later, the Red Sox won their first championship in, ironically, 86 years. A lifetime of demons and curses was finally exorcised but that story of redemption does nothing for Atlanta today. Every Atlanta Falcons fan has to be feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, only heartbreak. Tom Brady’s victory tour makes for a long off-season.
After the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever (easy, Falcons fans), I’ve heard a lot of people talk about a curse in another city far south of Boston, ironically the fan base responsible for cementing the newest curse in sports.
The Falcons have yet to win a Super Bowl. They’ve been in two and have come away empty-handed both times. This was thought to be their best chance. The city now ponders woefully what it will take to bring that town a winner.
Atlanta’s not entirely void of championship mettle. The Atlanta Braves won their city’s lone title back in 1995. The city finally exhaled. Even by Atlanta’s standards, however, most sports fans feel those Braves teams underachieved. It took another cursed team, the Cleveland Indians, to lose to them in the only series they’ve ever won.
Sunday brought an unfathomable Super Bowl comeback, one no Falcons fans can talk about without a deep emptiness in the gut. On a clear day, you can see the dark cloud hovering over Atlanta from miles away. The wound is still fresh and bloodied. As if Falcons fans hadn’t suffered enough, the real suffering has just begun. This one is gonna leave a mark.
The Brady-led comeback is all any Monday morning quarterback could talk about. For Falcons fans, it was like reliving a bad dream over and over again except this time it was all too real. Atlanta sports radio was jammed with callers crying and cursing and most certainly second-guessing. I’m guessing liquor sales in Atlanta on Monday saw a sharp spike.
Far be it from me to compare the Falcons collapse to the Buckner debacle but if the cleat fits.
Alas, the Falcons still haven’t won a Super Bowl. The Braves are nowhere close and the Hawks are another story altogether.
The future, however, is bright for this Atlanta team. As long as they are able to escape from under that dark cloud, sometimes easier said than done, they have a solid young nucleus. The good news for Atlanta and every other team in the league is that Tom Brady turns 40 next year. That clock is starting to tick and as great as Brady is, Father Time has a better record.
So for Falcons fans today who sees nothing but doom and gloom, I’m here to talk you off that ledge. As a sports fan who has experienced debilitating losses, my advice to Atlanta fans is to embrace the curse. Own it. It will make the eventual joy of winning that much sweeter.
Just ask Cubs fans.