Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Atlanta Falcons' "Rise Up" byword is a attribute of the alliance that trickles through the absolute franchise, writes Allison Glock.
You feel it the additional you footfall into the Mercedes-Benz Stadium: THE EMBRACE. A avant-garde southern acceptable of "hey y'alls," attainable grins, "pardon me's," catch on the shoulder, "thank you for coming, honey's." The catching amplitude and attainable carousal of the Falcons authorization and their home burghal of Atlanta, a burghal coined "too active to hate."
Long a ambush for Southerners who craved added than their baby towns could offer, but who were afraid to leave the region, Atlanta exudes a attenuate aggregate of down-home accommodation and accelerating mindset, a burghal on the move, yet still rooted, blubbery with history alike as it becomes anytime added actually the centermost of hip-hop, "Y'allywood," beginning tech and countless added harbingers of a bright, diverse, optimistic approaching like the affectionate you see on "Star Trek" and in Target commercials. (Underscoring this, the new Falcons stadium, a space-age curiosity of calibration and engineering, is appointed LEED Platinum, scoring the accomplished sustainability marks of any sports ability in the world.)
Atlanta has both amenities and swag to spare, a vibe that is absolute abundant present at every Falcons home bold where, aloof above-mentioned to bang off, notable badass, Morehouse alum and above Falcons concessions bagman Samuel L. Jackson appears on the assorted jumbotrons ambit the arena, his face arising from a billow of red smoke, asking, "Can you apprehend it, Atlanta? It's the complete that unifies us. The complete that defines us. The alarm of our family.
"They will apperceive us by our adamantine bond, and the ability of our spirit!" he goes on, soul-deep, bellowing the curve as if from the mount. "Show me what's in your heart!"
The army woots and yelps as Jackson continues preaching, assorted added Atliens (Lil Jon and Zac Brown amid them) authoritative onscreen cameos during which they batter a balled anchor adjoin their chest, a clap BOOM BOOM ricocheting throughout the immense arena. Jackson crescendos, asking, demanding, afresh and again, "What do Falcons do?" afterwards which every fan hollers, louder and louder, "Rise up! RISE up! RISE UP!"
The slogan, in use back 2010, is evidently simple, yet the two words act as nesting dolls of meaning. They arm-twist fight, rights, revolution, church. These canicule the words beat with beginning profundity, a ambulatory cry that suggests both the botheration and the solution. Acceleration up is a command. Acceleration up is additionally an exaltation. It marries the angelic and the profane, which is about as acceptable a analogue of the bold of football as one could hope.
The NFL is not accepting a abundant time of late. There are abundant affidavit for this, abounding of the wounds self-inflicted, others artlessly the certain fractures and amusement that appear from a ability on the move, boring its behemoth touchstones abaft like so abounding cans on a newlywed car bumper. Depending on whom you ask, the alliance is either too political or not political enough, a hot anachronistic blend of patriarchal, acreage mentality or the aftermost breastwork of all that is acceptable and appropriate in America. In the end, behindhand of area your opinions fall, left, appropriate or center, few association assume to be accepting as abundant fun anymore, evidently accommodated to beat to our abstracted corners, hissing like possums. Which is why the Atlanta Falcons are, added than ever, the aggregation America needs appropriate now.
Take abandoned ballerina and all-around mensch Arthur Blank, the Falcons' buyer back 2002, who has said about that he wants not aloof the best football players on his team, but ones who will accomplish him proud, article he has acutely accomplished with high-performing boy scouts Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Vic Beasley (players able-bodied accepted for their bashfulness and arctic off the acreage in accession to their gobsmacking achievement stats). Blank additionally took every Falcons agent -- about 300 of them -- to the (ill-fated) 2017 Super Bowl, a class-act action estimated to accept amount him a air-conditioned million. As billionaire admiral go, he's one of the "good ones." It was Blank who insisted on the ecology build. He additionally ensured the concessions at the new amphitheater would be the everyman amount of any above aggregation franchise, with beers at alone $5 and best aliment beneath than $6. Sodas, with absolute refills, are alone $2. All of which agency a ancestors advancing to an Atlanta bold can adore banquet after accepting to advertise a branch first.
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
In Brotherhood. Two of the leagues best players, Julio Jones, left, and Matt Ryan, proving nice guys don't accomplishment last.
Then there's Dan Quinn, who, clashing added arch coaches, is rarely apparent in vein-popping rages, alike back plays go pear-shaped, opting instead to empathize with and addition his players. He leads from a abode of respect, inculcates an about Oprah-esque aesthetics of gratitude. Quinn doesn't behest to his team. He listens. As bouncer Chris Chester afresh explained of Quinn's altered style, "There's a artlessness about creating a alliance amidst the players." Article on abounding affectation at amateur where, no amount what happens on the field, no amateur anytime acts like a brat. (Bratty behavior is not a value-add in the Falcons franchise.)
That appearance of alliance trickles through the absolute Falcons enterprise, the angle that anybody is in this game, life, apple together, a bequest to ancient notions of action area it was beneath a advertise for atypical vanity than a abode area the greater acceptable is accomplished by the cede and accomplishment of association alive collectively. The Falcons accept alike adopted "In Brotherhood" as a accessory slogan, one that, like "Rise Up," advisedly speaks to issues far beyond than those at comedy on the field.
It marries the angelic and the profane, which is about as acceptable a analogue of the bold of football as one could hope.
The messaging resonates. While a scattering of sports pundits accept mocked the emo, "we are family" maxim, the accuracy is the adage brings out some abundant needed, one apple Kumbaya. Few added NFL franchises accept celebrity fan bases as all-embracing as Michael B. Jordan, Jeff Foxworthy, Gucci Mane, Jimmy Carter, Donald Glover, T.I., Zac Brown, Ludacris, Keenan Thompson and Cam Newton. Falcons fans, acclaimed and otherwise, resemble the alive demographics of added America, not aloof one town, and as such, activity to a Falcons bold feels absolute altered from what I've accomplished at, say, a Jaguars or Patriots game. The army is actually multicultural, which makes for a looser and added affable experience. Not that the admirers don't affliction about the final score, they do. But watching the bold feels like a acceptable diversion, not activity or death. No one is calling the visiting teams "f----ts," for archetype (something I've heard added than already at non-Falcons games), nor are they shouting added abhorrent epithets at the home team.
Instead, bodies are convivial, administration their pizzas, their $5 beers, captivated up in the game, but not so abundant that it turns them into aggro creeps, possibly because a assorted admirers brings with it a hard-won acquaintance of what absolute life-altering stakes attending like.
When Jackson was originally pitched the abstraction of "Rise Up," what awash him was the angle of the byword as a movement, as article added than a way to advertise T-shirts. "It's affectionate of absurd to me," he said in an account with the Falcons' website. "I allocution to players about the alliance who appear [to Atlanta] to comedy and they all stop and watch the 'Rise Up' advertisement back it comes on. They say it's the best affair in the NFL."
As usual, Jackson is actually right. What's accident in Atlanta is a admonition of what's acceptable about football, about sports, about Americans. The Falcons and their sincere, ardent credo address to the bigger angels of all our natures, appearance the amount of acting appropriate and arena hard, admonish us that we are allotment of a community, not a nation of baby accouchement accession all the toys.
If you go to a Falcons game, you leave hopeful. Alike if they lose. Because for a few hours you are reminded of what America can and should be -- neighborly, proud, accessible, ambitious, well-intentioned, gracious. You feel The Embrace. You feel the promise. You accept fun. And afore you apperceive it, you rise, in brotherhood.