However, those things will have to wait until tomorrow. Today I’m choosing to follow the crowd with my oldest son Turner in tow as we find our seats in the upper level of the Georgia Dome in what’s being touted as the biggest game in Atlanta’s history. The winner goes to a little game just across Lake Pontchartrain called the Super Bowl.
Again, there’s more to life than a football game. Who are these adults who choose to cheer while wearing a Falcons jersey like they’re a 10-year-old kid? Today, I’ll be one of them. I just hope my 10-year-old son doesn’t mind.
This isn’t the first time I’ve worn a Falcons jersey. It’s also not the first time I’ve been to a Falcons game. It’s just been 33 years since I’ve done both.
My mother bought my first Falcons jersey from Mack Skinner when he owned and operated Mack’s Sports Shop at First Tuesday Mall from 1976-1981 before selling to Reeder & McGaughey. I donned a number 10 on my jersey so I could pretend I was Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski on Sunday afternoons in my front yard. I even had a Falcons replica helmet and silver britches to look the part.
“We sold a bunch of those,” said Skinner. “My wife Phyllis and Saralyn Burchfield sewed all the numbers on the jerseys. The NFL Licensing Division forbid an exact replica so they had to sew numbers on the sleeves instead of the Falcons symbol which the actual team wore.”
This afternoon will mark my son’s first trip to the Georgia Dome. The last time I attended a Falcons game was on December 14, 1980, at the old Fulton County Stadium. My parents carried my brother Bill and me without tickets in hopes of scoring some from a scalper, which we did. We witnessed Bartkowski throw three touchdown passes as the Falcons ousted the San Francisco 49ers by the score of 35-10 to clinch their first NFC divisional title in franchise history.
Fulton County Stadium was a horrible place to watch a football game. Since the football field also served as the home of the Atlanta Braves, the fans didn’t see a solid green field like they do today. Half of the field was dirt. Nevertheless, the Falcons had some electrifying moments in the old stadium from Tim Mazzetti’s game-winning field goals to Deion Sanders’ very first punt return for a touchdown.
Last week, Carrollton High graduate and current Falcons player Josh Harris brought joy to the West Georgia area when he snapped the game winning field goal. After watching Josh snap the winning kick for Auburn’s national championship game and again last week in his inaugural NFL season, I believe his snaps are as pretty as his late grandfather Dr. Jimmy Morrow’s teeth. Morrow, of course, operated a successful dental practice in Carrollton for many years.
“I’ll never forget after Josh’s first football game with the Carrollton Eagles when he was 8 years old, he told his coach, Terry Plott, he was quitting,” said his father, John Harris. “He said football ‘is too hard.’ That led to a father and son talk about commitment. I told him it would be his choice to play when he turned 9 years old, but he had to finish that season.”
Today will be more than a football game, whether the Falcons win or lose. I’m sure some fans will go home in a sour mood if the Falcons fail to make it to the Big Easy for this year’s Super Bowl. But for John Harris and me, it’s bigger than that. We get to spend the day with our sons.
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.