With the NFC South on the line, the between rivalry between the Saints and Failcons is set to explode tonight when two NFL Super Powers unleash their arsenals against each other in a battle for the Division Title and 3rd Seed in the Playoffs.
NFC South Supremecy bragging rights aren't all that's at stake. Once genteelly called the "Dixie Championship" and later the "Southern Showdown" the each game has become Grudge Match to avenge 44 years of past wrongs and previous slights. Each and every time the two teams meet writes a new chapter in the ongoing feud and expands the "What We Hate About You List."
Make no mistake, it's not just the fans--both teams genuinely HATE each other as well. Like poison.
"We know we don't like each other," Failcon RB Michael Turner said. "We've been fighting each other since 2008 for this division. It's a rivalry game."
Before Drew Brees came here in '06 he didn't know there even was a Saints-Falcons rivalry, but he learned, quickly. "If you're just kind of walking around town, fans say, 'If you do one thing this year, just beat Atlanta,' " Brees said.
The Who Dat Nation has a long list of nicknames for their most-hated opponent: Failcans, Falcant's, Felons, Foulcans, Falcoons, Dirty Turds, and then some that can't be mentioned in polite circles. What's the best the collective Dirty Bird consciousness can do? Insist on still calling us "The Aints," a left-over from the bad ole days B.D.B. (Before Drew Brees.) This shining example of Failcon ingenuity proves they can't even come up with an original derogatory term for us; WE invented the nickname in 1980 when 14 consecutive losses spurred fans to wear paper bags on their heads at games.
Well Failcons, the Who Dat Nation has a LONG memory, too. Here are some lowlights of Failcon history that we fondly remember about you.
1. A Tradition of More Clowns than Ringling Brothers. What do you expect from a team that plays its home games under a circus tent? The ridiculous Dirty Bird dance, for starters. The Failcons have a long history of players and coaches who elevated outlandish NFL antics to new levels as well as a list of absurd celebrities drawn into their ridiculous orbit. Sanders took NFL showboating to new heights as he high-stepped his way into the endzone to perform his trademark silly TD dance celebrations. Sanders immortalized the do-rag and even put one on his bust at the end of his Hall of Fame speech. A firm believer in letting your alter-ego do your trash-talking, Sanders' "Prime Time" persona became the template for the Ochocinco's of today. He even recorded a rap album of the same name in '94 on his good buddy MC Hammer's Bust It Records, which brings us to the unspeakable torture the Saints endured playing to continuous loops of "Too Legit to Quit" in the old Fulton County Stadium and the indelible image of metallic harem pants on an NFL sideline.
Sanders' Head Coach, Jerry Glanville, personified Failcon "Class." Dressed head-to-toe in black, Glanville routinely left Will-Call tickets for Elvis and drove replicas of James Dean's cars. The Father of the "Run-n-Gun" disapproved of the drinking of the Failcons' 2nd Round Draft pick in '91, and vowed it would "take a plane crash" to ever put him in a game. True to his word, Glanville allowed Rookie Brett Favre to throw only four passes that year before booting him off the team.
Then there's the Failcons' 2010 "Rise Up" campaign featuring Samuel L. Jackson. To help improve tickets sales, Jackson returns to his role as "Rev. Sultan" from the '96 film "The Great White Hype" as he preaches in front of a church choir singing refrains of the ad's title ad nauseum. Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., raised in Chattanooga, TN. and lives in Los Angeles, so what's his connection to Atlanta? Jackson attended Morehouse College in Atlanta in the late 60's, and what a career he had. In 1969, Jackson and a group of students took members of Morehouse's Board of Trustees hostage (including Martin Luther King, Sr. after Jackson was an usher at MLK, Jr.'s funeral the previous year ) demanding policy reforms. Jackson was convicted of unlawful confinement, a second-degree felony which may have gotten him expelled from Morehouse for two years but perfectly qualifies him as the ideal Failcon spokesman. Personally, I prefer the Who Dat Nation's version of "Rise Up," with an alternate ending: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=owiDfz5RXV0&feature=endscreen
Last but least: DE Kroy Biermann and his "shotgun" marriage to Real Housewives of Atlanta "star" Kim Zolciak with whom he has a baby boy named Kroy Jagger Biermann, Jr. 'Nuff said.
2. Failcon Criminal Element. As if the sordid history of dog-killer Michael Vick wasn't enough, there's the 90's saga of Andre "Bad Moon" Rison, who brought new meaning to the Failcons' "Run-n-Gun" Offense. In September '93, Rison started a shootout in a Kroger supermarket parking lot after two men tried to break up an argument between Rison and his girlfriend, the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC. When police asked why he felt compelled to shoot a grocery store, he replied "My manhood was threatened." Lopes later burned down his multi-million-dollar mansion in the Country Club of the South in Alpharetta, GA in June '94 after she set fire to a pair of his shoes in a bathtub. Years later, Bobby Hebert recounted Risen asking him for $40,000 to bail her out of jail where she was held for arson. According to Hebert, when he asked Risen why he didn't he make her bail he replied that he couldn't because "My Momma won't let me." The two remained a couple off and on until her death in 2002.
Vick and Risen aren't the only Failcon outlaws. According to the NFL Arrests Database (courtesy of The San Diego Union Tribune) Failcons have been arrested 14 times since 2003, which makes a Failcon huddle a potential parole violation for consorting with known criminals.
3. Ex-Saints/Failcon Traitors. Bobby Hebert, Morten Andersen, Craig "Ironhead" Heyward and Joe Horn were once beloved Saints, but now are forever cursed as Traitors of The Who Dat Nation for wearing Black and Red (although some are more cursed than others.) The first two were hated for their later success against us, the third just for suiting up Failcon, and the last one for his classless trashtalk about his former team. All four left under bitter circumstances to some degree. After a holding out the '92 season, QB Bobby Hebert defected to the Failcons. The first time he played against the Saints in Atlanta on Sept. 12, 1993, he joined the elite club of only 60 QBs in NFL history to achieve a perfect passer rating of 158.3 (despite losing 34-31.) Upon his return to the Superdome on Oct. 24, Hebert celebrated the Failcons 26-15 win by doing the "airplane" around the field. Hebert earned his only trip to the Pro Bowl that year.
The Saints released Kicker Morten Anderson a.k.a. "Mr. Automatic" after 13 seasons in '94 season for two stupid reasons: 1. to free-up salary cap money; and 2. perceived declining performance. When Anderson returned to the Superdome in Dec. '95, he became the first player in NFL history to kick three FGs of 50+ yards in a single game. He made the Pro-Bowl that year. After signing Anderson, the Failcons beat us the next 10 consecutive games. Anderson played seven more seasons as a Failcon.
The late Ironhead Heyward battled with then-Saints Head Coach Jim Mora mainly over his weight which hovered between 250 and 340 lbs. (at 5'11".) He left the Saints in '92 and played the '93 season with another hated foe, the Chicago yogis, before becoming a Falcon from '94-'96. Heyward was a bruising back who pancaked defenders on the field. I loved Heyward, wore his #34 jersey during his Saint years and even named a pet "Ironhead" in his honor. May he rest in peace.
Joe Horn--that's a different story. After his sincere, tireless community work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 35-year-old WR suffered a groin injury in '06 and was benched in favor of Rookie Marques Colston. After the season, the Saints asked Horn to take a pay cut; he refused. He was released and signed a 4-year, $15 million contract with the Failcons. In Dec. '07, Hollywood's trademark trashtalk dug his own grave when he made the fatal error of publicly trashing Head Coach Sean Payton:
" When you get power in this league - I own a business and I don't talk to people who work for me any kind of way. I don't treat them like dirt under my feet. Sooner or later, I don't care what profession you in, when you get power and you know you have power and you act like you're The Man, it will come back and bite you in the [behind]. So basically, it's the chicken coming home to roost. That's what it is. I'm talking about that genius that they hired in New Orleans."
Horn was upset earlier in the season when Saints fans booed him. Rather than realizing they booed his jersey not him, Horn took it personally as usual. The Who Dat appreciates all Joe did on and off the field as a Saint. Too bad he threw it out the window when he committed the unpardonable sin of dissing the Saints as a Failcon. His behavior proved he'd crossed to the Dark Side and was now officially a TRUE Falcon, no different than....
4. Trash-Tweeting Roddy White. Prior to the Saints/Falcons December MNF contest in the Georgia Dome last year, Roddy White outraged Saints players and fans, Katrina survivors, humanity and quite possibly the Lord Almighty by making weapons-grade stupid comments on Twitter. Quoted verbatim:
"The grace of god gave them tht championship so tht city wouldn fall apart now and now they think they hot s*** in"
"The saints win one championship and want to go crazy well yall a** aint winning this year we gone make sure tht doesn't happen"
"The first time we played them their coach gone say after we won the game thts a good win for yall like the saints are the Colts"
"The aints fans are so rude we shall see monday night."
And so we did: Saints 17 - Failcons 14. White had three Receptions for a season-low 43 yards. Regulation time ended with the Saints in Victory Formation with Drew taking a knee on the last two plays, but the game was far from over. Saints players celebrated their win by dancing on the Falcons' logo midfield and even posed for photos on top of it. Ex-Saint DT Remi Ayodele said the Saints did it on purpose in response to White's comments as the ultimate sign of disrespect to the Failcons. As word spread in the Failcon locker room, DE John Abraham fumed, “We can never let that happen again!’’ So instead, the Saints Jimmy Graham broke their goal post the next time we played in the Georgia Dome on Nov. 13 when the Saints beat the Failcons 26-23 in OT.
When Karma's not catching up to White, he's got gridiron skills, but writing and cogent thinking aren't his forte. As "Zackcago" wrote on CBSsports.com: "The grammar is SO bad I can't even concentrate on anything else. It's a good thing this guy can play football because he should be standing next to a fire-in-a-barrel somewhere drinking mouthwash."
5. Fair-Weather Failcon Fans. What kind of fan who's loyal to their TEAM would support a player like Michael Vick who almost single-handedly brought their franchise down? The Failcons fans did in 2006; years later they STILL wear #7 jerseys eve though the dog-killer plays for another team 800 miles away. What team owner would support that player's return to the NFL after he almost tore his franchise apart? Failcons owner Arthur Blank, the genius who hired quitter Bobby Petrino as Head Coach. Would a REAL fan run like roaches early in the 3rd Quarter of a Divisional Playoff Game while their team endures a 48-21 beatdown by Green Bay? 69,210 Failcon fans did, using "traffic" and "ice storm yesterday" as an excuse. I rest my case.
Perhaps "Whoorple," who describes himself as a "Disciple of Breesus" best sums up the Who Dat Nation's hatred of the Failcons on Saintsreport.com:
"Mike Smith is an ugly man with no composure, nothing gives me more satisfaction than watching his face turn bright red when his team ***** up, which thankfully happens a lot. I hope his face pops on Monday.Roddy White is a thug and a crybaby and the antithesis of all things good in the universe. His only redeeming quality is that sometimes he realizes how much his team sucks, but even so he's a 0 out of 10 on the worthwhile-person scale.Matty Ice looks like an ugly duckling, and we all know he will never transform into a beautiful quarterback like Drew Brees. He always seems like a fish out of water, scrambling around, nervous, calling awful audibles. It irks me.Finally, their fans and leaders are just ****** people for the most part. I tried to go over to the Falcons forum to talk some football, found the barest modicum of civil life before promptly being banned for no reason at all besides being a Saints fan.Plus all the intangibles that you just can't quite put into words. The Falcons suck, that's the long and short of it. They're a cocky organization, and they have no reason to be cocky. The ultimate embarrassment. Man I hate them."
While you're at it, check out the Who Dat Nation's version of that annoying NFL Play 60 ad featuring the Failcons they tortured us with last season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata_player&v=ZWahGWbBUME. You'll LOVE the alternate ending. Let's hope the Failcons CRASH on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome field tonight, too.
Fearless Prediction: Drew Brees' teammates will stop at nothing to help him shatter Marino's record and win the NFC South Title in front of a national audience on MNF. To the last man, every Saints player will bring their A+++ game tonight. The Saints have played their best football and been virtually unstoppable at Dome all season. The crowd will be even more drunk and insane than usual (we'll see how Icy Matty is in deafening noise.) The Failcons are playing at a high level (for them...by Failcon standards, that is) but not high enough to overcome the tsunami of love in the Superdome tonight. The Failcons can expect to be on the receiving end of the Saints' juggernaut Offense's "Shock and Awe" treatment, a big loss, the 5th Seed in the Playoffs, and what will feel like a long plane ride back to the set of "The Walking Dead." Look forward to beating you AGAIN in a few weeks, Failcons! Saints 28 - Failcons 21.