Atlanta’s New Era Opens in the Shadow of a Collapse

Atlanta’s New Era Opens in the Shadow of a Collapse

Postautor: Angel92 » 27 wrz 2017, o 03:44

Hors d’oeuvres are being served in the private Gallery Room, up the winding, carpet-lined stairs at the tony 21 Club in midtown Manhattan. It’s 7 p.m. on a balmy summer evening and cocktail hour has just begun. Trays of grilled chicken, Caprese salad and Swedish meatballs are proffered by genteel men in immaculate black suits, red wine and whiskey handed out from behind a wood-paneled bar. Chandeliers dangle overhead. The dress code is formal. The mood, hopeful.
This is stop No. 1 on the Atlanta Falcons Image Rehabilitation tour, where two dozen media members were invited to attend what was billed as an “intimate, on-the-record chat” with team officials about the franchise’s direction and the grand opening of its much-hyped new stadium. Few NFL teams have ever felt the need to gather reporters in the offseason, feed them, booze them, schmooze them, and let them know that all is going great. But then again, no team has ever experienced the collapse, the national embarrassment, that the Falcons did in Houston last February. Especially not at such a critical juncture in franchise history, when everything really was going great, better than ever before. Until it wasn’t.
In 2016, the Falcons—a franchise that had long settled into its middling position in the NFL hierarchy, right in the meaty part of the curve—seemed ready to ascend to new heights. They were on the precipice of gaining entry into an exclusive club, one of enduring excellence and sustained prominence, the top tier of NFL franchises. Then, 28-3 happened, and everything came crashing down, the collapse of a Jenga tower only with the whole world watching. And now here we are, upstairs at the 21 Club, fancy finger food being passed around and the franchise attempting to make it very clear that the tower did not actually collapse, not fully at least, that the foundation that they built their resurgence upon is still in tact and that they plan to continue to build on top of it, 28-3 be damned.
Team owner Arthur Blank, president Rich McKay, chief executive officer Steve Cannon, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn circumnavigate the Gallery Room. They shake hands and offer pleasantries, thanking those present for being present. A dozen infographics, printed on poster boards and sitting on tripod stands, are scattered about. They each tout different aspects of the soon-to-be-debuted Mercedes-Benz Stadium—Construction and Design; Food and Beverage—and are filled with facts that will double as talking points throughout the evening.
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