We Will Rise Again
Written by Kaedus Hines.
Photos by Demarco Valentine
This is pain.
I've been fortunate in life so far to have not experienced traumatic losses on the level many others unfortunately have. There is no comparison between illness or the loss of a loved one or anything else that goes on in the real world and a football game. There are far greater issues that this world has to face, one of which I was acutely aware of as I took a post-game walk around my gentrified East Atlanta block in a black hoodie.
With that being said, this is some of the worst pain I've ever felt in my life.
Sports feed on our subconscious minds by allowing us to live vicariously through them. That's why some people root for winning teams they have no personal connection to, reap the rewards of their success, and move on to the next top team when the losses outweigh the notoriety.
For others, that symbiotic bond attaches the fan to a team that they suffer through the deepest agonies for just a taste of the success. There's a certain level of emotional masochism we endure through the losing seasons and first round busts and playoff failures as we try to get a championship that we feel *we have* earned.
Cavalier and Cub fans felt that vindication in the past year. I felt happy for them as they won their respective titles, knowing that there is nothing I would want more — on a vicarious, media-brainwashed, subconscious level — than to see anyone in Atlanta win a ring. I wanted it for so much more than just my own fan-hood. I wanted for my city. I wanted it for everything that has happened here and everything that will. I wanted it for the lifers to know it all paid off and have pride in what we've accomplished. I wanted to keep the bandwagoners showing team spirit and wearing their Falcons gear up and down the streets. I wanted it to end all the naysayers' negativity and anti-Falcon media agendas. I wanted it to propel the team to the next tier amongst the NFL.
I wanted it to be symbolic of the transition this city is going through, to somehow, some way, unify the whole city to the point that it fixes gentrification and traffic and MARTA and the metal plates they still putting over potholes in these streets and....
....I wanted to see my city reborn.
We've been through fires before:
Sherman burnt the city down
The Great Atlanta Fire of 1917 (look it up, connects a great deal to history of Boulevard/Monroe and connects to gentrification, from 100 years ago to today — #staywoke)
This is another fire; for the Falcon, for the diehard fans, and for the city itself. Again, we have to rise from the ashes. But there's not enough Phoenix Downs in the world for this shit right now. For the ride-or-dies that have been through it all, the ones that have had their faith tested and still refused to surrender their love for this team, this is agony of the most immortal kind.
Understand this now. This is a curse we will have to live with for all eternity. We can come right back next year and win it all. We can pull off a 3-peat. Matt Ryan can win a title every year for the rest of his career and we will NEVER hear the end of it for this. This is Bill Buckner in 1986 on crack. This is Oilers vs. Bills in 1993 on a molly. This is Golden State being up 3-1 last year on some pills you found on Edgewood. We were the sacrificial lambs for the greatest comeback in sports history by the greatest QB in NFL history.
We're going to have to live with this. We have got to move on. We have to hold on. We can't let this destroy our love for our squad.
Kaedus Hines. is an Atlanta native, Falcons fan, and artist. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @Kaedushines
Demarco Valentine is a freelance photographer & international giraffe fight referee for ABL Radio. You can see more of his work on IG @demarcov