Are you #TrueToAtlanta? Do you #RiseUp? Atlanta has been labeled the worst city for sports. How will this fare for the Atlanta Falcons? Now that basketball has ended, it’s time to see what the Atlanta Falcons can do this upcoming season. What better way to get an early feeling than from a superfan. I chatted with friend and former classmate, Genard Williams to talk about his beloved Falcons.
Connie Irvin: Are you from Atlanta?
Genard Williams: Yes, I am from the southern capital–Atlanta. I was born at Grady Memorial Hospital, and I am affectionately known as a “Grady Baby” to my fellow ATLiens! All of my schooling, from kindergarten to graduate school, has been in Atlanta.
CI: When did you first become an Atlanta Falcons fan?
GW: I have been a Falcons fan since I could remember. I would guess it started around the time I began to truly understand and appreciate the game of football. Being an ATLien, I have and will always choose the home team. My fondest memory of the Falcons is the 98 season—it was magical. To top it off, the “dirty bird” dance was a big deal. But, I was a fan before that. I would say I truly became a fan during the early Jessie ‘The Hammer’ Tuggle era.
CI: What is special about Atlanta teams that make you a superfan?
GW: I would have to say it was nothing that the teams did in particular. My loyalty comes with the moniker of being a “GA Boy”.
CI: How do you feel about Atlanta fans being called some of the worst fans ever? We’re referred to as wishy washy.
GW: Worst Fans Ever? Judging by the attendance to stadium capacity, I would say that we are doing quite alright. But seriously, I would have someone to take a look at the population growth in Atlanta—The “Big-Little City”. Atlanta is a “hotbed” for professionals because of several factors: job opportunity, cost of living relative to larger cities, and location, location, location! Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, along with the other factors make Atlanta a preferred destination for relocation. So, in essence we have an influx of transplants, carrying with them loyalty to their respective home teams. I mean, if and when I leave Atlanta, I will still be an Atlanta Sports fan. So, take into consideration the population growth we have been experiencing because I personally believe that there is a correlation between the two (population and fan loyalty). But also, you have to deal with the new generation—millennials. They are infamous for not having loyalty to a particular job, brand, etc. While it is problem for franchises that lack a storied history–such as the Cowboys, Packers, Steelers 49ers, etc–it also presents a great opportunity. Knowing that loyalty fluctuates relative to the team’s success, organization can focus on putting a winning product on the field, and convert fans from losing franchises. Just look how people jumped on Carolina Panthers bandwagon. A few seasons ago, Coach Rivera and Cam Newton were both on their way out of the door. A division win, aided by an extremely weak division that year, spared them another season. What happened next is precisely what I explained above. The Panthers had a really great season, and thus was able to convert fans from nearby fan bases to their team. I have a few friends who are all of sudden “Panthers” fans. But soon, they will all come back down to reality.
CI: What are you expecting from the Falcons this season?
GW: HHAR; high expectations adjusted to reality. As always, I get pumped by the off-season, which includes the draft, free agency and training camps. So, if you ask me I will always say, “We are going to the Super Bowl.” In reality, I know that we have a few areas to shore up, specifically the pass-rush. But I have seen a sorry Panthers team, go on the next year to be “other-worldly” (until they lost to us, of course). So, anything is possible. And as a “true” fan, I believe that. “Georgia Born, Georgia Bred, I’ll be a Georgia Boy until I am Georgia dead!”