I have a confession to make.
I’m a Falcons fan, and I believe we’re going to lose to the Patriots on Super Sunday.
In fact, two weeks ago I believed we would lose to the Seahawks.
Last weekend, I believed we would lose to the Packers. Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Falcons winning by three touchdowns, I was saying things like, “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
Maybe other Falcons fans are like this. I suspect some of them are, even though I just shared my pessimistic outlook with a fellow Falcons fan and he replied, “That’s because you’re also a Vanderbilt fan.”
Good point. No football team since the beginning of time has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as consistently as the Vanderbilt Commodores.
But being a Vanderbilt fan doesn’t have anything to do with my pessimism as a Falcons fan. If I were an Alabama fan and a Falcons fan, I would expect the Crimson Tide to win every single game, and I would still be psychologically prepared for the Falcons to lose every time they played.
I can trace this back to 1980, my first year as a Falcons fan. I loved that Falcons team, which boasted Steve Bartkowski and William Andrews and Alfred Jenkins and Buddy Curry and Tom Pridemore and Jeff Van Note and Mike Kenn.
The fact that I can name two offensive linemen from a team 37 years ago is proof that I am a true fan.
I believed that team would win the Super Bowl. In the division championship, when the Falcons were beating the Cowboys 24-10 in the fourth quarter, I believed they would win.
I never said anything like, “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
When they had a 10-point lead with three minutes left, I believed they would win. When they had a 4-point lead with one minute left, I believed they would win.
And when they lost on a touchdown pass from Danny White to Drew Pearson, I couldn’t believe it.
I went to my room and cried. I was 12 years old. The next day, I woke up saying things like, “Wait till next year.”
Over the next 18 years, the Falcons would win only 35 percent of their games. In January of 1999, I was standing in my living room in Clarksville, Tenn., watching Gary Anderson line up against the Falcons to kick a 39-yard field goal with two minutes remaining to ice the game and send the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl.
Anderson hadn’t missed a kick in two years. It was over.
I’ll never forget that moment. He shanked it, and Atlanta scored a touchdown to send it into overtime. The Falcons won and went to the Super Bowl to face the Broncos.
I believed the Falcons would win. Instead, the night before the big game and hours after picking up the Bart Starr Award for moral character, our Pro Bowl safety, Eugene Robinson, was arrested in downtown Miami and charged with soliciting a prostitute.
The next day, Robinson gave up an 80-yard touchdown and missed a tackle that allowed Terrell Davis to break a long run. The Broncos won 34-19, but it seemed a lot worse than that.
Another 18 years later, the Falcons are back in the Super Bowl. Since then, Tom Brady and the Patriots have been to six Super Bowls and won four.
I expect us to act like we’ve been there before – which now we have – and to play a good game.
But all season I’ve believed we won’t win, and so far my lack of belief is working.
So I believe we won’t win.
And I’ll call it a miracle when we do.