The Atlanta Falcons are done listening.
They heard about how Matt Ryan can’t win a postseason game. They heard about how no team in the league is scared to play them. They heard the yawns and crickets as they ran through the season for a 13-3 record, tied for league best. They heard how the Seattle Seahawks were too hot, too tough, too physical to stop. Now, they hear how Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers are going to the Super Bowl, as if this weekend’s game is already a done deal.
I don’t think the Falcons care anymore. They don’t care about what the media says or the never-ending questions about whether Matt Ryan fits into a category made up by sportswriters. They don’t even seem to thrive on the underdog, no-one-believes-in-us mentality like some other teams do.
They don’t need manufactured motivation. They don’t need Tony Gonzalez doing some ridiculously stupid dance in order to gain attention to the fact of his impending retirement. They keep their heads down and do all their talking on the field.
The Falcons have done their best to be impervious to the circus of the constant media machine that has fewer and fewer teams to talk about as the field is whittled down. It seems that very few of the criticisms and backhanded compliments find any willing targets in the locker room. Opponents and pundits fire shots at the team and the Falcons are merely content to do their work and let the shots fall. They don’t take the bait.
Maybe it’s true that no one is scared of the Falcons, but the Falcons aren’t scared of anyone either. They aren’t standing in awe of the 49ers or Kaepernick or Jim Harbaugh, just as they didn’t stand in awe of Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and the Seahawks.
Those who write off the Atlanta Falcons do so at their own risk. The Falcons won’t be upset by everyone picking against them. They won’t even use it to get themselves all riled up for Sunday’s game. Because after seasons and seasons of all the doubters, the Falcons just don’t hear it anymore.