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Harris Blackwood: Cheering for Atlanta Falcons to win
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I grew up in a baseball household.

My daddy loved baseball. He understood the basics of football, but I cannot recall him sitting down to watch a game.

I remember his transistor radio out by the porch swing, where he would listen to Milo Hamilton and Ernie Johnson call the Braves games on WSB.

My mother and dad had a restaurant and a wonderful lady named Lula watched me while mama was at work. She lived out in the Summerhill area of Atlanta, where the new Atlanta Stadium was being built. I watched it go up.

The stadium was built in the era when they thought you could have a baseball and football venue in one stadium. That didn’t work, but we tried it for 25 years.

We went to the parade when the Braves came to town. In fact, a friend’s dad drove a convertible in the parade. We got to ride along.

Our car carried outfielder Rico Carty. In front of us was a catcher named Joe Torre and behind us was another outfielder, Felipe Alou. I had never heard names like that and I can remember thinking they sounded really cool.

Then came the Falcons. I didn’t know much about football, but mama bought me a Falcons sweatshirt that first season.

I remember somebody asking me if I watched the Falcons on TV. I really didn’t know they were on TV. But I can remember tuning in and hearing the voice of Ed Thilenius. He was the weeknight sports anchor on Channel 5. His son, Ed, has lived in Gainesville for a number of years.

My only remembrance of the early Falcons was they didn’t win. Unfortunately, that was the story of the Falcons for several seasons.

After he retired from coaching the Falcons, Norm Van Brocklin moved to my boyhood home of Social Circle. That was one of our claims to fame.

I think I have been to two Falcons games in 51 years. I’ve never set foot inside the Georgia Dome. The last time I went they were still playing at the old stadium. I guess I’ll miss the dome.

But despite my disconnect with the Falcons, I want them to win the Super Bowl. I want them to come back home to Atlanta and ride down Peachtree Street and hear the accolades of adoring fans.

I’ve had a few friends in the Falcons organization. I got to know Tommy Nobis, the first Falcon drafted for the new franchise in 1965. When I was in the cable TV business, I met Tom Pridemore and Scott Case.

I want the Falcons to win one for the old guys. They played hard but never got to play for the big ring.

I want them to win for Flowery Branch, which has served as their training and practice home for years. It would bring a little piece of the trophy back to Hall County.

The Falcons are Georgia’s team and fans from Rabun Gap to Tybee Light are excited about the prospects of a Super Bowl champion defending its title in a new stadium that will be the talk of the NFL later this year. I want them to win today and I’ll be cheering them on.

I promise I won’t wait 30 years to come and visit.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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