A lot has happened with the Atlanta Falcons since I interviewed Chariell Baisden last November. Her team became NFC champs and took a second trip to the Super Bowl only to came up short, blowing a twenty five point lead against the New England Patriots to lose in overtime. The Falcons first home game of the regular season is against the Green Bay Packers Sunday September 17th, 2017. Will the Falcons give the Packers another L to hold as they christen their new billion dollar home, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium?
A new season brings on new possibilities filled with new hope. I talked with Chariell about her thoughts on the new season, what it was like visiting the new stadium and the hot topic that is Colin Kaepernick.
The Falcons had an incredible season last year and made it to the Super Bowl, how did you feel when they lost?
It’s really difficult to put the range of emotions I felt into words. To be honest, I’ve had to process it like stages of grief. That may sound dramatic, but it’s honest. That night, as soon as it went to OT, my stomach hardened and I was in shock and denial. There was no way this loss could be happening. Not like this. We were too close. This couldn’t be real. But it was. And I was in indescribable pain. I didn’t want to talk to anyone for a whole week. I cried. After the pain came the anger. How could we let that happen?! I wanted to kill Kyle Shanahan. Then came the period of sad reflection and depression about it around April. The upward turned when the team came back for OTA’s. Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan and the team seemed to be DETERMINED to move forward. If they could I could too. Training camp was our reconstruction and working through. And now I’m in a period of acceptance and hope.
How can the Falcons have the same or similar season like last year?
We had a historic season last year, so it’s unrealistic to think things can be the same. It is possible to get back to the Super Bowl, but it will be extremely difficult. Everything says we shouldn’t make it back. So the first thing is to stop listening to everything, which I think the team and the coaches know. We have all the talent to get back, it’s going to be a matter or taking it game by game. The offense is going to have to remain as high flying as they can under Steve Sarkisian, the new OC, and the young defense has to take the lessons they’ve learned and add it to their hunger. They have to use their experience to their advantage.
Do you think they’ll make it back to the Super Bowl by the time it comes to Atlanta in 2019?
I think if we are going to make it back there’s a better chance it’s this season than it is next season, when the Super Bowl will be coming to Atlanta.
What was it like stepping into the new stadium? Do you think Atlanta now has the best stadium in the NFL?
I was in awe. It’s SO beautiful!!!! It was like moving from your childhood home into your dream house! It doesn’t feel quite like home yet, but it will. Mercedes Benz is DEFINITELY the best stadium in the NFL. I don’t think anybody could even try to argue otherwise.
Who do you think was a great addition to the team?
Steve Sarkisian, the new offensive coordinator. I initially had my doubts, (and my cheap jokes about hoping he won’t be drunk on the sidelines…. Not proud of them but I did make them. It was too easy.) But he seems to be operating under “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He isn’t trying to completely revamp the offense. He’s adjusting to the team and not having them try to adjust to him, like Kyle Shanahan did when he came in in 2015, to our detriment.
What are you expecting from Dan Quinn? Matt Ryan? Julio Jones? Devonta Freeman?
I love Dan Quinn. I think the SuperBowl loss gave him a few lessons he needed to learn. He’s a defensive minded guy, and that’s great, but I think now he’s going to make sure he has more of a say than his coordinator if they’re making plays that don’t make sense. (WHY weren’t we running the ball in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl?!) Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman are going to continue to do what they do. Consistent, high level play. I expect nothing less from our offensive superstars.
With everything that is going on with Colin Kaepernick, will you be protesting the NFL in any capacity? Why or why not?
It’s beyond unfortunate Kaep still isn’t signed, but I believe and hope that he will sooner rather than later. I stand with all of the players who will be taking a knee during the national anthem in protest, but I will not be protesting the league this season.
What can the NFL do better to rectify this situation (Kaepernick)?
It all comes down to the owners. The league and Roger Goddell can’t put him on a team. One of these team owners who doesn’t have a QB as good as Kaep is going to have to be honest enough to admit they need him and can use him on their team, and be brave enough to sign him in spite of the optics, politics, and whatever else.
What does ‘In Brotherhood’ mean to you?
Dan Quinn’s team slogan is cute. I prefer Rise Up!, but In Brotherhood is cool. It doesn’t really do anything for me, but I love that the team has bought into it. They have each other’s backs, and they really seem to want to make each other better.
What are you expecting from the Falcons this season?
It’ll be a good season. All the pieces to the puzzle are still there. I’m actually predicting that we get back to the NFC championship at least, and I don’t see why we can’t win it again.
Chariell also is new to the podcast world. Her podcast The Belle On Ball, isn’t a Falcons podcast nor is it a take on “women love football, too.” Chariell explained that her podcast is “literally just me talking NFL football. The podcast is just another platform to talk football and engage with other fans. I give my opinions and analysis of all things NFL, and I invite people to share theirs with me. When it’s football season, football is literally all I talk about. My podcast I think that message is an important one, so people will start to recognize that football fandom has no gender!”