NFL Football is a rotating door for coaches, players, and staff. A pretty general thought process for those involved typically is a here one minute gone the next mentality. There are multiple reasons for the rotating door to go into motion, but classically the reason is for purposes of success. Last season, after The Atlanta Falcons had a marvelous 13-3 regular season triumph, they fell merely ten yards short of experiencing Super Bowl glory first hand for only the second time in history. After allowing a 17-0 lead deep in the NFC Championship game vs. The San Francisco 49ers to slip from their grasp, The Falcons season ended like the thirty other NFL teams that fell short of football immortality. Following the conclusion of the game, it was apparent that they were an outstanding unit with tremendous talent. Unfortunately, it was also evident that some personnel changes were needed in order for the Atlanta Falcons to obtain the mystical Lombardi Trophy. The off-season acquisitions which they ever so diligently obtained were impressive, however, some of the players that were cut sent shock waves throughout the Peach State, leaving fans in disbelief. Although fans will miss all of the players that were dismissed from the Franchise, the two majorly unbelievable losses due to Franchise cuts were John Abraham and Michael Turner.
In 2006 The Atlanta Falcons signed Defensive End John Abraham. In the seven years he played for the Falcons, he obtained an impressive 68.5 sacks, 204 tackles, 20 pass deflections, and 1 interception. It is rare for a defensive player to become the most beloved player on any team, John Abraham was an exception to the rule. Many fans viewed him as the heart and soul of the whole team. The rise in the Atlanta fans wearing Abraham jerseys was phenomenal. On some NFL teams, this would not be a big deal. The people tend to like their teams sack master, so of course there would be a rise in retail jersey sales for that specific player. This is no ordinary team, and they do not have ordinary players. We are talking about a nationally recognized, star-studded offense with production numbers at an all-time high across the board. Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Harry Douglas; these are the jerseys one would expect to see dominating the game time stadium, surrounding city, and metro areas. Somehow with all of the nationally accredited firepower surrounding him, his presence was still loved and admired above all others. Opposing quarterbacks probably felt like they were being chased by the boogeyman every time they uttered the word “hike”, because he was coming for them with the mindset that he actually was the boogeyman. John Abraham is now an Arizona Cardinal despite the Falcons trying to resign him after cutting him at the end of the 2012 season. Presumably he was cut due to the fact that he is now thirty-five years old, and headed into his fourteenth season in the NFL. Unlike many aging veteran players, he is seemingly unaffected by father time. His presence obviously gave his surrounding unit confidence because of his experience, leadership skills, dominance, and terrifying presence for any offense. As an NFL superstar, John Abraham stands alone. His professionalism exceeds him, and he will be sorely missed by The City of Atlanta, The Atlanta Falcons Franchise, and The Fan base.
Michael Turner was also a beloved Atlanta Falcon, his ability to punish defenses was an absolute pleasure to watch. Michael Turner was a victim of circumstance. When The Atlanta Falcons initially acquired him, he was getting roughly twenty-two to thirty touches a game. His potential to run over open field defenders, then carry on downhill was constantly on the mind of opposing Defensive Coordinators. The power and force of the collisions created by him would simply wear out the opposition. The initial fifteen carries would not generate a whole lot of yardage, or carry a lot of statistic weight; but it was wearing the other side out indefinitely. After his punishing running attempts had broken down defenses, his endurance would remain intact. Michael Turner’s sixteenth through twenty-sixth carry would reap what his punishment would sew statistically. The defenses just could not keep up with him, and he would easily break unstoppable big yard runs to obtain wins, preserve wins, and devour the time clock. In his inaugural season as an Atlanta Falcon, Michael Turner rushed for seventeen touchdowns, and would eventually set the Franchise rushing touchdown record with fifty touchdowns. He also opened and closed the season with two-hundred plus yard performances, as well as totaling over seventeen-hundred yards at the season’s end. In 2009 he was elected to the Pro Bowl for his outstanding season. His performance never faltered over the next few seasons. He was always a productive back. In 2012, new Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter took the reins. Under Koetter, the offense was spectacular. Unfortunately for Turner, it was spectacular by way of air assault. Matt Ryan was throwing the ball in excess of forty times a game, limiting the running back to the amount of punishing touches that he needed. Furthermore, Jacquizz Rodgers from Oregon State’s immergence into the Franchise also sliced into the amount of carries which Michael Turner was accustom to getting, limiting his numbers to accumulate. The combination of circumstances led the Atlanta falcons Franchise to cut him after one self-imposed unproductive season, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of many fans.
When the statement was released regarding player dismissal following the 2012 season, absolute shock waves were felt throughout the city. After the primary disbelief, people needed some time to process the news about the longstanding and marvelous players being cut from the team. It will take many fans the entire 2013 season to adapt and accept the fact that they are gone. NFL football is a revolving door, the only thing consistent in NFL is change, and it comes with the territory. Although they obtained some quality players to play the positions of the Falcon beloved, the big names have some big shoes to fill. Atlanta Falcons fans believe in them all, they know that the new acquisitions have the capability to step up and be more than productive in their respective positions. The City of Atlanta owes a debt of gratitude to Michael Turner, John Abraham, and all of the members of the 2012 Falcons team who were cut by the franchise for whatever reason. The Fan base of the Atlanta Falcons should acknowledge all that they accomplished in their years as Atlanta Falcons. Always appreciate their hard work, commitment, dedication, and mesmerizing style of play. Salute them, never forget them, and hold them in your hearts as the all-time great Atlanta Falcons. They earned their respect with blood, sweat, and tears. They nearly did what only one other Falcons unit could do since 1966; play for a chance to win the Super Bowl. If they think that their hard work went unappreciated, I would like to take the time to thank each and every one of them on behalf of The Dirty-Bird Nation.
Adam Beckett is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at ABeckett@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com
Reference: All statistics were acquired from NFL.com