By Ed Brock
Consoling himself over a hearty game-time meal at the Sports Caf? in Jonesboro, Falcons fan Eugene Dawson said it all about his team's loss of the NFC Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Maybe next year," Dawson said with a shrug.
After a brutal battle in Sunday's bitter cold, albeit snowless, weather, Atlanta's Falcons fell to the Eagles 28 to 10, ending the team's hopes for a trip to Jacksonville, Fla., for Super Bowl XXXIX. It would have been the Falcons' second bowl since 1998, when they lost to the Denver Broncos.
Watching the opening plays at the bar in Gregory's Restaurant in Stockbridge, Brian Willams of Stockbridge was optimistic. The game had just begun and was, at that point, scoreless.
"I think the Falcons will win," Williams said. "The longer they have the ball running, they control the game."
As the game clock wound down, fans started leaving the Sports Caf? on Tara Boulevard where the crowd was so big that the parking lot was full and employees at the CVS Drug Store next door had to chase away non-customers. The mood in the bar was turning somber.
"I guess everybody's a little disappointed," said Hyon Mi, a co-owner of the bar. "But still there's hope."
That hope was dwindling with each second as the score went to 28-10 with a little over three minutes left to the game. Falcons fan Billy Johnson of Forsyth County was forgiving of Vick, pointing out that it was his first time in a championship.
"He's got a lot of years left," Johnson said.
But Dawson, who lives in Lithonia, was disappointed.
"I thought Vick could do better. I thought the offense could do better," Dawson said.
Not everybody was feeling down. Jonesboro attorney Shone Broadnax was wearing his colors as an Eagles fan and feeling great.
"That's my squad. I've been waiting for this for the longest," Broadnax said.
Broadnax was joined by fellow Philly fans Willliam Warden of Forest Park, Jeff Stevens of Hapeville and Shawn Wright of Fayetteville.
"I've got my Eagle's license plate on my Eagles-mobile. We're going to Jacksonville," Warden said.
Of the group, Wright was the only one actually from Philadelphia.
"We knew we were going to win. The defense was right," Wright said. "Tell the Falcons fans that we invented the scrambling quarterback."
The Eagles will go on to play the winner of the AFC Championship that was scheduled to be played Sunday night.