Now that the Atlanta Falcons lost 

The fine print on the sports column you read before the team played

This column contains forward-looking statements.

The words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "may," "will," "would," "rise up" and similar expressions, as well as the negative of such expressions — "disbelieve," "unintend," "rise down," et cetera — are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these specific identifying words.

These forward-looking statements are subject to important exceptions, including the following specific exceptions: Historical performance may not be indicative of future performance.

Also, and more importantly: the first half of an NFL football season does not predict the second half of an NFL football season, no matter what Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White says, does or doesn't do (like, for example, catch the football inside the 10-yard line with his man beat and less than a minute left).

Known and unknown factors could cause actual football results — wins or losses — to differ materially from those projected in the hyperbolic forward-looking statements expressed here. These include: known knowns (New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham's height and quarterback Drew Brees' hair loss); known unknowns (Atlanta Falcons 304-pound offensive lineman Mike Johnson's catching ability and running back Michael Turner's blood alcohol level); and unknown unknowns (the unknowns inside Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith's head).

Given the uncertainties, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. Or make large bets on the team fawned over in this hastily written, tendentious column. All of the following piece's forward-looking statements — such as those involving the numbers 16 or 19, or the word "undefeated" — are qualified by these cautionary statements and other cautionary statements — like football is dangerous and New Orleans makes you do things you wouldn't ordinarily do. And there can be no assurance that the actual results or developments will be realized or, even if partially realized — like the Atlanta Falcons reach the playoffs and lose in the divisional round, again — that they will have the expected consequences or effects on the Atlanta Falcons, Kasim Reed's reelection campaign, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, or your NFL Pick 'Em pool.

Forward-looking statements are given only at the date hereof, and we (the writer/editor/fact-checker/publisher/janitor guy) disclaim any obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information (New Orleans Saints fans patronize Milltown Tavern), future events (Atlanta Falcons lose 31-27 to the New Orleans Saints) or newly uncovered past events (Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was actually born in 1910 and cryogenically frozen until the year 1985), except as required by applicable laws and the whims of non-replacement referees.

Accordingly, literate fans (should there be any left) are cautioned that the success or failure of the Atlanta Falcons, or any other team that readers seem to believe they're reading about here, should not be construed as an alternative to eating or sleeping, or as a measure of their worth as human beings.

As for perfection, come on.

People throw around the term "OCD," but looking back, in late elementary school and junior high, I was pretty obsessive compulsive. My room was a fastidiously curated space, from the exact proportions of my Nerf hoop mini-court, to the array of signed baseballs and Bo Jackson posters on the wall.

I had to turn the lights on and off in multiples of five when I entered and left. I had to make 10 free throws in a row, in the back alley, before I went back inside. Every piece of "art" I made — most of it inspired by the Nike logo — had to be symmetrical. I washed my hands until they were flaky, and brushed my teeth until, occasionally, my gums bled. I counted steps and stop signs and stadium seats. I drew lines with rulers. I made lots of lists, like: topics to discuss on the phone with the girl I "dated" in seventh grade. Homework, needless to say, was completed with a kind of monastic fervor.

The point is, I strove for perfection. And, as a result, didn't really enjoy a lot of what I did as a kid — on courts and fields, especially. Maybe that would have been true anyway; puberty is rough for all types. But I've held perfection in contempt ever since. My best work has come when I've given up on being perfect and been satisfied with being great, which is rare enough.

Now, having proven their fallibility, the Atlanta Falcons will go on to do great, imperfect things. That's a forward-looking statement worth getting behind.

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