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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ben's Sports Take: Falcons remind us how to get 'Jiggy Wit It'

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The year was 1998.

A gallon of gas costs about $1.15.

Google takes its maiden voyage on this interweb thing.

Will Smith was cranking out one hit single after another. Ya know, the post-Fresh Prince days when Smith was laying down hot tracks such as 'Just the Two of Us', 'Miami' and my personal theme song, 'Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."

Everything from the FDA's approval of Viagra to President Clinton's denial and ultimate affirmation of Oval Office BJ's, 1998 was quite an interesting year.

Especially here in Atlanta, where the Falcons put together a 14-2 regular season before making it all the way to Super Bowl XXXIII in—of all places—Miami.

Fast forward 12 years.

Gas is a little more expensive—roughly $3 a gallon.

That Facebook doohickey has surpassed Google as the new rage among all the whippersnappers.

Will Smith is a 42-year-old movie star.

Viagra has plenty of boner-pill competition—Cialis, Levitra, Edex, just to name a few—and that's not even counting the male enhancement pills for 'that certain part of the male anatomy'...the prostate?

And a former draft-dodging, drunkard Governor from Texas occupied the White House for eight years, making everyone forget about Pres. Clinton's promiscuity.

But the one thing that seems to be the same is the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta is 12-2 for the first time since 1998 and is one win away from clinching the NFC South and homefield Domefield advantage throughout the NFL playoffs.

The names have certainly changed since then, but there's little doubt that this is the greatest Falcons team in the franchise's 44-year history.

The unflappable Matt Ryan replaces Chris Chandler Chandelier.

Michael Turner is a more elusive, less-relied-upon version of Mr. Dirty Bird himself, Jamal Anderson.

Roddy White has become one of the best receivers in the NFL, while Terance Mathis was simply a serviceable wideout in 1998.

Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, 34, is proving that he still has what it takes to move the chains. O.J. Santiago was the Falcons tight end in '98—no argument needed.

And head coach Mike Smith appears to be a younger, healthier version of Dan Reeves.

Despite all of their success and their likelihood of clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Falcons are still flying under the radar. But that might not be a bad thing.

Sure, the Falcons aren't the flashiest team in the league. They don't have the star appeal of a Tom Brady or winning pedigree of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but one thing they do have is the best record in the league—tied with the Patriots—and all the components that make up a Super Bowl-caliber team.

A solid front office, an intelligent head coach, a heady quarterback, a solid running game, a consistent field goal kicker and an overachieving, opportunistic defense.

I think the opening lines from Will Smith's 1998 smash hit 'Gettin' Jiggy Wit It' sums up the city's collective confidence heading into the postseason pretty well:

Bring it.
Whoo!
Unh, unh, unh, unh
Hoo cah cah
Hah hah, hah hah
What, what, what, what
Hah hah hah hah
Unh,
on your mark ready set let's go

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