When we had the opportunity last month to have a 70-minute conversation with Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff (the video is embedded in this item), one of the areas of inquiry focused on the presence of players on the roster who may have a hard time getting over the devastating manner in which Super Bowl LI ended. Dimitroff expressed confidence that they’ll have no issues in this regard.
He may want to now revisit that.
The recent appearance by running back Devonta Freeman on SiriusXM NFL Radio, some of which was chronicled a day ago in this spot, contains clear traces of Marshawn Lynch, post-Super Bowl XLIX.
Said Lynch on (where else?) Turkish TV in the aftermath of the Seattle loss to New England fueled by a fateful decision to throw a pass at the goal line: “To be honest with you, I would be a liar if I didn’t tell you that I was expecting the ball. I think it was more of a — how do I say this? When you look at me, and you let me run that ball in, I’m the face of the nation. You know, the MVP of the Super Bowl, that’s pretty much the face of the nation at that point in time. I don’t know what went into that call. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t get the ball. I mean, you know, it cost us the Super Bowl.”
Said Freeman on SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week regarding not only the decisions to pass and not run while in field goal range and leading by eight points late but also his curious second-half disappearance from the running game, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “I hate to go there but I was supposed to be the MVP this year of the Super Bowl, but it’s all good, we got another shot. . . . I don’t want to make this no competition thing with me and my quarterback. I’m just talking about from based off that game. Let’s [say] it like this: if I would have kept getting the ball, if I would have stayed in the game, I don’t know why I got out of the game actually. But if I would have stayed in the game, I would have got MVP. I’m looking at my stats and I see my numbers didn’t lie. Look at my numbers.”
Freeman had six carries for 71 yards in the first half of Super Bowl LI. In the second half, he had five carries for four yards.
Making Freeman’s remarks even more stunning was that they came in the wake of quarterback Matt Ryan declaring that the team has put Super Bowl LI behind it.
“When we started as a team in April, we got together before that as players down in Miami,” Ryan said. “It was time to move on. It was time to look forward. Anytime that we kind of dwell on that is wasted time. We have to focus on trying to become the best football team that this group can be.”
Freeman clearly hasn’t moved on. At a time when Freeman is clamoring for a new contract, it’s hard not to wonder whether the Falcons will move on from him.
If nothing else, Freeman’s comments are a sign that, despite the proclamations of Ryan and others in the organization about everything being OK, someone needs to have a candid conversation with Freeman regarding his current attitudes and beliefs, and whether those attitudes and beliefs will impact the team in a negative way in 2017 or beyond.