Falcons' Asante Samuel fired up to face his former team

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Atlanta's Asante Samuel (left) has had plenty to say about Philadelphia, his former team, heading into Sunday's matchup.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Atlanta's Asante Samuel (left) has had plenty to say about Philadelphia, his former team, heading into Sunday's matchup.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Asante Samuel can’t wait to return to Philadelphia with his unbeaten Atlanta Falcons.

The brash cornerback says he still has “nothing but love” for Eagles fans despite getting traded to Atlanta six months ago.

“All y’all fans, all I did for y’all, y’all better cheer for me,” Samuel said. “You know what I mean? Deuce here got nothing but love for you.”

Samuel indicated that the unceremonious departure still hurts his ego.

After all, he intercepted 23 passes in 56 games for the Eagles, but still was dealt to the Falcons.

“Lot of turnovers over there, helped them win a lot of games,” he said. “We’re undefeated over here, so I’m helping this team win a lot of games, and I’m happy to be here. I’m happy we helped build this team up with the Falcons, you know?”

Samuel said this week that his focus now is entirely on helping the Falcons (6-0) win at Philadelphia (3-3) on Sunday.

Even so, Samuel stirred things up during Atlanta’s bye week with tweets that criticized Andy Reid’s recent firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

Samuel, 31, sought to clarify his thoughts with Atlanta reporters this week during a chirpy interview.

The session did not begin until he put on his helmet for the television cameras.

• Asked about last week’s tweets, Samuel said, “Y’all assume that was about Andy. I didn’t say this is for Andy. I just made a quote and then another quote. Y’all did that, so talk to me.”

• Asked if he appreciates Reid trading him to Atlanta instead of another team, Samuel said that “they
tried to not let me come to Atlanta, of course, but you know we got it done. We got it done.”

• Asked about Phila­delphia’s fourth-quarter meltdowns and turnover issues, Samuel was blunt.

“It’s kind of hard when 22’s not there,” Samuel said, referring to his own jersey number. “Twenty-two will keep things going for you, you know what I mean? That’s what you got to do. You make your bed, and you’ve got to lay in it.”

After the crowd of reporters moved away, Samuel gave a glimpse of his softer side when asked about the condition of his sick mother, whose name he declined to give and whose illness he would not reveal.

But her condition was serious enough during training camp that Samuel had to take two personal days to visit her in Florida.

“I’ve got to do what I can do to help out the best way I can,” he said. “She’s doing good, fighting hard every day, spirits up.”

Samuel has run a Florida-based charity — the Bring it Home Single Moms Foundation — for several years to honor his mother’s work in raising him as a single parent. The foundation seeks to identify low-income single mothers who need help in becoming first-time homeowners.

“One thing I support a lot is single parents,” Samuel said. “They’ve got the kids of the future, and I want to help out the best I can, (after) going through the situation I went through.”

Samuel’s charitable spirit might seem counterintuitive to the personality he shows as a player, but not to Falcons coach Mike Smith.

Smith long ago adjusted to Samuel’s constant yelling in practice, a habit the former Central Florida standout brought to the New England Patriots as a rookie in 2003 and continued in Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Samuel constantly challenges teammates and rarely hesitates to point out his own skills, but Smith said it’s all in good fun.

“Believe it or not, Asante on game day is a different guy than he is during the week,” Smith said. “I’ve learned that real quick in the six games we’ve played. Asante is all business on game day.”

Samuel did his part two weeks ago against Oakland, returning an interception for a 79-yard touchdown in the closing minutes.

This week, he was still bragging about the big play.

“Yeah, I changed my name to Pick Six in the offseason, and I got me a pick six,” Samuel said with a grin. “Is that what you’re referring to? It made me feel good in the Georgia Dome, baby. I’ve got another chance this week to set it off. Hopefully I’ll set it up.”


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