Originally created 01/26/99

Falcons out of place in Miami

MIAMI -- Welcome to the city where sin and seduction are as necessary as sunglasses, cell phones and Spanish fluency, where style points double touchdowns.

Miami, home to Super Bowl XXXIII, among other things, derives its energy from its superficiality. This is the glitz and glamour capital of North, and South, America.

Drive down South Beach's Ocean Avenue, the last road before the Atlantic Ocean, and you may be awed by the luxury by which its populous lives. Or the golden brown tans. Or the inherent belief that loose clothes are nice, cleavage is better, showing off skin an absolute must.

Live here long enough and you learn that this town is all about who you know, and who they know, and who you know they know you know.

On an image scale, Miami ranks in the triple digits, easily outpacing other burlesque capitals in categories of debauchery, deception and dancing. The word here is that if you don't like the party you're at, keep crossing the street until one that suits you bumps you in the back.

The intensity, the rhythm, the pulsating vibe this city can generate at any hour of the night is unmatched by any other community. Trouble surrounds you, tempting your inhibitions with every changing of the channel, with every mile traveled on the expressway, with every palm tree swaying in the sky.

With that backdrop in mind come the Falcons, the family-totin', bible-quotin', lunch pail-sportin' of the two football teams to congregate here. They fit Miami's image like Dennis Rodman would if he resided in Boise, Idaho.

Ironic, huh? When the Falcons were all flash in the bad old days of the early 1990s -- when they were cozy with M.C. Hammer and "2 Legit to Quit" -- they sported very little substance and were vanquished by teams that understood the importance of grittiness.

Now here the Falcons are, older, grayer, wiser, having made their way to America's all-night rave party. Bashes hosted by Rodman, L.L. Cool J, Madonna, Cher and other one-named celebrities are the talk of the town, not the impending game.

After two days without a curfew, the Falcons already sound like a bunch of party poopers spoiling the dance.

"You don't get caught up in parties," veteran Jesse Tuggle said, symbolizing his team's approach. "You've got plenty of time to party after the game. If you win this game, you'll get enough parties. You'll get enough time to dance."

So with that in mind, you're not going to see any Falcon player renting a Lamborghini at $1,900 a day, like Denver's Willie Green did. You're not going to read reports of Falcon players salsaing into the wee hours on South Beach or Coconut Grove.

Even the team's ultimate showman, the rapid-talking Jamal Anderson, said the only sightseeing he plans on partaking in is trips to the Pro Player Stadium end zone.

"I'm never a tourist," Anderson said, drawing what may be the largest throng of reporters yet. "Miami is a great town, and I'm sure one day I'll come here to enjoy it."

Anderson might be the only Falcon not to get stopped behind the Beach's velvet ropes by some burly security guard. He's got the pizzazz about him that could make him a true Miamian. The others, however ...

"If that means we're boring, then we're boring," defensive end Chuck Smith said. "And anyways, we don't have a big party team. I've been on some big party teams and this isn't one. Half these guys are married."

Ah ha. Now we understand why Dan Reeves allowed the wives and children to stay with the players all week. Who needs to hire extra team security spies when the best police reside in the players' rooms?

Sports columnist Rick Dorsey can be reached at (706) 823-3219 or rdorsey@augustachronicle.com.


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