Originally created 09/09/04

Falcons fans sacrifice for trip to San Francisco

Having to travel nearly 3,000 miles to see a football game might deter most people, but not Byron and Meg Webb.

Dedicated Atlanta Falcons fans - they were wed in Michael Vick jerseys two years ago - the couple will board a plane to San Francisco today for Sunday's season opener against the 49ers. The Webbs said they are optimistic about this season - the Falcons have a new coach and a new offense.

"We're just so excited," Mrs. Webb said as she and her husband packed for the trip. "We can't believe it's finally time."

The Webbs bought Mr. Vick's Air Zoom Vick Nike shoes and official Kerney and Vick jerseys with the new team logos for the trip. Other items they packed included a few picked from a room in their home dedicated to the team- a Falcons helmet, autographed jerseys, a Vick doll and a trash-talking stuffed animal, along with other items to irritate 49ers fans, Mrs. Webb said.

"You have to wear Falcons colors there because once you get off the plane the heckling begins," said Mrs. Webb, who's been to several away games and is used to opposing fans' comments. "I usually look over, wave and say, 'Smooches, love ya.'"

With season tickets each year, the couple attends all home games - Mrs. Webb sits at the 20-yard line; Mr. Webb in the end zone - but some luck led to this trip, they said.

Early this year, a friend of Mr. Webb won two airline tickets from a radio contest and sold them to the Webbs. In May, some friends who will attend the game with the Webbs went online and found six good seats at the season opener for a bargain, Mrs. Webb said.

Since then, the couple has been saving.

"We were some eBaying fools all summer just so we could go," said Mr. Webb, who works for Mingledorff's Inc. on Wrightsboro Road.

So far, the couple has made nearly $2,400 selling antiques, rock group collectibles and such Falcons items as a coat and Super Bowl commemorative gifts.

The couple went to both Falcons preseason games in Atlanta, but to save for the trip they sacrificed going to training camp and the Falcons' kickoff luncheon for the first time "in many, many years," Mrs. Webb said.

When the Webbs arrive in California, they will stay at the same hotel as the Falcons. When they meet players, they plan to add more signatures to their autographed football.

"You'll get an autograph if they know you traveled 3,000 miles to see them," Mr. Webb said.

On game day, Mr. Webb will paint his newly shaven head, attach a decal above each ear, and sport a pair of football pants worn by a Falcons player.

"If you're going to do it, you might as well go all out," he said.

Nothing touristy is allowed until after the game, Mrs. Webb said. On Monday they will rent a convertible and drive the Pacific Coast to Los Angeles, visiting Hollywood and other attractions along the way. They will return home Sept. 16.

"We won't have much downtime. It'll be on and poppin'," Mr. Webb said.

Staying for a week will require a lot of luggage, but Mrs. Webb said all Falcons items will be carried onto the plane.

"I'll put my jewelry and my clothes in a bag to check before I put my Falcons stuff on there," she said.

Having achieved their goal of going to San Francisco, Mrs. Webb said, the next goal is to go to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii - a trip she said will require selling more things than she and her husband sold this year.

"Yeah," Mr. Webb agreed. "We might have to sell plasma for that."

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.


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