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COVER 9@9: Pioli delivered uplifting commencement speech after leaving Falcons

Former Falcons executive Scott Pioli delivering his commencement speech Saturday, May 18, 2019, at his alma mater,  Central Connecticut State University.
Former Falcons executive Scott Pioli delivering his commencement speech Saturday, May 18, 2019, at his alma mater, Central Connecticut State University.

Do yourself a favor today and listen to Scott Pioli’s commencement speech that he delivered Saturday at Central Connecticut State University.

After resigning from the Falcons on Thursday, he left for Hartford, Conn.

“The last 24 hours have been somewhat surreal,” Pioli said.

(If video below won’t play: You can go to the main page and click on the “evening ceremony.” At the 1:10:27 mark, Dr. Pioli speaks. He was conferred a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.)

He discussed some colorful events that happened 31 years ago before his graduation and the speech that Benjamin Hooks, the former executive director of the NAACP, delivered at his commencement.

Pioli, who played football at Central Connecticut, noted that he was the first from his family to graduate from college.

He encouraged the graduates to be a servant, beat resilient and be loving and graceful.

He told them they are have been blessed with time, talent or treasure and encouraged them to give back.

He shared thoughts from Brian Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala.

Pioli told them “failure is coming one day. You don’t know when and you’ll never be prepared.”

Pioli pointed to his tenure as Kansas City’s general manager as a “failure” and that he was fired two months after witnessing a former player, Jevon Belcher, commit suicide in the team’s parking lot after he’d killed his girlfriend in a domestic dispute.

The real victims, Pioli said, were the parents of the girlfriend, the parents of the player and the child who was left with no parents.

For tragedy and failure, he said, “Be still. Listen. Pray and move forward.”

There was also this wonderful story about a school teacher, Ms. Cooper, and a subsequent reunion years later.

“Give of your heart,” Pioli concluded. “Give of yourself and keep making this world, this university and this country a better place.”

2. OTAs are voluntary. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who was promised a contract extension this offseason, did not report to the start of the team's organized team activities on Monday.

Jones did not participate in offseason activities last season and settled on a contract adjustment before the start of training camp. The Falcons agreed to improve Jones' contract after it was adjusted on July 27, 2018.

Jones’ deal currently has two years remaining with salaries of $9.6 million in 2019 and $11.4 million in 2020.

3. Phase Three | 6 hours a day.  Three weeks for 10 total OTAs. A maximum of three OTA's each week for the first two weeks. During Weeks 1 and 2 a fourth non-OTA workout is allowed but phase two rules apply. A maximum of four OTA's for the 3rd or 4th week.

One week for minicamp. No pads except protective knee and elbow pads, helmets are permitted. No live contact. 7 on 7, 9 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills will be permitted provided no live contact takes place.

4. Mandatory minicamp. The rules for the mandatory minicamp include work for 10 hours a day. Physicals on Monday, but no practice. Practices Tuesday-Thursday, with a day off on Friday.

The rules allow two practices totaling 3.5 hours on the field per day.

Second practice limited to walk through activities only.

5. McCoy leaving the division. Former Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was released  on Monday.  He was set to make $13 million. The Falcons with just $2.3 million in salary cap room are not a potential suitor. New England looks like the early favorite.

6. Attendance. While Jones didn't report for the start of OTAs, the Falcons are expecting 100 percent attendance for the minicamp.

7. Injury report. Fourth-round pick Kendall Sheffield (pectoral injury) and sixth-round pick Marcus Green (hamstring) didn't take part in the practice during rookie minicamp.

Sheffield, a cornerback from Ohio State, and Green, a running back/returner from Louisiana-Monroe, took part in the walk-through portions.

Also, during the open session on Thursday, we’ll get to see how much work safety Keanu Neal (knee) and free safety Ricardo Allen (Achilles) are doing.

From photos published by the team, they didn’t appear to have on helmets on the first day of OTAs.


8. Offensive line watch. Rookie guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary lined up on the right side during rookie minicamp.

Offensive line coach Chris Morgan’s line combinations will be closely watched.

9. Updated depth chart.  With the rookie minicamp over, we can stack the 90-man depth chart as the Falcons are in phase three of the offseason program.

Lindstrom and McGary are expected to start, but you have to put them behind veterans until they “earn” the starting spots.

Also, Matt Gono has taken over jersey No. 73, while Ra’Shede Hageman got his old No. 77 jersey back.

Here’s a look at the depth chart:


WR 11 Julio Jones, 14, Justin Hardy, 83 Russell Gage, 13 Christian Blake, 16 Shawn Bane 
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 John Wetzel, 73 Matt Gono, 69 Lanard Bonner, 65 Jaelin Robinson 
LG 77 James Carpenter, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 60 Adam Gettis
C 51 Alex Mack, 61 Chandler Miller, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RG 68 Jamon Brown, 63 Chris Lindstrom, 64 Sean Harlow 
RT 74 Ty Sambrailo, 76 Kaleb McGary, 67 Devon Johnson
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 88 Luke Stocker, 82 Logan Paulsen, 85 Eric Saubert, 87 Jaeden Graham, 89 Alex Gray 
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Calvin Ridley, 15 Devin Gray, 19 Kahlil Lewis, 7 C.J. Worton, 17 Olamide Zaccheaus 
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 6 Kurt Benkert
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 25 Ito Smith, 23 Brian Hill, 38 Kenjon Barner, 30 Tony Brooks-James, 43 Marcus Green 
FB 30 Ricky Ortiz, 32 Qadree Ollison, 88 Luke Stocker


DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 56 Steven Means, 91 Chris Odom
DT 95 Jack Crawford, 96 Tyeler Davison, 94 Deadrin Senat, 50 John Cominsky, 77 Ra'Shede Hageman, 93 Michael Bennett, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner 
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 92 Justin Zimmer 
DE 98 Takk McKinley, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 50 John Cominsky
WLB 54 Foyesade Oluokun, 42 Duke Riley, 52 Yurik Bethune 
MLB 45 Deion Jones, 55 Bruce Carter, 49 Tre Crawford, 46 Del'Shawn Phillips 
SLB 59 De'Vondre Campbell, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 53 Jermaine Grace, 48 Durrant Miles 
CB 26 Isaiah Oliver, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 23 Jayson Stanley 
NCB 27 Damontae Kazee, 28 Jordan Miller 
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 39 Taveze Calhoun, 20 Kendall Sheffield, 32 Rashard CauseyFS 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman, 35 Afolabi Laguda, 43 Parker Baldwin 
SS 22 Keanu Neal, 37 J.J. Wilcox, 40 Ryan Neal, 34 Chris Cooper


K 4 Giorgio Tavecchio
KO 5 Matt Bosher 
P 5 Matt Bosher 
KR 38 Kenjon Barner, 18 Calvin Ridley
PR 14 Justin Hardy, 43 Marcus Green, 38 Kenjon Barner 
LS 47 Josh Harris, 48 Kyle Vasey
H 5 Matt Bosher


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