Atlanta sports talk show hosts lick their wounds after Falcons loss

This was posted on Monday, February 6, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

For the past two weeks, the Super Bowl build up has been nirvana for Atlanta sports talk show hosts. They were able to take pride in a surprisingly robust Atlanta Falcons team with one of the best offenses in NFL history making the Super Bowl. They got to pick apart the unlikable New England Patriots. They embraced being the relative underdogs.

It all came down to Sunday night. And for a time, they could see the Lombardi Trophy in reach with the Falcons up 28-3 in the third quarter. They pictured the Atlanta victory parade up Peachtree Street. Then the wheels fell off.  The Patriots offered up 31 unanswered points to win in OT.

For most local sports talk show hosts, they can't help but become homers - and in the case of 92.9/The Game, the Falcons are their radio home base as well. So the emotional roller coaster was especially neck twisting for those who made their living talking about it. For them, the loss was like Old Yeller died.

"I wept like a child," texted Matt Chernoff, drive-time host on 680/The Fan. "The pain is real and it's going to hurt for a long time. My heart hurts for Atlanta sports fans."

His co host, Atlanta native Chuck Oliver, didn't bother to sugarcoat what could have been the best day ever in Atlanta sports history. Instead, to him, it was "the worst sports moment this city has ever had, ever."

John Michaels, mid-day host at 92.9/The Game, was pacing the sidelines in Houston at NRG Stadium, providing commentary for the radio station gamecast. He said he fell to his knees and cried when the Patriots won.

"It was a surreal vision to see New England's players running up and down the field, confetti flying everywhere, a stunned look on all our guys as we walked into the locker room."

He tried his best to be positive on Twitter in the early morning:

But this evening, he admitted, the pain hadn't faded. "I'm probably in as bad a place 20 hours ago," he said. "Utter utter disbelieve we're not home right now celebrating."

Michaels hopes by the end of the week, he'll be able to move forward and start focusing on the next season. Unfortunately, that's a long time. Training camp is six months away.

Doug Stewart, who hosts his own daily Spreaker talk show, said he has never seen a game like that before and that includes many a football match he was a part of when he was younger. On Sunday night, he attended a fraternity party at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot downtown with 1,300 of his brothers. The crowd went from crazy anticipatory excitement to stunned silence in less than an hour.

Today, he said he didn't feel any better. Mildly therapeutic: screaming and cursing into the mic during his show today.

This evening, he has begun wondering, on behalf of Atlanta: "Why is God mad at us?"

Ryan Cameron, who has been doing pre-game work for the Falcons and has to do his regular P.A. work with the Hawks, texted me one single word about his feelings 20 hours later: "Stunned." He pushed the positive in a Tweet he pinned to the top of his page.

Sandra Golden, mid-morning host on the Fan, called it "a sucker punch. It really felt like a death today. The calls were so emotional. Everyone took it really personally. They fell for this team. It brought our city together. We are stick to our stomach."

Steak Shapiro, her co host who grew up in Boston but has lived in Atlanta for nearly two decades, texted that he has never seen sports fans "so inconsolable and downtrodden." He said despite his Boston roots, "I wanted this game so badly for our city, our fans and am devastated."

"Atlanta was in a magical place the last four weeks, so much brotherhood and Community and connection. It is something the city desperately needed and now people are literally shellshocked," Shapiro added. "It felt like more than losing a game. It felt like losing a new identity that we were going to have."

On the lighter side, Mike Bell, afternoon host of 92.9/The Game, on Twitter said he's opting to drown his sorrows in alcohol.

Others can't even listen to their brethren, such as Rob Jenners at 680/The Fan:

Then again, not everyone lost sleep. John Kincade, afternoon host on the Fan, texted me that he's okay. Why? He's an Eagles fan.