Former Falcons attend 'Alumni Day'

Mike Kenn hadn't been to a Falcons "Alumni Day" in several years.

There he was on the sideline Tuesday, watching offensive line drills in sweltering conditions.

Kenn was part of a record turnout: More than 70 former Falcons, some from as far away as Indiana, converged on Flowery Branch for the annual event.

"I'm trying to see if they can break the jinx and actually have back-to-back winning seasons, so I'm here to support them in that regard," said Kenn, 53, who played tackle for 17 years and was inducted into the Ring of Honor.

"You've got a great environment here, great administration, a good coaching staff. Seems like they're making all the right moves."

Just about every former Falcon interviewed said this is the year the streak ends.

"Geez, I gotta hope so," said Lou Kirouac, one of six alumni from the 1966 inaugural team in attendance. "They've got a tough schedule, but if Matt [Ryan] stays healthy and with the acquisition of that tight end [Tony Gonzalez], they should do it."

Kirouac, Bob Whitlow, Gary Barnes and Bob Richards joked they had trouble putting together back-to-back wins, much less consecutive winning seasons. The Falcons went 3-11 and 1-12 their first two years.

Former players attributed the record turnout not to the team's success, but to the administration's eagerness to have them back. The alumni enjoyed a catered luncheon, heard from coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff, then watched practice.

"It's not about wins and losses," said Terance Mathis, who played wideout for the Falcons from 1994-2001. "It's just a credit to this organization to realize a lot of guys did put in their time and that it's an extended family. That's what it's all about."

Last year's event drew 50-plus players and that was a record then, according to Kevin Winston, senior director of player development.

William Andrews, who had more than 2,100 rushing and receiving yards in 1983, sounded a note of caution about this season.

"You never know what happens when you tee it up," said Andrews, who suffered a major knee injury in the 1984 preseason.

But he said those early 1980s teams "started something the younger guys ought to take notice of."

"If we didn't beat you, you got beat up," Andrews said. "If they can take that to heart, look at what we used to do here, create a legacy for themselves, it'll be a whole lot better."