Joining the Falcons is truly a full circle moment for me.
Atlanta has felt like home since I was a kid. Born in Pensacola, Fla., just 340 miles south of Atlanta, I would visit frequently to see family, explore the city, and catch Falcons games during the Michael Vick era. I still remember when Vick and the Falcons defeated the then St. Louis Rams in the first round of the 2004 NFL playoffs. You could literally feel the liveliness throughout Atlanta after that win.
- Positional breakdowns: Quarterbacks; Running backs; Receivers/Tight ends
- Bair Mail: On Arthur Smith and Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, plus a lot more
- Falcons Building Blocks: Kyle Pitts, AJ Terrell, Chris Lindstrom, Drake London
- Finding the Falcons rookie class: Drake London, Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen; Desmond Ridder; DeAngelo Malone, Tyler Allgeier, Justin Shaffer, John FitzPatrick
I quickly fell in love with the city, its culture and its people. Even then, I knew I'd be back here one day. And here I am, moving back to the city for a second time, actually, to become AtlantaFalcons.com's features writer.
Since I can remember, sports have always been a part of my life. If I wasn't playing them, I was reading about them or watching them on television.
Stuart Scott was my hero growing up. I loved watching sports and I admired the way he delivered stories.
He was fearless. He was lively and colorful. Yet, even with his enthusiastic approach, he did not take away from the message, delivering it with truth and integrity. He's a big reason why storytelling through the lens of sports grew into a passion.
So is my great grandfather.
In 2008, after moving from Pensacola to Pittsburgh, Pa., my family and I would often go over to his house on NFL Sundays for fellowship and to catch all the action on his giant flatscreen.
He'd always ask me football-related questions and I would swiftly answer back with something about a stat, player or team. We'd talk and debate for hours on all things football, from the 1970's Steel Curtain era down to Roddy White and the Atlanta Falcons. Those simple moments with the man we affectionately called Papa would put things into perspective for me later in life.
In the summer of 2014, my family and I moved back to Florida, this time to Tallahassee, where I would finish my last three years of high school. By the time my senior year of high school came around, I had no direction on what exactly I wanted to do.
What I did know was I loved the art of storytelling through the lens of sports. After my football and basketball seasons ended, I realized playing professional sports wasn't a realistic option. I decided to apply to Clark Atlanta University, less than a mile away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, to study in their Mass Media Arts program. Many notable writers, such as Bomani Jones, Kenya Barris and Spike Lee, have all walked those same hallways. Like I mentioned before, I knew I'd find my way back to Atlanta.
My high school didn't have a newspaper, so I had no journalism experience prior to stepping foot onto Clark Atlanta's campus. Towards the end of my freshman year, I joined the student led The CAU Panther newspaper. With the sports editor at that time graduating, I knew I was next to take the torch. Stepping into the challenging role of leading the sports section for three years was life changing.
This opportunity led me to rewarding internships and fellowships that have been instrumental in molding me into a better journalist. One of my most memorable stories was a feature on Super Bowl LV winning defensive back, Ryan Smith. We talked about his time at North Carolina Central University, where he played alongside his younger brother, the clothing brand he started during the pandemic and how attending an HBCU ultimately prepared him for the NFL.
These are the stories I plan to tell for the Atlanta Falcons. The stories about who the players are on and off the field and their journeys to the NFL. I'm excited to join this world-class organization, that is rich in history and culture, alongside so many talented people. I look forward to taking you all on the next phase of my journey, back in Atlanta again, as the Falcons features writer.
As I said earlier, everything always comes back full circle.