Dec. 8, 2016 will forever be an important date to the Alford family.
Robert Alford picked up the phone to call his mom and wish her happy birthday. He then told her about the present he would be giving her, one that will drastically change her life.
Earlier in the day, Alford received a phone call from his agent telling him his team would be extending his contract, keeping him an Atlanta Falcon for the foreseeable future.
"I tried to play it off [like] I was just calling to wish her happy birthday, she thought I was just calling [for that]," Alford said. "Then I waited a minute then I broke it down to her. She went crazy."
Not only does Alford's contract extension provide him stability in his profession, it also gives him the opportunity to do something he's always wanted to do.
Buy his mom a house.
This will be Alford's first purchase, something he's dreamed of since he started playing football.
"I'm very blessed, that's all I can say," Alford said. "I've always been underlooked. Even when I was in high school, I wasn't highly recruited. I went to a Southeastern Louisiana, a small school. For me, it's just always just been a grind. Head down and just grind. I had a dream and I had to work to get it, and now I see it's paying off."
Alford has evolved into the Falcons' No. 2 cornerback after being selected as a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. His speed and ball-hawking ability have been huge assets to Atlanta's defense: His nine career interceptions are the most among current Falcons.
"It's the speed that he plays with out on the outside," head coach Dan Quinn said of what makes Alford so important in Atlanta's defense. "The ability to match up on different guys. He's got the versatility to also play nickel. It's the speed No. 1 that sets him off. He has a real awareness for the football, in terms of going after it and having a ball-hawking mentality."
The Falcons possess a young, talented secondary, making this extension even more critical so the group can keep their continuity building.
"It's big, we know each other's tendencies," Alford said. "Just to be here, to be able to build for a championship here with the guys I've been here with, it feels awesome."