FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes Atlanta's strong showing as host city for Super Bowl LIII as well as two Falcons ranking among the top 50 NFL players in merchandise sold.
While the 13-3 New England Patriots victory against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history, wasn't the final note Atlanta was looking for, the host city put forth a good showing throughout the week, as Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
For a city known for its eternal traffic jams and unpredictable weather careens, Atlanta's week of Super Bowl events went off rather smoothly. The game, itself, wasn't the spectacle NFL fans have come to expect, but, as Bradley notes, Atlanta can feel proud of how it presented itself.
"Among non-blowout Super Bowls, this one rivaled the fifth installment — the one between the Colts and Cowboys in January 1971 pockmarked by 11 turnovers — as the least compelling. Even Patriots fans will find it tough to get the warm-and-fuzzies when recalling this one.
"In a way, though, that's another victory for Atlanta. The best part of Super Bowl LIII had nothing to do with the game or the forgettable-by-design halftime show. The best part of SB LIII was its host city, which was, believe it or not, us."
To read the rest of Bradley's column, click here.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
Pro Football Talk: McKay says expanding instant replay 'very complicated'
According to a report by Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith, NFL Competition Committee Chairman and Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay recently told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the expansion of instant replay to include challenging penalties could be challenging.
"Anything is possible," McKay told Mortensen. "We've always considered expanding reviewable plays under the replay system . . . but it's a very complicated discussion."
This particular topic of debate has flared back up in recent weeks after a no-call on what many believe was pass interference late in the NFC Championship Game played a major role in the Los Angeles Rams emerging with an overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints.
To read the rest of Smith's report, click here.
AJC: Two Falcons among NFL's top-selling stars
The NFL, like all sports leagues, is driven greatly by star power. The Falcons have had a few nationally recognized superstars in their history – Deion Sanders and Michael Vick come to mind – and they have two players on their current roster who ranked among the NFL's top 50 players in merchandise sold.
According to the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List, which accounts for all officially licensed NFL player products and merchandised sold from March 1, 2018 to Nov. 30, 2018, Falcons receiver Julio Jones was 24th among all player sales and quarterback Matt Ryan was 50th among all player sales.
Ryan, the league's MVP in 2016, remains one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and is coming off another strong season, statistically. And Jones is very much at the forefront of the conversation for the No. 1 receiver in the NFL, consistently making difficult plays look routine.
To see the entire player sales list, click here.