As part of the NFL's Legends initiative, former Atlanta Falcons players had an opportunity to attend a reception before the Thursday Night Football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Atlanta Falcons hosted the team's Legends, alumni that have been retired from the game of football, at the Philips Arena Taco Mac, prior to the team's big win Thursday night over their division rival, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The gathering of these men and their families was reminiscent of a big family reunion and when you think about it, that's exactly what it was. No matter how long you are part of a football team, it becomes a close-knit brotherhood. The blood, sweat and tears prove that.
Most of the Legends, having not seen each other since the banquet the year before, look forward to this annual event. It's a way for them to reminisce and reconnect with guys they played next to, even guys they played against, as well as a chance to meet newer, younger faces.
"Looking at history and some of the older guys and what they did and how this (Falcons franchise) actually started, and to look at where they are at now, I always admire the older players," said Ray Buchanan, former cornerback for the Falcons. "You get a chance to see how everyone is doing."
As they arrived, former teammates doled out hugs and high-fives to each other and even shared a few intricate handshakes with those they were close to. Immediately, the name calling and locker-room stories ensued, followed by bellowing laughter.
"For me, it's so awesome to come here and to hug and to talk and (converse) with the guys who contributed to not only my success, but the success of the Falcons, throughout the years," said Jamal Anderson, former running back for the Falcons.
These men, whether they are recently retired from the National Football League or have been for 30-plus years, are all still big fans of the team they once called theirs. And the bond that existed between teammates years ago still exists and continues to grow even stronger as the years go on.
"It's awesome for the Falcons to recognize so many of the former players who have been here, so many of the former legends who have contributed to the organization…working hard every Sunday to make the Falcons better," said Anderson. "Any time you get a chance to honor the guys who've played before, I think it's fantastic."