In the hours following Atlanta's loss in Super Bowl LI, players expressed a desire to get right back to work – to channel (and perhaps alleviate) their emotions by undergoing physical stress in the gym. Their coaches, however, suggested a different approach.
Given how much wear and tear the Falcons have endured since training camp began, they've been advised to take some time off. Doing so will require a drastic shift in mindset for a group that played 23 games this year.
Such a change isn't easy, and few know how to handle it like Sean Weatherspoon, who, due to multiple injuries, has made just 25 regular-season appearances in the last four years.
"The key? Get away, but don't get fat," he said with a laugh. "You've got to go home. You've got to get away."
"You've got to find something, because we're used to being scheduled," added Ricardo Allen. "So find something to do with your family. Find something to do outside of football. Find a small hobby – something that's not going to take up too much time, but something that can help you keep your mind going."
As the players went through checkout physicals and meetings on Tuesday, Atlanta's staff gave its players eight-week workout programs to use until the team reconvenes at Flowery Branch. Because some Falcons played a lot more than others in 2016, and because each body is unique, every program was tailored for a specific person.
"It was really individualized by the player," head coach Dan Quinn said. "We've got some guys that want to go for it in the biggest way. They're hurting bad just like our fans are, and players are so part of that. Healing is the work because that's how you get better.
"So for the guys who are wanting to do that right away, that means the page is getting ready to be turned, and that's what I hoped it would be. Not everybody's ready to turn it yet, but as it gets towards the end of the week and moving forward, we're going to throw a great offseason."
Of course, mentally recovering from the loss is important, too. As Quinn said during his Tuesday press conference, he wants his team to dissect the film of Sunday's game, learn some important lessons and put it behind them.
Weatherspoon believes that's the right tactic.
"You've got to clear your head from this. You get the closure by watching the tape and you just move on. You can't feel sorry about it," he said. "I think that's something I've dealt with. Whenever you have something rough, adversity, you have to approach it in the most positive way and come back at it. Don't let it break you. Allow it to help mold you. And I think that's something we can take from this experience."