We've all entered contests in our lives, but we rarely expect to win.
When Bryn Richardson's co-worker told him about the NFL's Fan Flag Challenge, he didn't think much about the chances of winning. The Norcross, Ga., native put his design training and telecommunications background as a member of the Academic Technology Support Lab at Georgia State University to work and considered what he would want a Falcons flag to look like.
"I wanted a flag that represented the city coming together for one common purpose, to support the Falcons," Richardson said. "The theme of the flag is rising up as a city. Atlanta is a very diverse area, kind of a melting pot from around the country and the world."
While the contest didn't request fans to submit actual designs, Richardson was asked to explain his concept and the appearance of the flag.
"As far as a design standpoint, I wanted to see more black, with red accents f
or the colors of the Falcons," he said. "And incorporate the skyline, because that's what we're known for. Everybody thinks of us as the home of the Southeast and the theme of rising up."
The 28-year old has been a Falcons fan his entire life and the Falcons' signature statement of the community of fans, "Rise Up," really spoke to him, so it was only natural to draw inspiration from it, but he still never expected to win.
When he received the email notifying him he'd won, he thought he was just a finalist in the contest. It took that same co-worker who told him about the contest to read the email and help him realize his design proposal won.
"When she told me that, all the hair on my arms stood up," he said. "I had goosebumps because I realized that I had won. It was a surreal moment."
Richardson called his wife on his break to share the good news and a month later he was on his way to New York City to join the 31 other winners, representing every franchise in the NFL. Each winner won a three day, two night trip to New York City and the opportunity to participate in the NFL's Kickoff activities, including a lunch with Commissioner Roger Goodell at the league offices, a ceremony at Rockefeller Center and tickets to tonight's Giants-Cowboys game at MetLife Stadium, the league's Kickoff 2012 game.
Additionally, Richardson will get a flag that his design inspirations created.
For Richardson it was well worth taking the time to enter the contest, write a few paragraphs about his Falcons fandom and imagine a flag of his own creation. Although he didn't believe it at first, he won and he takes pride in being able to represent the entire Falcons community with his flag design.
He'll bring that pride back from New York to Atlanta, where he and his flag will be flying high at the Falcons' Week 2 Monday night game against the Denver Broncos.