Atlanta’s sports fans received a punch in the gut.
Two of the city’s most beloved sports figures, Freddie Freeman (and Matt Ryan) were both gone in a single week.
Freeman was the first to leave, his hopes of playing a full career with the World Series champion Braves dashed when contract negotiations went sour.
After the NFL’s inept attempt to line up his successor as quarterback, Ryan was traded by the Falcons for a third-round draft pick.
Two MVPs will be taking the field against A-T-L. They have combined 26 seasons of experience.
It will be very strange indeed.
After reporting to spring training, Braves reliever Will Smith stated that “the first day, obviously was kind of shock,” 5 are no longer available.
“You can’t replace a guy like Freddie. He was a star. He was a professional’s professional, and he did it every day. It is a business. We have to move on.”
Ryan was the Falcons’ quarterback for 14 seasons. He is a great example of consistency and can be argued as the greatest player in the history of the team.
He was the skinny kid from Boston College, who helped to stabilize a franchise that had been shaken by Bobby Petrino’s resignation as head coach and Michael Vick’s conviction for dogfighting.
Ryan’s first pass was a 62 yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins. This rookie was a special player when he led an unlikely victory over the Chicago Bears.
Mike Smith, then-coach of Matt Smith, said that Matt has ‘it’. “We don’t know what ‘it’ is, but he has ‘it.
Freeman had also “it”, stepping up as the Braves’ face after Chipper Jones, the last link to their greatest era, retired.
Freeman was only 21 when he was called up to the majors in 2010. He was the first baseman for the Braves the next season. Freeman signed an eight-year contract to show his loyalty to the Braves as they were going through a difficult rebuilding process.
The Braves were once again at the top of the NL East by 2018, Freeman being surrounded with a new group young stars.
Last season, they won their first World Series title in 26 years, with Freeman playing a starring role in the postseason and, appropriately enough, catching the final out of their championship-clinching victory in Houston.
Freeman stated that he wants to remain with the Braves. This made it even more bizarre last week, when the team announced a deal for another first-baseman.
Atlanta traded four of its top prospects for Matt Olson to the Oakland Athletics. He was quickly signed to one of the largest franchise contracts — an eight-year $168-million package.
Freeman seemed as shocked to be as anyone, according to all accounts. The Braves were no longer an option for the free agent, so he signed a $62 million, six-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He was certain he didn’t really intend to leave the Braves.
Freeman, who was being introduced as the newest member the Dodgers, said that he didn’t know what was about to happen. “When I was told, my emotions were all over. I was unable to speak for several hours trying to understand what was happening.
The Braves look great even without Freeman.
They also signed Olson, a long-time closer for the Dodgers, and brought back Eddie Rosario, postseason hero.
The prospects for the Falcons after Ryan are not as bright.
The team has not been able to recover from a loss of a 28-3 lead during the 2017 Super Bowl. They’ve lost four straight seasons even with Ryan.
The Falcons made an ingenious pitch for Deshaun Watson, despite having huge salary cap problems and many holes to fill. The Falcons looked like the favourite for the Georgia native as he narrowed down his options to the Falcons or the rival New Orleans Saints. However, Watson changed his mind and signed a huge deal with the Cleveland Browns.
The Falcons ended up looking downright stupid, rather than Ryan’s successor.
After such humiliation, Matty Ice could not stay in Atlanta, so the Indianapolis Colts took him out for a single second-day draft pick.
He was in Indy by Tuesday, still holding his blue No. 2 jersey.
Back in Atlanta, the Falcons are in a full-scale rebuilding mode, having signed first rounder-turned-journeyman Marcus Mariota as their new quarterback.
Arthur Blank, Falcons owner, stated that “this business is not without its difficulties.” “While it’s one of the most difficult decisions that we’ve had to make as a club,” Blank said. “We feel it is in both Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons best interests.”
It was still difficult to comprehend. Ryan, a Philadelphia native settled in Atlanta with Sarah and their twin boys, the “Ice Cubes”.
Sarah Ryan tweeted, “I’m crying, you’re not crying,” “Forever grateful for this team, fanbase and city!”
A gut punch, indeed.