Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Falcons coach Dan Quinn: The winner who went to dinner

HOUSTON -- Not to go all "TMZ" here, but esteemed colleague Tim Tucker and I were escorted to our seats at Vic & Anthony's last night, and who should I spy with my little eye at the next table but ...

Dan Quinn. And assorted Falcons staffers.

The last thing coaches want on a night out is to see journalists. They've seen too much of us already, and they're about to see a whole lot more. (Four consecutive days of media opportunities -- that's overkill for us, too.) But you can't really ignore someone you know, either, especially when that someone is at the next table.  So I said hi to DQ and got on with the business of gorging myself. (Apologies in advance to our accounting department. I didn't order from the $1 Menu.)

After his crew finished, Quinn walked over. It struck me that I almost never see him in civilian clothes, but here he was wearing a dark sports coat and a blue-checked shirt. Maybe that was the reason -- Tim noticed this -- that nobody approached him during his meal for autographs or selfies. "Do you think that would have been the same if Belichick and his coaches were sitting in this restaurant?" Tim asked.

(Probably not. But Belichick would have had a private room and armed guards and would have forced the waiters to sign confidentiality agreements.)

I mentioned to Quinn that -- setting journalistic objectivity aside for a second -- this run of his team's has been neat to watch. He said that Sunday's sendoff at Atlantic Station had been a moving experience. "I really felt it then," he said.

Then he was gone, and Tim and I congratulated ourselves on our dining choice. We'd come to the restaurant because it was a five-minute walk and Open Table took our reservation on short notice. Quinn and his merry men had ridden in from the Westin Memorial City, which is 20 minutes away. And it reminded me of another Super Bowl meal at another place bearing an ampersand.

It was 2002 in New Orleans. Esteemed colleague Matt Winkeljohn and I had ducked into Smith & Wollensky on Poydras Street late on a Tuesday. (Might have been Wednesday, come to think of it.) There weren't many people dining at that hour, but in walked Robert Kraft, who owned/owns the Patriots, who were massive underdogs against the Rams in that Super Bowl. I remember feeling kind of sorry for what I figured was about to happen to his team.

His team won 20-17. I now think of myself as a good-luck charm. If you have a team about to play for the championship and you and I wind up in the same eatery, you're in for more than a nice meal.

Further Falcons:

Falcons arrive, are mistaken (by my Uber driver) for a funeral.

Hope for the Falcons: The Patriots' defense isn't really No. 1.

Football Outsiders: 'Nightmare' scenario sees Falcons blown out.

The Falcons are headed to the game that defies simulation.

A revealing take on Matt Ryan from someone who knows him well.

Memo to Boston: I won't apologize for Atlanta or the Falcons.

The Falcons are underdogs, but they absolutely can win.

Facing the hated Patriots, the Falcons are now America's Team.

A Super day: Atlanta domination, Atlanta validation.

The matchup: These Falcons against Atlanta history.

The Falcons have been here before; most of these Falcons haven't.

How the soaring Falcons rebuilt on the fly.

ESPN: The 49ers will offer Kyle Shanahan their head coaching job.

In Aaron Rodgers, the Falcons will be facing the NFL's Michael Jordan.

(Gulp) Here comes Aaron Rodgers. But the Falcons will still win.

If I'm the Falcons, I'm rooting for Dallas. (Yes, Dallas.)

The ascendant Falcons make short work of Seattle.

Don't fret over these Falcons: They're too good to flop.

Reviewing October's epic Falcons-Seahawks game.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.