Falcons coach Mike Smith, several players and assistant coaches hosted 30 military veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan during a fishing outing and cookout at Lake Lanier on Wednesday.
Smith spoke to the group Tuesday night at Flowery Branch High. He thanked the local fisherman who volunteered their boats and equipment in order to make the sixth annual event possible.
“I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all that you do for our country,” Smith said to the veterans.
A total of 15 veterans were from Fort Gordon near Augusta. The other half of the group was from the national Wounded Warrior Project.
Some of the players at the event were defensive tackle Corey Peters, offensive tackle Sam Baker, right guard Garrett Reynolds, center/guard Joe Hawley, linebacker Brian Banks, kicker Matt Bryant and punter Matt Bosher.
Smith as the closer: During his 17 years as a college assistant coach, Smith had to close on a few recruits.
As coach of the Falcons, he hopped on a plane earlier this offseason, flew to California and made his final pitch for tight end Tony Gonzalez to return.
Smith revealed his role in helping Gonzalez decide to return for his 17th season recently at the team’s state of the franchise event for season-ticket holders.
“I said ‘Tony, I’ll tell you what, I don’t want to do this on the phone,” Smith said, according to the team’s website. “Let me hop on a plane, come out and have dinner with you, and let’s really talk about this.’ So we went out and had dinner and had an opportunity to talk. The chances of him playing were kind of bending a little bit.”
Summer school: The Falcons start their organized team activities (OTAs) Tuesday. Live contact is prohibited during OTAs, but the Falcons can conduct 7-on-7, 9-on-9 and team (11-on-11) drills.
The Falcons will hold 10 OTA practices over the next three weeks before holding their mandatory minicamp June 18-20. All practices of the OTAs are closed to the public. The minicamp will be open to the public.