The Hawks have joined the brotherhood.
Several Hawks players were in attendance for the Falcons’ 44-21 victory over the Packers in the NFC Championship game Sunday at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons now face the Patriots in Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 in Houston. They have dubbed their playoff run “In Brotherhood.”
The Hawks hope the enthusiasm and support for the Falcons remains in Atlanta when it comes time for their postseason run.
“I was very happy for our team to pull it off,” said Dwight Howard, who wore a No. 11 Julio Jones jersey. “Great for the city. I’m just so proud of the Falcons. … Them going into their new (stadium next season) with a Super Bowl ring would be great.”
Coincidentally, the Hawks play at the Rockets in Houston on Feb. 2, just three days before the NFL title game.
In addition to Howard, players Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Mike Dunleavy (a Packers fan) and CEO Steve Koonin attended the game.
Millsap did not witness the piece of Falcons’ history from a luxury suite. He chose to watch from the stands.
“It was great,” Millsap said. “I was actually in the midst of it. I was fan in the midst of the crowd. I felt the energy of the (Georgia) Dome. It was amazing. While doing that, you hope that one day your stadium is like that – our stadium is full and the fans are going crazy. Our fans have done a good job of doing that and hopefully it continues to get better.”
He said he was a part of the crowd because he wanted to experience “the full effect” of the victory.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he watched the Falcons win from home. He was in attendance for the victory over the Seahawks the previous week, a game many thought would be the final football played in the Georgia Dome. However, when the Packers defeated the Cowboys last weekend, the Falcons earned the right to host the NFC Championship for one final contest before the Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next season.
No surprisingly but even with the Falcons’ potent offensive attack, Budenholzer credited the defensive effort.
“The Falcons are rolling,” Budenholzer said. “It’s so much fun. It’s so much fun to watch them. They are so good on both sides of the ball. Everybody talks about how great they are offensively, defensively what they were able to do the first half and really the whole game, it’s just fun to watch a team that is playing that well and that together.
“The city is excited for them. The energy in the dome was great. We send lots of good luck and hope for the best over the next two weeks in the Super Bowl.”
Following the Hawks victory over the 76ers on Saturday, the eve of the NFC Championship, Howard stood by his preseason prediction of a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl. On Monday, he admitted an allegiance to the AFC representative but said he is pulling for his hometown Falcons.
“The Patriots have been my favorite team because of Tom Brady and he wore No. 12,” Howard said. “That my number for a long time. Anybody who wore No. 12, I was rooting for them. Tom Brady, Randy Moss and those guys, I fell in love with them. Now, I’m torn. But I want to see the hometown team win. I think it would be great for our city and just bring people together.”
As an Atlanta sports fan, Howard admitted to some degree of nervousness when the Packers finally scored their first touchdown – even though it made the score 31-7 in the third quarter.
“The crowd got nervous even though you know we are going to win the game,” Howard said.