Carolyn Freeman, who’s also known as the Bird Lady, has been selected as one of the 28 Bud Light NFL Super Fans. (Four teams have deals with another beer company).
Freeman, of Stone Mountain, who has been dressing up and attending the games for years, is the lone female of the group.
Freeman had been bedridden for 12 years when she saw one of her Falcons come back from what was thought to be a career ending injury. She started attending games as a form of physical therapy.
Here’s what she had to say:
Q: How did you fall in love with your team?
A: “I can't remember a time when I didn't love them or they weren't a part of my life. However, '98 was the year that I realized my destiny. If I wanted to continue to live with any quality of life ... it was in 1998 that the Falcons saved my life. After lying in bed for 12 years, I saw Gerald Riggs preparing to return to the game after the same surgery I was told would keep me in bed for life. It inspired me to get up, shed the wheelchair, crutches, braces, and walker to start attending games to get some form of physical therapy, activity, which led to me getting my name and the rest is history!”
Q: What is your first memory around your NFL team?
A: “Watching the games with my dad and always being by his side when he discussed the Falcons with his friends, I was so intrigued even at a young age. Hooked immediately! Many years later, sometime around '92 or '93, I attended a game. I wasn't a season ticket holder yet. I was going to about five to six games per year. I had a custom made jersey with my name on the back in metallic silver embroidery. I was in a front row, end zone seat. The next day, I was front-page news! They labeled me as "The Macon Super Fan". Since the tickets were purchased through a ticket company in Macon, I guess they knew I was from Macon. They deemed me a bit over the top in leading the crowd and team with an infectious spirit. I didn't see it. I was shocked the next week when I arrived at The Dome and someone asked me (for an autograph).”
Q: What distinguishes you from other fans of your team?
A: “Well, I'm The Bird Lady! I didn't decide to be a superfan; the players gave me that title. I became a superfan out of a need to get up and out of the bed for physical therapy to save my life.
Q: In what other ways has this helped you?
A: “I have branded myself for 18 years. I have used this platform to form my own non-profit, BirdLady Cares, Inc. It does amazing things for so many people and children. I also work with several national charity organizations.”
Q: How did you develop your costume and and your superfan persona?
A: “As for my costume, I have never repeated an outfit in 18 years at The Dome. The only constant is that I wear my wings, as they are custom designed for every outfit. I was anointed "BirdLady" 18 years ago by Falcon legends Jessie Tuggle and Jamal Anderson. They named me after I interrupted their conversation to ask Jamal to dance with me doing his famous "Dirty Bird" routine. When he refused and insisted that I dance, even though I was on crutches, I immediately began shaking my bottom and flapping my arms. They began to laugh; Jessie commented that I was his "Dirty Bird." Jamal then said, "No, That's our "BirdLady!" I have remained a loyal and recognizable fan ever since."
With only four regular-season games left in the Georgia Dome, we'll check in the BirdLady to see how she has to do in her role and Super Fan and how she plans to close out with her last four outfits.
GAME EIGHT: Falcons 33, Packers 32
GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT
GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24
GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16
GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33
GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24