An open letter to Keanu Neal

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Keanu Neal (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Keanu Neal (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

It isn’t very often that a team’s enforcer is 24 years old or younger. From the very moment that Keanu Neal stepped on the field in Atlanta in 2016 at the young age of 21, he was the guy that no other team wanted to see.

We all know about the pop that Keanu Neal brings to the team, the leadership – which is also rare for a guy his age. Unfortunately though, for the second straight season, Keanu Neal is lost due to injury, but that isn’t what this article is about.

In July of 2016, I communicated with someone that Keanu Neal knew personally. As a Falcons fan, I was just making conversation with someone who personally knew the newcomer to my favorite football team.

We talked about Keanu and my fandom, and what happened next kind of sent me into fangirl mode. Keanu Neal messaged me personally. It wasn’t a super long message, it read “Rise up” I then replied something, that I won’t detail – but I also mentioned “now bring a ring to Atlanta” expecting no reply. He also replied to that one, “No doubt brother!”

Ever since that moment, Keanu Neal was not only one of my favorite Falcons, but one of my favorite players and people as a whole. Here’s a guy a few months after getting drafted, taking time out to message some stranger. It may not have been a lot, but it meant a lot to me.

Fast forward to now, and I can say that I even didn’t expect Neal to make the impact that he made with this football team. He became one of the hardest hitters and one of the bright young talents in the entire league.

That’s what makes this second injury more devastating. We all know how hard Keanu worked to get back onto the field and to basically be hurt the same exact way, it’s heartbreaking. Not only as a Falcons fan but as a human being.

dark. Next. It’s gut check time for the Atlanta Falcons

I personally wanted to thank Keanu Neal and to let him know that all Falcons fans support him and know that he will come back stronger. And all Falcons fans, I truly believe that this unfortunate injury will push the Falcons forward, and this team will show true heart.