The Atlanta Falcons are home to one of the most underrated curses in sports. It’s with running backs. We know about the Madden Curse and the Cleveland Browns, whose entire organization seems snake bit (good luck Austin Hooper) but this one, well it’s a little odd.
Fortunately, it shouldn’t affect the Atlanta Falcons newly acquired running back Todd Gurley. At least not yet. But for Devonta Freeman, well, he’s gonna get a shot at breaking it. Maybe. Let’s take a trip all the way back to 2005 when this unfortunate plague began to take hold.
Running backs that were impactful in a Falcons uniform that got released, when on to do, well nothing. It’s kind of weird. For a while there, it seemed like has-been players would go to Oakland where they would see their careers die out. But if you’re a running back and you don’t want to play anymore, come to Atlanta, give us at least two years, get cut, and you’re good.
First, it was T.J Duckett, he was the power back in the Atlanta Falcons DVD backfield. You remember, Dunn, Vick, Duckett. Short yardage situations, the man couldn’t be stopped. He averaged 138 carries a year with the Falcons during his four seasons in Atlanta. Had a career-high 11 touchdowns one year. What happened after he got cut? Bounced around to three teams, never carried the ball more than 65 times in a single year, and after one year with each team, he didn’t take another carry in the NFL.
Oh and his teammate Warrick Dunn, in his six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, rushed for over 1,000 yards three times. In fact, he may be the most successful cut running back. He played only one more year after leaving Atlanta, it was a homecoming with Tampa Bay. He only started six games and scored twice before he was out of the league. So hey, not anything worthwhile.
The best case is Michael “The Burner” Turner. He was as important to the Falcons turning things
around as was picking Matt Ryan. After being the second choice in San Diego for all those years, Turner was fresh and ready to rumble, and that he did. In his five years in Atlanta, he played in all 16 games four times and started at least 15 games all four of those times. Turner had two Pro Bowl seasons and the Falcons let him go when he was only 30 years old. He never played another down in the NFL.
Remember Steven Jackson’s futile two years in Atlanta. Rushed for six touchdowns each year behind a rather horrid offensive line. Well, he left the Falcons at age 31, only had 21 more carries in his career in two games. That is what we call a curse.
(Yes, it’s too early to tell for Tevin Coleman)
Now, enter Devonta Freeman. He’s only 27, been in the league six years, and to the Pro Bowl twice but man some of his biggest memories have been massive blunders. Mainly a huge missed block in the Super Bowl. Well, Atlanta cut him, rightfully so, and in the age where running backs aren’t valued as much as they used to be. Who knows if he’ll find a home before the season starts.
But even if he does, and he never comes close to what he was before being out of the league in three years, then we’ll know- when the Atlanta Falcons give up on a running back, it’s truly the end.