The Update 3/24: Matt Ryan is gone + other news
The end of an era - The Update: 3/24/2022
Welcome to my newsletter by me, King Williams. A documentary filmmaker, journalist, podcast host, and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a newsletter covering the hidden connections of Atlanta to everything else.
Tonight from 6-8pm, I am moderating a series of micro fireside chats on the history of the Black press for The Atlanta Voice. The event will be held at Refuge Coffee at the historic Atlanta Daily World Building on Auburn Avenue. The event is free and you can RSVP here.
Atlanta Waste Management is hosting a how-to make your own rain barrel workshop on April 14th and several other dates this summer. Register here.
The Candler Park Music Festival has announced its 2022 lineup. Tickets here.
Red Clay News:
Atlanta Gospel singer LaShun Pace has died at age 60.
Governor Kemp has signed off on giving Georgians a tax refund of up to $400.
Kwanzaa Hall is running for Lt. Governor.
Former Kasim Reed supporter Mitzi Bickers has been found guilty of 9 felonies.
MARTA has been awarded $1 million to explore Clayton County transit
APD is claiming arrests in 72% of killings this year.
A Georgia teen has been accepted to over 50 colleges and granted over $1 million in scholarship offers.
Clayton County is now claimed as metro Atlanta’s hottest housing market.
Cobb has punted its transit referendum until 2024.
Starbucks has introduced a plan to phase out its disposal cups to be replaced by users bringing their own.
One million new millionaires were created in the US last year.
Credit reporting agencies will now wipe out most medical debts from records.
The US Senate has confirmed Shalanda Young as the first Black woman to lead the White House budget office.
Digital payment site Klarna is allowing customers to purchase gas using IOU payment installments.
Wells Fargo rejected 53% of Black mortgage applicants in 2020.
Former first ever US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died.
The US is offering $5 million to snitch on oligarch yachts, jets, and mansions.
Hong Kong has scrapped a plan to ban flights from countries with lax covid-19 responses including the US as a new covid strain moves through China.
Israel has discovered two new covid variants.
New Zealand is opening its doors to tourists for the first time in two years.
Matt Ryan is no longer an Atlanta Falcon
In a shock to many, the Atlanta Falcon’s longest-tenured and most successful quarterback Matt Ryan has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts. Ryan’s trade is a culmination 5 years in the making but this trade posits an Atlanta Falcons team at a crossroads as it considers what another rebuild will look like.
Ryan’s trade came as a shock to some fans, as the quarterback’s trade was the result of a recently botched trade attempt to bring in the Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson, a Gainesville, Georgia native was considering the Falcons, including the team believing they had Watson until a last-minute move to the Cleveland Browns for a record-setting, 5-year $230 million, fully guaranteed contract. Watson’s deal also would’ve put the Falcons in an awkward social position as the quarterback is facing 22 civil charges related to sexual assault. Watson’s seemingly lax treatment by the league and other teams regarding his accusations is in a long line of the NFL’s controversies involving women. Even those in the c-suites.
It’s more surprising Deshaun Watson and the Falcons made their trade talks this far. Considering how relatively controversy-free the organization has been since the team’s tumultuous 2007 season. Well until the last thirty days as before the recent Matt Ryan-Deshaun Watson debacle, wide receiver Calvin Ridley was caught by the league gambling on a game he was playing in.
Matt Ryan entered a lose-lose scenario
Prior to the 2007 departure, Vick was the cultural and box office figure for a struggling Atlanta Franchise. Not since the days of Deion Sanders in the 1990s as a member of both the Braves and Falcons produced a player that was as culturally relevant. That relevancy of Sanders, a Black, flashy, and socially dynamic football (and baseball) player in ‘the Black Mecca’ was amplified in the tenure of Vick. Vick was a Black quarterback in the Black city, at its demographic peak, and the beginning of the national rise of Atlanta hip hop. Vick was seen in rap videos, at the club, becoming a video game legend in the Madden 2004 NFL video game, and in several commercials.
Michael Vick, Dogfighting, and the racial backlash overtones
Black Atlanta had their player, so when the backlash to dogfighting emerged many within the city felt the hypocrisy in how Vick was treated, including his two-year prison sentence. Especially as former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens compared the backlash to dogfighting versus hunting. Which prompted several think pieces from white sportswriters on Vick’s inhumanity for killing dogs and his ‘sordid’ life.
From ESPN’s 8/25/2011 article, ‘If Michael Vick We’re White’:
Here's another question: If Vick grew up with the paternal support that white kids are more likely to have (72 percent percent of black children are born to unwed mothers compared with 29 percent of white children), would he have been involved in dogfighting? I ask this not to look for an excuse but to explore the roots of his behavior. Vick's stunningly stupid moral breakdown with respect to dogs is certainly related to the culture of the world he grew up in, which he says fully embraced dogfighting. But it's also related to the household he grew up in.
Vick's father, Michael Boddie, was not a positive influence on him growing up. Boddie admitted to The Washington Post that he was a cocaine user and had been high and drunk around young Vick. He says he often prepared the family garage so Vick could have pit bull fights there.
This level of white backlash was almost in opposition to Black Atlanta’s perception of dogs, dogfighting, and Mike Vick. It’s not an endorsement of animal cruelty but rather the extent to which white Americans value their dogs, alongside Black life. Especially how the switch gets flipped on Black athletes. Especially when there is a need for perceived punishment.
Matt Ryan was the anti-Michael Vick
Ryan was selected in 2008 after the franchise had to move on from the abrupt suspension and subsequent jail time from franchise-defining quarterback Michael Vick in 2007. Matt Ryan was always a hard sell even in the best of times.
From The New York Times, 10/25/2008 - Black fans warm to 'Vanilla Vick'
…Vick had reached the mountaintop for black athletes in team sports by becoming a starting NFL quarterback. In Atlanta, with a population 56 percent black within city limits and 31 percent metro-wide, his ascendancy was reason to celebrate. The Vick love affair advanced because of his eye-pleasing, heart-pounding style of play: an unfettered jazz musician in contrast to the rigid pop star who portrays the typical quarterback.
The selection of Ryan, a straight-laced, White quarterback from Boston College, was always going to be a hard sell in Atlanta. Even Ryan’s reliance on remaining in the pocket (behind the players), was a stark contrast to the pass and run style of Michael Vick, something he was criticized heavily for during his time, but is now the standard in football. An ongoing trend with Black athletes. Even the current Wikipedia entry lists the 2001-06 seasons as blank instead of the Mike Vick era of Atlanta. That entry like for many non-Vick fans has been mostly removed from the lore of the team.
Matt Ryan is a Rorschach test—he’s either overrated or underrated
Matt Ryan was always the wrong person. Ryan is the most successful quarterback in Atlanta Falcon’s history. Even by his fourth season and fifth seasons, despite being the most consistent quarterback in franchise history people were doubting if he was the right fight for Atlanta. His playoff record during his first 5 years were routinely criticized and prior to the 2017 Super Bowl, the word on Matty Ice was he melts under pressure or needed work.
Ryan’s critics consistently doubted his contract extensions, including his $103 million dollar contract back in 2013, then his $150 million dollar deal in 2018. Fans endured with what they believed was either a serviceable quarterback or one not capable of the ‘big time’. And this remained a constant throughout his career.
Despite his success, this has been a gripe amongst some fans since the 2017 Super Bowl. Ryan’s play on the field is maybe the most controversial aspect of his otherwise controversy-free career. The criticisms of Ryan rely on whether his stats back up his play on the field. Ryan started his first 5 seasons with the Falcons with a winning record, culminating in an NFC Conference Championship appearance against the San Francisco 49ers in the 2012 season. The 49ers that season was led by another young, running+passing quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick at the time was more controversial for his tattoos, flashiness, and Vick-style of play.
The selective comparisons of Vick to Ryan usually devolves into stats and support. Both Ryan and Vick had horrendous support in their line protection, Ryan for his career with the Falcons was sacked 450 times, including 157 in his first 6 years. While Vick during his 6 years being the QB was sacked 184 times. The difference was Vick’s athleticism and his pass-run combination gave fans hope he could do something under pressure. Pocket passers are excellent, when protected see Drew Brees and Tom Brady, but when they are in a situation that requires movement, they are always awful.
In the case of Matt Ryan his tenure with the Falcons ends in an unceremonious manner, Ryan deserved better. Ryan also released a full-page farewell ad in the AJC thanking the fans for their 14 years of support. Matt Ryan was the quarterback Atlanta needed, but not all of Atlanta wanted. Indianapolis is a fresh start for Ryan and once again a reset for the Falcons. The 14 years of stability may be looked at more fondly in future generations by anti-Ryan fans, but for the Falcons, the future is blank.
Let’s finish the week strong! - KJW