ESPN The Magazine

“It’s Not a Redemption Tour”

Inside a Falcons locker room that refuses to wallow in Super Bowl disaster.

Falcons players profess a brotherhood that leads them forward together.

Steve Kerr waited about a week before he texted Dan Quinn. He knew how many sympathy messages the Falcons coach must be getting—Kerr got about 50 after his Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals. The last thing a beaten man wants is people feeling sorry for him. Those first few days, Kerr found comfort in commiserating with fellow Warriors, who knew exactly what he was going through. Quinn did the same. While the Patriots celebrated deep into the night after their historic 25-point comeback victory in Super Bowl LI, the Falcons carried through with a planned party on three floors of the Westin hotel. Well, it wasn’t really a party; food and drinks were served, but everyone felt sick. Still, there was a need to be around the team, even while surrounded by family and friends, to process what had just happened.

It wouldn’t hit some of them until days, even weeks, later. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant was at his beach house in Alabama when the loss finally sunk in. “Maybe you shake your head, being in this for 15 years and finally getting to that moment,” Bryant says. “But you go on to the next one.”

If it were simple, maybe Kerr could have texted Quinn with some grand insight into how he was overcoming his blown title. The Warriors were on their way to facing LeBron James’ Cavaliers yet again in the NBA Finals, and this time they would go on to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine4 min read
Once They Were Kings
Here’s the bottom line for the sad state of football in the great state of Texas: They have no defense. (Literally.)
ESPN The Magazine2 min read
The Road Team
What happens when three senior writers embed themselves with three teams heading for the playoffs? A record win streak, an epic slide and a little rock ’n’ roll.
ESPN The Magazine17 min read
You Win Some You Lose Some
Two dramatic streaks will define the Dodgers’ 2017 season—unless they can pull off something even more memorable in October.