To Atlanta: a love letter on Super Bowl weekend.
IT DOESN’T MATTER if you usually root for Georgia or Tech or Auburn or Clemson or the Tide. It doesn’t matter if you prefer college ball to pro.
It doesn’t matter if you even particularly love football.
It doesn’t matter if you normally watch ESPN or FOX News or CNN or the BBC or Antiques Roadshow.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an onion farmer from Reidsville or a stockbroker on Tuxedo Road.
It doesn’t matter if you live in Montgomery or Birmingham and swear you would never live in that horrid overbuilt place with the terrible traffic. (But you’d still defend it with your life from an insult from some northerner.)
It doesn’t matter if you’re the gay kid from Easley, SC who just wanted to walk down the sidewalk feeling comfortable in your own skin and maybe actually go on a date once in a while.
It doesn’t matter if the last six generations of your family grew up in Bernardsville, New Jersey or Traverse City, Michigan, because you belong here now.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the Guatemalan, Salvadoran, or Laotian family who found their promised land behind a strip mall on Buford Highway.
You are ours, and we are yours.
Nobody in this town gives a crap which boat you came over on, as long as you show up, work hard and be kind.
We don’t owe the world an explanation for our contradictions or our oddities. You can twirl a baton walking down Peachtree and we will give you your own parade.
You can smash a beer can between your 60 year old titties, read your poem, and we will crown you queen.
Y’all come. Bring your own weird, and someone will eventually figure out how to build a party or festival around it.
This is your team and your town, whether you are a charter school tea party creationistic laissez-faire Republicrat or a proto-nihilist socialized redistributionist Marxist.
That is the beauty of this moment.
THAT EVEN IN this rancid, fetid, disagreeable time when civic consciousness and courtesy are so stretched to the limit, we can show the world it is possible to put aside race, creed, color, party, drama, history, self-doubt, whom you love or what you make, and simply unite.
To unite, doesn’t mean to agree. It means that our common purpose outweighs the petty battles of the moment.
It is stunningly, ridiculously appropriate that the owner of this team is a guy who made his fortune putting a bunch of lumber and light bulbs into a abandoned grocery store on Memorial Drive, and with sheer force of will, turned it into a worldwide empire.
Because that is how fortunes are made in Atlanta.
Not with inherited wealth or a natural port or immense mineral riches pulled from the earth.
But with unglamorous risk, unwarranted optimism, and 100% Grade A American chutzpah.
Damn right we’re self-promoting. “We have raised a brave and beautiful city.” Henry Grady wrote it, Robert Woodruff lived it, Ivan Allen led it, John Lewis risked his life for it, MLK saved it, Jimmy Carter inspired it, Andy Young nurtured it.
And now, Matt Ryan is going to win the Super Bowl for it.
And in that moment, we will all be victors.
Not because of the score on the board. But because in that raucous, joyful moment when we are yelling at the top of our lungs, we will be truly united.