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Action From the Georgia Swarm “Guys Night Out”

Finn and Cellini had a BLAST at 680 THE FAN’S “Guys Night Out” with the Georgia Swarm at their Infinite Energy Arena home opener!  See samples of the action for yourself, and make plans attend a game SOON!

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Philips Arena Renovation Underway

renovation-announcementATLANTA, GA – The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and the City of Atlanta today announced that they have reached an agreement on key terms for a $192.5 million renovation ofHawks_PhilipsArena1 Philips Arena. Mayor Kasim Reed committed to provide $142.5 million in funds, with the Hawks funding the remainder, to improve the city-owned facility in order to revitalize the arena as a basketball-first, world-class venue that hosts approximately 170 events annually. The Hawks committed to an 18-year lease extension to remain in downtown Atlanta through 2046.

“When our group became owners almost a year and a half ago, we pledged to work diligently with the City of Atlanta to ensure that the Club remained downtown. We knew that a key part of producing a winning team, providing a superior fan experience and being a civic asset to the City of Atlanta required a renovation of our arena and a meaningful improvement to the downtown area of this city. Today’s announcement with the Mayor is a significant step toward this goal, and we look forward to this exciting transformation that will ensure that we provide the best fan experience possible now and for the next 30 years,” said Tony Ressler, Atlanta Hawks Principal Owner and Chairman. “We appreciate the efforts of the Mayor, his team and the rest of the City government in working with team executives in accomplishing this positive feat for our team and our city.”

“This is the first stake in the ground in transforming the critical corridor from the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium to Centennial Olympic Park and across to Five Points and Underground Atlanta,” said Mayor Reed. “I want to thank Tony Ressler and the Atlanta Hawks’ ownership for committing to this deal that will keep the NBA in our City and help re-imagine downtown for the millions of residents, visitors and tourists who come to Atlanta each year.”

The Hawks will begin renovations of Philips Arena during the summer of 2017, and the transformation will be completed by the start of 2018-2019 season, coinciding with the Hawks’Hawks_PhilipsArena2 50th Anniversary in Atlanta. The Hawks will play next season at Philips.

The Hawks’ vision is to have a building that is “True to Atlanta” by taking the excitement and inclusiveness of the Beltline and connecting that spirit to the reimagined Philips Arena. The new arena will include new amenities on every level of the building, 360-degree connected concourses at all levels, improved sightlines and state-of-the-art video throughout the building.

Originally constructed as a multi-purpose facility and opened in 1999, Philips Arena annually ranks among the most-programmed venues in the country, after Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center in New York City and Staples Center in Los Angeles, according to Pollstar’s rankings. Philips Arena hosts approximately 170 events per year, including most of the biggest musical acts, family shows including the circus and ice shows, and Hawks home games. Philips employs approximately 1,500 staff per event, including 300 full-time employees and 1,200 part-time employees. More than 1.6 million fans and customers attend events at Philips Arena every year, with those numbers expected to increase significantly in the next 2-5 years.

Additional materials about the arena renovations are available HERE.

# TrueToAtlanta #

With a bold identity and strong new ownership, the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and Philips Arena remain committed to making Atlantans proud on the court and off. The 2014-15 Southeast Division Champions, the Hawks have made the postseason in nine consecutive seasons and reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2015. Off the court, the organization has built a culture of inclusion, diversity and innovation, all with a touch of Southern Hospitality. It continues into the community where the organization builds bridges through basketball, whether by constructing and refurbishing courts in Atlanta neighborhoods, providing scholarships to our basketball camps, or surprising and delighting our fans with unique Atlanta Hawks experiences. Atlanta Hawks Membership, which includes your seat for every home game for the 2016-17 regular season games, is on sale now at www.hawks.com/membership or by calling 866-715-1500! For more information on the Hawks, log on to www.hawks.com today or follow us on twitter @ATLHawks.

– Atlanta Hawks Official Press Release 11-01-2016

KSU Football: A Needed Rebound Win

Kennesaw State Owls: 49
Point Skyhawks: 3

ks_monogram_fcEven FCS schools have get right games. The Point Skyhawks were the get right game for the Owls who won handedly 49-3. The Owls needed a rebound win after falling to ETSU in 2OTs in the season opener but getting beat in the final tally wasn’t the worst of it, the Owls ended up losing big pieces on the offensive side. Jake McKenzie and Trey White both couldn’t finish the game due to injuries.

Moving into this past week vs Point the Owls were without 4 starters most notably QB Trey White who suffered a hip injury vs. ETSU. Chandler Burks, who is the answer to the trivia question of “Who is the first player to sign with Kennesaw State?” got the nod in the matchup.

Burks found Justin Sumpter early and often in the passing game to the tune of 2 TDs in the first 5 minutes of the game. Notably Burks executed the Triple Option in a way that the Owls haven’t operated it since Monmouth or Coastal Carolina last year. The execution of the option was highlighted by a 51yd TD run by Burks in the 2nd Quarter.   With starting Backs Jake McKenzie (Ribs) and Myles White (concussion), Micah Reed filled in and rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown. The Owls offense just looked super crisp and dare I say unstoppable.

With concessions made to the level and caliber of opponent the Owls did everything that this game is supposed to on both the FBS and FCS level. Execute the gameplan, win the ball game (something that isn’t always a given), stay healthy and get younger guys some time. The passing attack from Burks who finished with 82 yards passing and those 2 TDs kept the passing game as a viable threat. Redshirt Freshman Daniel David showed why coaches are super high on him as he learns the offense with 61 yards on the ground and 31 more through the air along with a TD.

The Owls also let loose a new weapon on Special Teams in true Freshman Bronson Rechsteiner, who blew up Point Returner Ricardo Sloan. If you say his last name and were a fan of World Championship Wrestling back in the day, it should ring a bell. He is the son of Rick Steiner and nephew of Scott Steiner. An Etowah High grad, Rechstenier has been noted for his level of intensity. “One notch with him, he is always hyped; 6 in the morning, 9 and night.” is how fellow Linebacker Izzy Sam describes the Freshman. Between his teammates and coaches they are expecting big things from Rechstenier in his time with the Owls.

Also noted in the postgame presser Coach Bohannon said that the expects all the starters back after the bye week when the Owls travel to take on Duquesne with the only exception may being Trey White. If that is the case Chandler Burks will get his second career start. With another good performance from the R-Sophomore there could be a conversation to be had about who leads the Owls moving forward.

NEXT UP: BYE Week; at Duquesne 1-1 (0-0; Northeast Conference FCS) 9/24

Preseason Game 1 Recap: Redskins at Falcons

Deion Jones (45) (AP Photo:Todd Kirkland)
Deion Jones (45) (AP Photo:Todd Kirkland)

Rookie LBs Make Good First Impression:
Throughout training camp coaches have raved about the speed and athleticism of rookie linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones. Everyone knew that these young men could run, but they both had limited experience in college and the transition from NCAA to NFL cannot be done based solely on the fact that you ran a great 40 time at the combine. Thursday night was the first chance to see these guys in action, and they did not disappoint. Although Worrilow and Weatherspoon started the game at linebacker, Campbell and Jones seemed to get the main bulk of snaps and were in the game before the end of the first quarter. During a second quarter Redskins possession Campbell recorded three solo tackles, two of which were in the open field. Deion Jones is going to be an undersized linebacker this season, that’s just the way it is. But if he can consistently play with the same speed he showed us on Thursday that may not matter. The burst Jones displayed not only makes him a legitimate option in third down pass coverage, it also makes him a threat as a pass rusher.   There were certainly times when both young men found themselves out of position, but they each ran and tackled well enough to make me think that the good far outweighed the bad.

 

Vic Beasley (AP Photo:David Goldman)
Vic Beasley (AP Photo:David Goldman)

Mixed Reviews on Beasley:
I want to believe so badly that Vic Beasley is going to turn into a double digit, Von Miller-esk sack guy. I want to believe that the man taken in the top ten of the 2015 draft will take the next step in year two and learn to better use his hands when fighting off offensive tackles. After Thursday night I must admit that I am still undecided. Apparently Dan Quinn was not fibbing when he told the media that the defense would play most of the snaps in the nickel because Vic Beasley was lined up at defensive end almost exclusively. Beasley had a few moments, one of which came in the first quarter when he applied third down pressure and forced an incompletion and came close to tipping the pass. A few plays prior to that Vic came free and was literally taken down before he could get to the passer, though no flag was thrown. There were also times when Beasley would make contact with the tackle and then just disappear. Both of his QB pressures were the results of inside twists, but when faced with a straight up one on one pass rush Beasley was not impressive.

 

Matt Schaub (WADE PAYNE:AP)
Matt Schaub (WADE PAYNE:AP)

Check Out Our Backup QB:
So here is the bad news. Matt Ryan was 0 for 4 and the starting offense could not manage a first down in two drives with the starting quarterback at the helm. I will give them a pass on the drive that started on the Falcon one yard line, but certainly you would have liked to have seen a bit more with the full first team. Are you ready for the good news? It looks as though the Falcons will kick off the 2016 season with one of the league’s premiere backup quarterbacks. For as uncomfortable as Matt Ryan appeared in Kyle Shanahan’s offense last season, Matt Schaub looked just as polished running the same scheme he ran under Shanahan in Houston. Schaub finished 10 for 15 totaling 179 yards, a big chunk of which came on two deep throws to Aldrick Robinson. The veteran QB really looked smooth running the bootleg, proving how valuable he is as a teacher to Matt Ryan while he attempts to further perfect the scheme.

 

Other Notes:
Sean Weatherspoon and Paul Worrilow started off the game with a few hard hits that resulted in loss of yards. No one really knew what Weatherspoon had left to offer after re-signing with Atlanta, but hopefully Thursday night was a taste of the production he can provide in 2016. Devonta Freeman dropped an easy touchdown pass from Matt Schaub on Thursday. Hopefully he can get that out of his system now, because those kinds of things can cost you games in the regular season. Mohamed Sanu hauled in a pair of passes in his Falcons debut, both resulting in first downs.

NOW BATTING…Tim Tebow?

-Brandon Joseph

Entertain this, imagine that famous bus scene from the movie “Bull Durham”. Crash Davis telling stories about his 21 days in the show. How you never have to carry your bags in the show. Now replace Crash Davis with Tim Tebow telling stories on what it was like during his 16 games as a NFL starter. Imagine Crash Tebow holding court in the back of the bus as they ride through Biloxi on the way to Chattanooga for a critical 3 game set vs. the Lookouts, telling 22 year old kids about how he had a backup at UF named Cam Newton. Better yet the call comes in to the clubhouse Nuke Laloosh Tebow gets the call and he finds out he being called up by the big league club. Tim Tebow is going to live the MLB dream.

Tim-Tebow-(AP-File-Photo)
Tim Tebow (AP-File-Photo)

Seriously lets approach this under reality: Tim Tebow doesn’t have a single MLB dream. His only dream is to share himself, his message and his values with the world and to quote Jerry Seinfeld “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Why else didn’t Tim Tebow take an offer to go to the Canadian Football League or the Arena Football League? More simple why didn’t he move positions if his dream is to play in the NFL? Tim Tebow was never about living that dream of being part of the team. Tim Tebow’s dream is to be the guy, face on the billboard with the platform and anything less than that is unacceptable.

Tim Tebow’s announcement of attempting to live out another dream and become a MLB player is just as much of a dream as Michael Jordan’s dream was to play baseball. A 28, about to be 29 year old rookie has little to no chance to work their way up from A ball to the show. However I strongly believe Tim Tebow’s dream is not to make it to Major League Baseball. The only evidence I need is the history of Tim Tebow. His pursuit of baseball would come with some simple truths, he would never be the guy, barring Trout or Stanton ability. Tim Tebow would start a MLB career in Minor League camp and Tim Tebow would have to fight and struggle for looks and at-bats. Why would any team give those looks to a 29 year old rookie over the 21 year old that they invested a huge signing bonus on? Tim Tebow doesn’t like to be made a mockery of, that is exactly what would happen if he got assigned to a Double- A club. It would be great for the minor league club who would have record attendance, but before you knew it the sideshow effect would kick in and it would be no better than Eddie Gaedel.

Tim Tebow is mastermind, and a nice guy. I have talked with Tebow at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. He is a guy who you truly wish the best for. However the best case scenario if Tim is serious about this and willing to commit to baseball, which I doubt, is 2020. Not the depressing news show but the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo where baseball makes a return. 4 years from now Tim Tebow will be 33 years old and he could be at a skill level that is on par with what the US could be looking to send to the games. He will be the polarizing star power that the IOC wants with inviting baseball back to the games since MLB will never play ball and suspend a season for the Olympics. Tim Tebow could be the guy who carries the flag in for the Opening Ceremonies, he can be the face of all the features and adverts for the Olympic games, which would help NBC get back the billions they are spending. HOWEVER to do that Tim Tebow would have to spend 3 years riding in the bus leagues, 3 years not being in mainstream media. Tim Tebow would have to do something he has never been able to do since before his time at Nease High School- take a backseat to being Tim Tebow; and we can all agree that isn’t happening.

Keanu Neal: Great Pick For ATL!

Keanu Neal (AP Photo:David Goldman)
Keanu Neal (AP Photo:David Goldman)

Remember that time when we (me specifically) bitched and moaned after Thomas Dimitroff and company selected Keanu Neal in the first round of the NFL Draft, leaving guys like Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland and Myles Jack on the board? Well, after weeks of carefully reviewing Twitter I have only one thing to say to the Falcons front office…tip of the cap to you, sirs.

Neal’s athleticism and physical play have been the talk of camp so far in Flowery Branch, and his big time hits have already induced a few shoving matches during practice. He has drawn continuous praise from both Dan Quinn and teammates like Ricardo Allen, who called Neal one of the smartest players he has been around. This may be a tad premature, but I have already seen talk of Neal eventually becoming a defensive captain. Many first round picks get penciled in at the top of the depth chart by default, in order to avoid any speculation that the front office made a poor selection. Keanu Neal is penciled in at the top of the depth chart because he is by far the most talented player the Falcons have at his position. His presence has specifically been felt within the tight end corps, which has had to deal with Neal each time one of them crosses the middle of the field. But let’s be honest, he was starting at SS the moment he was taken with the 17th overall pick.

Let me preface this final paragraph my stating that I have already knocked on every piece of wood in my apartment as to not place any jinxes on Mr. Neal with my following comments. Just for the heck of it I thought that we would take a quick peak at the current status of some of the guys we passed on in the first round. Defensive end Shaq Lawson reinjured his shoulder and has not practiced since the first day of mini-camp and Reggie Ragland recently injured his knee during training camp and his time table for return is still unknown. Titans rookie DE Kevin Dodd has been out of camp with a stress fracture in his foot and Robert Nkemdiche has been out of Cardinals camp with an ankle sprain. Injury can strike to anyone at any time, but when you factor in his health to go along with talent and leadership, it sure looks like the Falcons have chosen wisely when it comes to Keanu Neal. Tip of the cap to you, Falcons.

Sean NernyStudio Producer/Operator
Sports Radio 680 The Fan

Takeaways from Falcons Mini Camp

by Sean Nerny

Quinn 2016 mini camp
Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

If I had to come up with a slogan for this year’s Mini Camp, it would be “Jump Right In”. Dan Quinn and company must have had something similar in mind when the whistle blew Tuesday morning in Flowery Branch.

Because full contact is forbidden during Mini Camp, coaches use practice time to throw the playbook at players, many of them for the first time. From day one rookies Deion Jones, Keanu Neal and De’Vondre Campbell lined up with the starting defense, while late round pick G Wes Schweitzer saw plenty of snaps on the first team offensive line. Neal was expected to start right away, but Campbell was considered a project coming out of the draft and Jones is learning a new position at MLB. If Campbell turns out to be a quick learner, he has a chance to see significant playing time next season, while Jones is competing with veteran Paul Worrilow. In week one it is likely that Jones will see most of his playing time on third down, where the team can utilize his speed.

Vic-Beasley
DE – Vic Beasley

Second year LB Vic Beasley was featured in the nickel package during camp, while vet Philip Wheeler lined up as starting strong side LB in the base defense. While the move to LB may allow Beasley more space to rush the QB, last year’s first round pick struggled against the run last season and may see most of his playing time on passing downs.

Not to kill the mood but we all remember the debacle that was the Falcons offensive line last year. The front office was still making moves during the preseason, desperately trying to concoct something resembling an NFL caliber line. This year things look a bit different. Matthews, Levitre, Mack and Schraeder all seem settled into the first team, as Mike Person, Chris Chester, Tom Compton and rookie Wes Schweitzer are competing for the RG spot.

Akeem-King
CB – Akeem King

One position group that was thrust into chaos recently was cornerback. Jalen Collins is set to miss the first four weeks of the season for testing positive for PEDs, making an already thin CB group fully emaciated. On day one, second year man Akeem King lined up opposite Desmond Trufant, with Robert Alford playing the nickel. King showed promise last season but is definitely lacking experience. One of the good stories from camp originates from the CB group as well. Ex Steelers WR C.J. Goodwin recently converted to CB and has turned some heads during camp, picking off a couple of balls over the three days of practice. His solid play has given the coaching staff plenty to think about, and the lack of depth at CB may very well influence their decision.

Neither of the team’s projected return men, Devin Hester and rookie Devin Fuller, suited up for Mini Camp as they nursed injuries. By this point I am used to not seeing Hester on the field but Fuller needs all the practice time he can get. Lineman James Stone also sat out camp but overall, the Falcons look like a healthy club.

Your 2016 Atlanta Falcons Draft Class

ATLANTA – May 4 – Sean Nerny
The 2016 NFL Draft is in the books, but the journey has just begun for this year’s crop of rookies, as well as the coaches who are entrusted to get the most out of them. There was no lack of suspense during the early rounds as we watched Myles Jack fall out of the first round due to his knee, and Laremy Tunsil fall due to a bong/gas mask. I dare say that nothing will ever top that draft story. We saw local favorites taken in early rounds, Leonard Floyd to the Bears and Adam Gotsis to the Broncos. The two biggest surprises both came in the second round, when the Cowboys selected injured LB Jaylon Smith and Tampa Bay TRADED UP for FSU Kicker Roberto Aguayo.

The Falcons came into the draft with multiple needs to fill, which often led to skipping over better talent in order to help complete the roster. Due to “Noisegate” and Andy LeVitre, Thomas Dimitroff and company came into Thursday night with only five picks to work with, but were able to get one of those picks back after trading down in the second round. Here’s a quick rundown of what the Falcons did.

 

Round One:

Keanu Neal S UF

keanu_nealPros: Hard hitting strong safety who should step in as a starter immediately. Dan Quinn recruited Neal while at UF so the pair knows each other better than most rookie/HC combos. Great character guy so I’m not expecting any Jalen Collins-like situations with Neal. Nightmare against the run game, he totaled 95 tackles last season while missing two games. Neal is the type of player the “hit stick” on Madden was created for.

Cons: Most draft experts had Neal rated as a second to fourth round pick. While I believe he is worthy of a late first round selection, I would’ve liked Thomas to have found a way to move back from 17. As with most hard hitting players injury is a risk with Neal. He missed two games in each of his last two years at UF due to injury. While he is a stud against the run game, you are not going to want to match Neal up against AJ Green.


Round Two:

Deion Jones LB LSU

Deion JonesPros: Many people were shocked in the first round when the Falcons passed on speedy LB Darren Lee. Turns out, Deion Jones was the Darren Lee of round two. Jones ran a stunning 4.38 40 yard dash at his Pro Day and is a sideline to sideline guy with the ability to comfortably drop back into coverage. With five sacks in 2015, Deion can get to the QB when asked. He also has plenty of experience playing special teams. Here’s a bonus, his parents named him after Deion Sanders.

Cons: Jones was only a one year starter at LSU and is lacking experience due to that. He was backing up Tampa Bay’s Kwon Alexander so he is given a pass but he still may need to be coached up a bit. Jones is slightly undersized and scouts wonder if his frame has “maxed out”.


Round Three:

Austin Hooper TE STAN

Austin Hooper tePros: Initially I was upset to see the Falcons go TE here, but the more I read into Hooper the more I’m starting to warm up to him. He is a red zone threat at 6’4 and caught six touchdown passes in 2015. Hooper is more fluid as a route runner than Levine Toilolo and should work in behind Jacob Tamme on the depth chart sooner than later.

Cons: Tight ends often have a larger learning curve when transitioning into the NFL and I expect Hooper to follow suit. Even Tyler Eifurt, who is one of the league’s top tight ends, took a few years to get things going. Hooper is going to have to bulk up a bit and work on his blocking skills.


Round Four:

De’Vondre Campbell LB MINN

De’Vondre CampbellPros: Campbell may very well end up being the best NFL player taken in this Falcons draft class. He has a perfect frame at 6’4 235 pounds with some room to add more weight. Campbell has the speed to come off the edge and led the Gophers with four sacks in 2015. Most scouts agree that his best football is still ahead of him. A very high production guy, Campbell should contribute on special teams right away.

Cons: Campbell is nowhere near ready to start at LB in this league. While his potential is through the roof, Dan Quinn is going to have to mold this young man into a dominant player. Too often he was out of position at LB and really took himself out of plays. The good news is that he has the right body frame and attitude to be the perfect guy to “coach up”.

 

Round Six:

Wes Schweitzer G SJST

Wes SchweitrzerPros: Anything that can be done to unseat Andy LeVitre as a starting guard has to be considered a positive move. I was anticipating the Falcons going guard earlier in the day but I am glad they eventually brought one in. Apparently this is one smart kid who is working on a PhD. Good size, 6’4 300 pounds and he put up 28 reps on the bench press.

Cons: Not too much is known about Schweitzer, many draft scouts did not have him on their draft boards. The only question I have with this pick is why the OL was not addressed sooner in the draft?

 

Round Seven:

Devin Fuller WR UCLA

FullerPros: The Atlanta Falcons will save 3 million against the cap by releasing Devin Hester, drafting Devin Fuller could make the front office lean that direction. The wide out ran a 4.39 40 yard time and averaged almost 25 yards per kickoff return last year. It is a win anytime you can get a guy in the seventh round that ends up touching the field, and I see that happening with this guy.

Cons: The Falcons are fairly set in the WR depth chart with Julio, Sanu and Justin Hardy, so Fuller is going to have to prove himself quickly as a return threat is he wants to end up making a game day roster.

As in every draft, you never really know how you did until a few years down the road. Dimitroff and company filled many needs, but I believe defensive end was one they missed on. Arthur Blank mentioned publicly that he wanted starters produced from this draft and Neal, Jones and Schweitzer(because of who is in front of him) all have the potential to be starters next season.