FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons turned a little bit of fictionalized motivation into semi-reality Wednesday afternoon — all in the form of a sign.
Specifically, a “BELIEVE” sign, mimicking the one hanging inside the AFC Richmond locker room in the Emmy-winning Apple TV+ show “Ted Lasso,” now hangs in the media news conference room at the team’s practice facility.
In the show, Jason Sudeikis plays the title character, an American football coach who takes over an English Premier League side despite knowing nothing about the game.
This latest venture into the world of “Ted Lasso” started Sunday, after the Falcons’ 17-14 come-from-behind win over the New York Giants, when the word “belief” or “believe” was uttered out of every player’s mouth — something that has been a constant when Falcons players and their head coach, Arthur Smith, have talked publicly the past two weeks.
Quarterback Matt Ryan was asked whether there was a Ted Lasso connection to the type of messaging Smith was trying to convey over the first few weeks of the season, when Atlanta suffered back-to-back 20-plus-point losses before Sunday against the Giants.
“He’s different from Ted Lasso,” Ryan said Sunday. “He’s definitely got a different approach than Ted Lasso, but there’s no ‘believe’ sign in there in the locker room that the guys tap.”
Instead, the Falcons added one to the media news conference room — at least for Wednesday.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) September 29, 2021
When Smith started his Wednesday news conference, he was asked whether or not the sign was his idea. He said it wasn’t. Smith was then asked if he wanted to tap the sign? He said he hadn’t. Yet.
“In all seriousness, it’s probably [Falcons PR head David] Bassity thinks he’s funny. I don’t know if the joke’s on me or it’s on you guys,” Smith said. “I can shave into a pretty good mustache. We are going to London next week so maybe I’ll get some AFC Richmond gear.”
Smith, though, then used the words “believe” or “belief” multiple times during his news conference — at one point pausing and shaking his head about the sign.
But on his way out, as Lasso is wont to do in the show, Smith reached out his left hand and tapped the sign.
Ryan, who spoke after Smith on Wednesday, acknowledged the sign at the start of his press availability and pointed to it, but did not tap it on his way out the door.
Unfortunately — or maybe fortunately, considering AFC Richmond’s 5-0 FA Cup semifinal loss to Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in the show earlier this season — Atlanta’s Oct. 10 game against the New York Jets will be contested at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.