Falcons fans rally for NFC win

by: WSBTV.com<\/a> web staff Updated:

Falcon's tight end Michael Palmer graduated from Arcado Elementary. Last fall he returned and gave them a pep talk.

ATLANTA - It's time to rise up, Atlanta, as excitement builds for Sunday's NFC championship game where the Atlanta Falcons get ready to take on the San Francisco 49ers.

People across the Atlanta metro showed their Falcons spirit Friday afternoon at a huge pep rally at the Fulton County Government Center.

"It's got a little hype. We're going to take it on Sunday. Bring it on back home," said Falcons fan Sunshine Lewis.

Lewis was just one of many fans who their lunch hour with colleagues at a pep rally building momentum to Sundays game

She's predicting the Falcons are going to win it this year.

"The diehard, long-term self-proclaimed Dirty Birds, we don't believe in bandwagons. We've been on it and we're staying on it," Lewis said.

Government officials acted out skits, Grady High School's drum line played loud and hard, and Falcons' cheerleaders got the crowd moving Friday afternoon.

Fulton County employee and the official Visa Hall of Fame No. 1 Fan of the Year, Che Alexander, organized Fulton County's first pep rally.

"I love football and the Falcons. (I) go to the away games, tailgate. It's just what we do and I wanted to give something back to employees, an outlet during game time," Alexander said.

The Falcons need all the fan encouragement they can get. While they're the No. 1 seed, they've received criticism.

Many sports writers and commentators say the road to the Super Bowl will end for the Falcons come Sunday.

The fans at Friday's rally clearly disagreed

"If they just concentrate and make the plays and do what it is we know they are capable of doing, we'll bring it on home," fan Hasell Brown said.


Students rally to rise up

The Falcons fever is shining through in even the youngest of Falcons fans.

Channel 2's Mike Petchenik went to Findley Oaks Elementary School in Johns Creek Friday where students there rose up to rally for their home team.

The children at Findley Oaks share something in common with their hometown team

The school's mascot is the falcon, so they can't help but feel kindred spirits to the Atlanta football team.

"I like how they play and how good their team is," one student told Petchenik. "I want the Falcons to win."

"Do you feel a kinship with the Atlanta Falcons here?" Petchenik asked Principal Lacey Andrews.

"We do. From one Falcon to another, we're really excited for them, rooting them on," Andrews said.

To celebrate the Dirty Birds rise to the NFC championship and beyond, Ms. Clark's fourth-grade class created a special cheer for the Falcons, chanting, "Rise up, Rise up. Rise up, up, up, up, up, up," inspiring their classmates during the special Rise Up Rally.

"I'm proud of being a Falcon because it's their spirit and we'll win," student Suraj Edara said.

Andrews said there's a lot her students can learn from this year's team.

"Just like we ask our students to improve and do better, they've done the same thing," Andrews said.

"Now we're on top and we're not going to stop," Edara said.

Falcons' fever also swept through a Gwinnett County elementary school as young fans sang, chanted and cheered for an NFC championship.

Channel 2's Tom Regan was at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn where students got a rousing lesson on how to cheer the Falcons on to victory.

Dressed in Falcon's red and black, hundreds of pint-sized fans rocked the media center and sent the home team a message, loud and clear: Knock out the 49ers and head onto the big prize in New Orleans, the Super Bowl.

"It's awesome," student Akili Smith told Regan.

"I think this is really cool cause they haven't done this for a long time," said student Ethan Davis.

The staff at Arcado Elementary told the students that just like the Falcons, they too can rise up and succeed if they work hard enough in school.

"Every single day, we are preparing you guys to be champions in life," Assistant Principal Ricardo Quinn said.

The children and their school have a special kinship to the Falcons..

Falcon's tight end Michael Palmer graduated from Arcado Elementary. Last fall he returned and gave them a pep talk.

"At the end of the day, all you can do is control your work ethic and how hard you work," Palmer told the students in that visit.

"The kids know about him. They think he's great and they enjoy watching him every Sunday," principal Penny Young said.

Most of students don't remember the last time the Falcons were on the road to the Super Bowl, but they're ready to make their predictions what's going happen this time.

"I think they're going to whip the 49ers butts," student Ethan Davis told Regan

"You really think so? Can you say that on TV?" Regan asked

"Yeah," Davis said.

Both the students and staff at Arcado Elementary are already planning for their Super Bowl rally if the Falcons  come on top Sunday.



Fans take to social media to rise up

Falcons fever is growing across the city, fueled in part by social media.

"Oh, it's crazy," said Jeremy Jones who operates the popular @GAFollowers feed on Twitter. "I've been on Twitter for a couple of years. It's crazier than ever."

Jones said he has 80,000 followers on his feed which retweets news and events around Georgia.

By using hashtags (such as #RiseUpOn2), he's helping generate excitement for the NFC Championship game between the Falcons and 49ers.

"I'm actually ridiculously excited," said Jones. "Usually every Sunday we tweet about the Falcons and try to get certain keywords trending such as #falconsnation and #riseup just so in the Twittersphere the city of Atlanta can be heard."

Employees in the Atlanta offices of Skanska Construction showed their fan support Friday by wearing Falcons shirts and jerseys to work. It was the idea of John Reyhan, senior vice president and an admitted Falcon fanatic.

"It's part of team spirit," said Rayhen as he sported a Matt Ryan jersey. "We're all supporters of the Falcons."

Project accountant Allison Hathaway grew up in Atlanta and is a big Falcons fan. She appreciated getting to wear her red Falcons jersey to work.

"The spirit is overwhelming," said Hathaway. "We're always together on anything that we come together to do. Today is the best day because its 'rise up' for the Falcons."

Reyhan won a friendly bet with Skanska's Seattle office after the Falcons beat the Seahawks last weekend. He plans to make another friendly bet with their offices in the San Francisco Bay area.