Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Michael Sam not being viewed as just player

  • 4:54 pm Monday, September 1st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Michael Sam had three sacks in preseason but no team has signed him to its practice squad. (AP photo)

The NFL, like any sports league, would like you to believe it’s not exclusionary. The problem with that expectation is a league can’t speak or act for individual team builders. That’s why Michael Sam is out of a job today — and for anybody who believes Sam’s sexuality has nothing to do with him being out of work today, keep reading.

The St. Louis Rams released the former Missouri defensive lineman, who became the first athlete in history to disclose publicly before the start of his career that he was homosexual. The Rams don’t deserve criticism for cutting Sam because they [More]

Report: Petrino, Grantham already feuding (updated)

  • 10:20 pm Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
S.I. reports Bobby Petrino and Todd Grantham are already feuding. Surprise!. (AP photo)

When “reformed” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino hired former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, it seemed like a perfect marriage — if one were to assume a petroleum truck parking in a warehouse full of plutonium is a perfect marriage.

So maybe this won’t come as a surprise:

According to SI.com, Petrino has “feuded often” with Grantham since hiring him in January. The relationship between the two is so bad, one unidentified source told S.I., that Petrino would have fired Grantham by now if he had not given him a five-year contract worth nearly $1 million annually (which, by the way, wasn’t [More]

Falcons can survive without Baker, not others

  • 10:25 am Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Julio Jones is one player Falcons can't afford to lose. (Kent Johnson, AJC)

There have been two general reactions from Falcons’ fans since Sam Baker was lost for the season: 1) OMG, we lost our starting left tackle; or 2) That’s OK, we only loss Sam Baker.

Both are understandable. The left tackle protects the quarterback’s blind side. Kind of important. But Baker widely has been considered a bust since the Falcons traded up to draft him late in the first round in 2008, and part of the reason is he’s been injured so often.

He played only eight games (five starts) in his rookie season. He started only six games in 2011 and four [More]

Roddy White meets winner of big Twitter bet

  • 7:39 pm Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dylan Hoyt (bet winner) mets Roddy White (bet loser) Wednesday at Falcons' training camp. (Jeff Schultz, AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH — In the Twitterverse, where too often the silly becomes serious and the serious turns silly, Roddy White says he learned a valuable lesson.

“Never bet anything unless you’re willing to pay up,” the Falcons’ wide receiver said Wednesday.

White actually more than paid up for what in reality was a goof bet with a fan last March. He told a follower on Twitter before the first-round NCAA tournament game between Duke and Mercer that if the 14th seeded Bears from Macon upset the heavily favored Blue Devils, he would buy the man Falcons season tickets.

Oops.

Mercer won. White paid off … [More]

Poll: Falcons open camp, what’s your pick?

  • 9:59 am Friday, July 25th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
061114 falcons CC21

FLOWERY BRANCH — I usually get a feeling how good or bad I think a football team will be. That doesn’t mean I’m right, but something about the previous season and the offseason at least gives me some sense of direction.

But about the 2014 Falcons: I have no idea what’s going to happen.

If you missed it, I have a column posted on MyAJC.com on the start of training camp later today. Here’s a free link to it.

I’ve posted a simple poll because I’m curious what you think. Rather than guess how many games this team will win, let’s focus [More]

Falcons make wrong call saying yes to ‘Hard Knocks’

  • 2:20 pm Thursday, June 12th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Make no mistake: "Hard Knocks" is preferred by Arthur Blank, not Mike Smith. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Falcons have decided to be the subject of the annual NFL-HBO voyeuristic enterprise called, “Hard Knocks.”

Well. This isn’t the worst decision they’ve ever made in recent years. There was that one year they hired Bobby Petrino.

So let me understand this: The same organization that fell apart a season ago, and not just because of injuries, has decided to let a cable television show go behind the scenes in training camp and follow players in practices and meetings and areas of Fort Flowery Branch normally off limits to non-team personnel?

Headquarters in Flowery Branch will be a sea of wires, cameras [More]

Weatherspoon out (Is this happening again?)

  • 9:49 pm Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Sean Weatherspoon, who had been working his way back from previous injuries, is lost for the 2014 season. (AP photo)

Last September, when the Falcons were in only the early stages of what would become a calamitous string of injuries, I offered my, “Can’t Afford To Lose” top 10 list of players. The list:  Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Steven Jackson on offense; Sean Weatherspoon, Osi Umenyiora, William Moore, Jonathan Babineaux and Asante Samuel on defense. (Looking back, I don’t know if I overrated the aging Samuel before last season or he just couldn’t get healthy.)

This year’s list wouldn’t change much, which means the Falcons just took a big hit — and they didn’t even [More]

Holiday 6-pack: Will Nats close on Braves?

  • 12:01 pm Monday, May 26th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
The Braves' B.J. Upton is reaching base more and striking out less. Honest. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Good morning. This is the day to celebrate our true heroes. Memorial Day began as a day to honor the soldiers who died in the Civil War but now serves to recognize all Americans who died while in the military. This isn’t a day for politics. To borrow from Mark Twain: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

And now, on the backside of this barbecue weekend, a six-pack of thoughts on a six-pack of teams:

1. Braves: Keep an eye on Washington

The Braves are showing signs of coming out of their offensive rut, [More]

Atlanta will get Super Bowl despite weather

  • 10:32 am Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Pay no attention to this memory, football fans. (David Tullis)

The Falcons decided to hold an “historic” (quoting from a news release) ground-breaking for their new stadium Monday night, complete with fireworks. It was a curiously timed event in that the team has already bulldozed the first of two churches to make room for the stadium and has been plowing land for several weeks.

But NFL owners were in town for spring meetings so actually it makes perfect sense. This was all for show. It was for Falcons owner Arthur Blank to try to change the talking points in Atlanta for residents who still may be unhappy about public money being [More]

Falcons not wowing Vegas: Are concerns real?

  • 9:15 am Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Has Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff done enough to plug holes? (AP photo)

According to the first post-draft odds in Las Vegas the Falcons are 40-1 win the Super Bowl (via Bovada). That places them tied for only 13th overall, and maybe more significantly only tied for eighth among NFC teams.

These odds fall in line with previously released over-under win totals. The Falcons are projected to win only eight games in 2014 season (via Cantor gaming), which puts them behind New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South, as well as Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, Chicago and Philadelphia in the conference. (Complete odds are listed below.)

As we know, oddsmakers set odds based [More]