FLOWERY BRANCH - It's part rallying cry, part inside joke, but it describes the Atlanta Falcons as well as any Merriam-Webster approved word. The new pigskin portmanteau adopted as team terminology: "brothership."
"I like brotherhood, I heard brothership, I jumped on the band wagon, I'm going with it," said Falcons safety Ricardo Allen.
It's a noun...probably. It's a great way to break down a huddle, as the Falcons have done in their locker room after victories for the last month-and-a-half.
"Everything that you could think of being together, being as close as we can possibly be with fellow teammates, that's what it means," said Falcons defensive lineman Dwight Freeney.
Can you use it in a sentence?
"Me and [long snapper] Josh [Harris] have a great brothership being locker mates," said rookie linebacker Deion Jones.
Offensive lineman Tom Compton even put the word on a t-shirt.
"It's caught on, it's caught on," said wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. "It's not as catchy as it should be. It's brotherhood. But brothership, we'll take it, man."
So in victorious locker rooms, with their hands all in the air, the Falcons break it down with, '1, 2, 3, brothership!' It's not a bad word and sounds like something straight out of the football coach's handbook; but this wasn't the work of motivational mantra machine Dan Quinn. It could be the work of a quarterback eager to rally his troops; but Matt Ryan's off the hook. Instead, the new piece of vocabulary was invented like so many great innovations: by accident.
"I'm in charge of the post-game prayer," said fullback Patrick DiMarco. "I was thinking along the lines of how tight this team's gotten, the brotherhood and the friendship."
Head coach Dan Quinn picks up the story.
"He was caught in between this friendship that we have and this brotherhood that we have," said Quinn. "In a moment he was bringing the team up, he said, 'it's awesome to be part of this brothership.' He was caught between two words."
So brothership was born, and then the coach cemented its legacy.
"Afterward, Coach Quinn was like, 'no one can break it down besides DiMarco, let's bring it in! Brothership on 3.' I was like, 'what's this guy talking about?' He was like, 'you didn't know you said that in the prayer?' I'm like, 'no!' He's like, 'we're gonna ride with it!'"
So a new piece of jargon is jammed in with the play calls and audibles; but this one seems emblematic. Winning helps, but 13 games into a grueling season and, from an outsider's perspective, it seems like Atlanta is having more and more fun each time they take the field.
"I've been to a couple other places, man," said Freeney, currently playing in his 15th NFL season. "I've seen winning there and winning here. Winning here is pretty fun."
It's not more fun because of the word 'brothership;' rather, the word 'brothership' exists in the Falcons' locker room because they're having more fun.