FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Before they suit up on Sundays, and even before they take the field for their potent practices, the message is loud and clear. Or, maybe more accurately, it's easy to read.
"There's a lot of t-shirts," said Falcons head coach Dan Quinn with a laugh. "They have some, for sure."
Some stats are easy to measure, like Atlanta leading the NFL in points scored during the regular season. Others are more difficult; however, led by the motivationally-minded Quinn, the Falcons may lead the NFL in t-shirts.
"We just have fun with it as the weeks go," said Quinn. "You'll see a hat or shirt or sweatshirt. You've got to earn them."
Of course, every sports team in America probably has at least one piece of gear with an inspirational message on it. The Falcons have cranked it up to another level.
"Got hats, I got shirts, I got hoodies, I got stuff at home," said punter Matt Bosher as he rifled through his locker. "We got a lot of stuff. We're fully taken care of."
Before the Seahawks playoff game, all the players were given shirts that said "arrive violently," reminding them to play with a physical style. As they ready to face the Packers in the NFC Championship game, each player had a new shirt hanging in their locker. It read: the only fight that matters is the one we are in.
"When you look too far down the line, you can lose sight of this experience we're going through together," said Quinn of that shirt's meaning. "Just some reminders."
Players appreciate the free gear; some have even found inspiration and started making their own shirts. Receiver Justin Hardy has "Hardy Party" apparel, while fellow wideout Taylor Gabriel has been handing out "Turbo Taylor" tees.
"I need a 3X," said Ra'Shede Hageman. At 6'6 and 318 pounds he's still waiting on some 'Turbo Taylor' swag. "I don't think they got none for me, which is unfortunate."
Perhaps the most coveted shirts, however, aren't giveaways. Players can earn shirts as well. Offensive lineman Ryan Schraeder wore a special teams shirt under his jersey at practice on Wednesday that he earned last season for work on the team's field goal unit.
"Just being solid in protection against a tough player that week," said Schraeder.
Falcons players have full closets after this season and playoff run. They'll gladly make some room for more gear if it means getting to wear it leading up to the Super Bowl.
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