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Saints Are Sentimental Favorites

September 24, 2006|From the Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons are used to getting booed in the Big Easy. They've never had an entire nation pulling against them.

The Falcons are clearly cast in the bad-guy role as they prepare to head off to New Orleans for Monday night's emotion-packed reopening of the Superdome, the scene of horrific suffering during Hurricane Katrina.

"Everybody knows what happened down there," Atlanta cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "Everyone is going to be rooting for those guys. We're rooting for those guys. We want to make sure everything is in order down there, make sure everything is headed in the right direction."

But, Hall quickly adds, "Every game we play, we go out there to win. My heart goes out to those guys, but we're going down there to win a game. That's the only thing on our minds."

Indeed, the Falcons find themselves in a bit of an uncomfortable position, not unlike another Atlanta team, baseball's Braves, when they faced the New York Mets five years ago in the first game at Shea Stadium after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Although the Braves weren't all that upset about losing to the Mets that night -- after all, the baseball season is 162 games and one defeat didn't slow Atlanta's drive for another division title -- the Falcons can't afford that sort of benevolence.

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