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Chandler blocks Falcons out of his mind
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Thursday, Sep. 16 2004
Chris Chandler spent more time in Atlanta - five seasons - than any other stop
in his 17-year NFL career. In terms of both personal statistics and team
success, the time in Georgia marked the apex of his career.
He led the Falcons to the Super Bowl during the 1998 season and made two Pro
Bowls while playing in Atlanta. So Sunday's return to the Georgia Dome will
bring back fond memories for Chandler, now a backup quarterback for the Rams.
Uh, no. In fact, not even close.
"I have some friends back there, but I really have no connection at all,"
Chandler said Thursday. "As far as football, I've kind of forgotten all about
that. The way things ended there, I'm kind of dead to all that now."
Chandler never wears his NFC championship ring from that magical '98 season of
Jamal Anderson and the Dirty Birds. In fact, he'd be hard-pressed to find it.
"We've moved twice, and I really couldn't tell you where it is right now,"
Over his entire NFL career, Chandler has played on only two teams that finished
the season with winning records. One was the 1988 Indianapolis Colts in his
The other was the 1998 Atlanta Falcons. Those three playoff games with the
Falcons, including a 34-19 loss to John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super
Bowl XXXIII, remain the only postseason contests of Chandler's career.
But Georgia definitely is not on his mind - and hasn't been for some time.
"I think I'm numb to all that really," Chandler said. "As things ended there,
and the way they ended there, I pretty much have just forgotten all about it. I
know it was fun. But again, you tend to remember the way things end more so
than anything else."
For Chandler, the beginning of the end came in the 2001 draft, when the Falcons
made Michael Vick the No. 1 overall pick. Beginning with the '01 season opener,
Vick was inserted into the lineup as part of a rotation system devised by
coaches - a highly unusual move for the quarterback position in the NFL.
Because of injuries to Chandler, Vick started two games and played in parts of
But Chandler still played well enough - and stayed healthy enough - to throw
365 passes that season and finish 10th in the NFL in passer rating (84.1).
On Dec. 23, 2001, Chandler threw for a franchise-record 431 yards in a 33-30
victory over Buffalo. But the largest cheers of the day came when it appeared
that Vick would be replacing Chandler, who had been fighting the flu all
Turns out that was Chandler's final game in the Georgia Dome. He was exposed in
the Houston Texans' expansion draft in February but went unclaimed. Later that
month, he was released in a move that saved the Falcons about $3.4 million in
cap space, but also cleared the path for Vick's ascendancy to the quarterback
"What happened today puts me in a group with a lot of people in Atlanta,"
Chandler said at the time. "Like (the Super Bowl) was a memory far, far away."
Despite the sour departure from Atlanta, Chandler harbors no ill will toward
the city. Some of his best friends still call Atlanta home, including former
Falcons quarterbacks Steve Bartkowski and Bobby Hebert.
"In fact, that might be a place where we ultimately settle," Chandler said. "My
youngest daughter was born there, we have a lot of great memories about living
there. I could forget about the football and never think about it again and be
Just not yet. Chandler spent the 2002 and 2003 seasons in Chicago, before
joining the Rams last March. After seeing more playing time than Marc Bulger
this preseason, Chandler quickly has shifted into the background as the No. 2
quarterback. During the week, the preparation is the same.
"You have to study a lot, and you have to get mentally ready to go no matter
what your role is," Chandler said.
But game day, obviously, is different as a backup.
"There's a little more uncertainty as far as your playing situation," Chandler
said. "You know, it could come on any play, or it might not come at all."
Even if it doesn't, Chandler must be on his toes, because he relays the play
calls in from coach Mike Martz to Bulger.
"So knowing all the verbiage is really important for me," Chandler said,
laughing. "I'm the middle man, so I have a lot to worry about.
"Things go fast on Sundays, and so me and Marc study a lot and we do talk a lot
about how things are called. We try to have a really good communication between
us, because ultimately that's the last thing he hears."
Re: Chandler blocks Falcons out of his mindChandler never wears his NFC championship ring from that magical '98 season of
Over his entire NFL career, Chandler has played on only two teams that finished the season with winning records."Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
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