News - Snake-eyes (2)

Body language

The Falcons almost pulled out a win against the Saints Sunday afternoon. But of course, in the end, they did not, losing 21-19.
Down in the concrete recesses of the Georgia Dome, the 2-6 Falcons trudged quietly off the field and into the locker room. Coach Rich Brooks slapped a painted yellow concrete post as he went by, but other than that there was no sound, no eye contact, nothing.
Until Chris Chandler came along. Wearing the expressionless expression he always has, win or lose, he looked straight ahead, then glanced to his left when he sensed someone beside him. It was wide receiver Shawn Jefferson. Chandler grinned; they slapped hands.
With this record, they're high-fiving?
With this record, you take your good news where you can find it. And the good news for the Falcons' quarterback is that he can throw downfield to the tandem of Jefferson and Terance Mathis.
So why doesn't he?
To find out, we pick our way through the discarded tape jobs (lest they stick to the bottoms of our shoes) and puckered orange halves (just the thing after another loss) while dodging kids hauling equipment bags to the truck. We station ourselves by Chandler's locker and wait. His shoes, socks and pale green V-neck knit shirt are still here, so there is a better-than-even chance that he is, too. Besides, I saw him walking — very slowly — into the training room.
By the time Chandler appears, his left shoulder glowing bright red from icing, all the Falcons but two have left. So have most of the reporters.
TV types: This must be disappointing ... blah, blah, blah.
Radio bozo: Talk to me about how disappointing this is ... blah, blah blah.
"It depends," Chandler says evenly. "When we finally decide to go downfield, things work out."
When we finally decide?
The media knot disperses; a pair of security guards is left. Chandler leans over, his body balancing on one foot, to pick up his shoes. He isn't wearing a brace for his bruised ribs, but they are obviously killing him.
He says he believes that opening the field vertically helps the running game and the short passing game, too. He says that good things have happened every time he's been able to throw long.
So? Why doesn't he? "I don't call the plays."
But he has the ball. Why doesn't he do something insubordinate and heave it? "I don't have time to be insubordinate."
Have you campaigned to open up the game? Who is stopping you?
The hint of a smile crosses his lips. "That," he finally replies, dragging his aching body out the door, "is not for public consumption."
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