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Falcons season ticket holder for 51 years headed to Super Bowl

The anticipation is almost over for Atlanta Falcons fans ready for Super Bowl Sunday.

One woman has been waiting 51 years for the Falcons to win a championship.

Linda Lee Tourgler bleeds red and black. She has had season tickets 51 years, since the team's inception.

Her husband of 13 years says he prayed to find a woman who loved football. 

>>Complete Super Bowl LI content

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"And all of a sudden who knows why the Lord blessed me so much that the woman he gave me had season tickets to the Falcons," Chuck Tourgler said.

Linda Lee Tourgler says her father's best friend gave them four season tickets 51 years ago.

She's kept them through some lean times.

"I can remember when I wore a bag over my head in F.C. stadium. But I am proud of them," Linda Tourgler said.

She won the ticket lottery and she and her husband are going to the Super Bowl.

"They call it the brotherhood but I think it's just the unity of the team," Linda Tourgler said when asked what helped get the team over the hump this year.

They moved to Florida, so they drive seven hours to home games.

"She goes, 'There's one thing I'm not going to give up: my season tickets, so you're gonna have to drive up,'" Chuck Tourgler said.

It will make it all worth it when the Falcons win the Super Bowl, they say.

Linda Tourgler says she doesn't foresee giving up her tickets soon. The couple already has season tickets in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.

"I just love it. I love it. It's in my blood," she said.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank had no idea his dance moves would go viral

Falcons owner Arthur Blank didn't think he’d become such an internet star for his dance moves.

"It looks more like chicken flapping to me," he demurred during a pre-Super Bowl meeting with reporters.

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford captured his slick moves on Instagram during a Jan. 14 locker-room celebration.

Wait for it..! A video posted by Robert Alford (@robertalford) on Jan 14, 2017 at 5:04pm PST

On Friday, Blank was asked if he had worked out a potential dance routine to celebrate a win on Sunday. Blank chuckled and said his previous reverie had been quite spontaneous, and if the Falcons triumph on Sunday, whatever moves he breaks out will be as well.

"It’ll be the dance of the emotion of the moment," Blank said. "If I had to prescribe what a dance would look like, it wouldn’t look good.

"I never thought my dance moves would get the kind of exposure they have, but people have been very patient with that."

As for other game-day prep, Blank said he’ll stick close to his usual routine: arrive at the stadium hours ahead of time, spend time with coaches and players, patrol the sidelines for a while and convene with his club in the locker room right before game time.

He expects a competitive, high-scoring match-up.

"I’m not nervous at all," he said. "I’m anxious for Sunday to be here."

Zac Brown Band to headline pre-Super Bowl concert

Grammy-winning group Zac Brown Band will headline a pre-game concert at NRG Stadium prior to kickoff, the NFL announced Friday.

The Atlanta country rockers will will perform “My Old Man” from their upcoming new album “Welcome Home.”

>> Read more trending stories 

The group will be accompanied by indie-pop group Fitz and the Tantrums on stage before the championship game.

Both performances will air during the Fox NFL pregame show.

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here  

Zac Brown Band and country singer Luke Bryan, who will sing the National Anthem, both have roots in Georgia.

Lady Gaga will perform at halftime.

>> Lady Gaga ups anticipation of Super Bowl on social media 

Other performers who will appear during Sunday's festivities include, "Hamilton" stars Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, who will sing "America the Beautiful," according to Billboard.

Falcons fans stranded after thinking they booked trip to Super Bowl

Some Atlanta Falcons fans are upset after they paid money for a bus trip to Houston, but the bus never showed up. Fans were even more upset when the woman who organized the trip showed up in Houston.

>> Read more trending stories  

Carolyn Freeman is known as the Bird Lady. She is the unofficial mascot of the Falcons.

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here    She said she is not the bad person people are making her out to be.

"I know I'm a good person. People love me. Even though people try and turn on me and be mad right now," Freeman told WSB-TV.

Falcons fans are upset with her because many of them believe she turned on them. Freeman organized a bus trip from Atlanta to Houston for Falcons fans.

Some people signed up for packages that included event tickets and hotel rooms. When fans showed up Wednesday to head to Houston, there was no bus, no tickets and no hotel rooms.  Freeman said it wasn't her fault.

"I got lied to, and I got scammed," she said, near tears.

Freeman said a friend told her about a man who wanted her to be the face of the bus trip. Her face is on the flyer.

But she said fans paid him for the trip through his website, and she had nothing to do with the money.

Freeman said that now, he won't return her calls.

WSB-TV tried to call him, but got no answer. The station didn't name the man because he hasn't been charged.

Fans became incensed when they saw video of Freeman on a plane to Houston.

She knew that didn't sit well.

"I said, 'Watch and see. As soon as somebody sees me on this plane, they're going to turn on me.' Everybody loved me before I got on that plane, but when I got on that plane, everybody hated me," she said.

Now, Freeman is in Houston trying to find a way to get fans here. She said she has two buses and is trying to find hotels.

WSB-TV asked her what has she learned.

"Check the facts. You got to check everybody because everybody is not an honest person," she said.

Freeman said she doesn't have a hotel to stay in because the one promised to her was never booked.

Super Bowl 2017: Columnist says plenty of reasons to root against 'Trump's team'

Sports fans hoping to escape the divisive political atmosphere on Sunday by watching the Super Bowl may be out of luck.Ed Kilgore is a Democratic commentator and New York Magazine columnist with deep roots in Georgia.In New York magazine, Kilgore suggests that Sunday’s Super Bowl match between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots may be the billboard – but the subtext is a match between President Donald Trump and Georgia Congressman John Lewis and his maligned fifth district, which is home to the Falcons.

>>Complete Super Bowl LI content

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Twas Trump's expressed contempt for Atlanta & its civil-rights-icon congressman that really politicized Super Bowl. https://t.co/hHKNgyAcAR— Ed Kilgore (@ed_kilgore) February 3, 2017

Just before the presidential inauguration, Trump and Lewis engaged in a bitter feud, with Lewis vowing not to attend the inauguration because he didn't view the Trump presidency as legitimate, and Trump firing back on Twitter, saying Lewis should spend his time fixing the broken community he represents. It was noted by Atlanta media and residents of the fifth district that the area contains some of Atlanta's wealthiest communities."The Pats have an unholy trinity of conspicuous associations with the 45th president of the United States," Kilgore writes.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are known to be on friendly terms with Trump. Along with citing the dustup with Lewis, Kilgore points to a recent survey from Public Policy Polling that shows the Pats are even more disliked nationally than Trump. Kilgore concludes that most Trump voters will likely be rooting for the Falcons Sunday night, not the Patriots.As for Kilgore, he says that while he's from Georgia, he's more of a college football fan.

Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Super Bowl: Why not move NFL's big game to Saturday?

As the Super Bowl kicks off Sunday night, we know what some fans are thinking: Since many already consider game day as sacred as a national holiday, why not play just the game on a Saturday night? Sounds smart, right? Turns out, there are some facts to back that up.

After all, moving the game to Saturday could potentially drive up TV ratings, make it easier for people to go to Super Bowl parties, and, the biggest perk of all, let fans stay up later and down some beers without worrying about the alarm clock the next day.

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here

A 2008 survey found 1.5 million people were expected to call in sick the Monday after the game. Another prominent study said the day after the game is a “productivity killer for employers,” with companies losing almost $300 million in wages for every 10 minutes workers spend talking about the game or watching highlights. (Not that you know any fans who do that, right?)

Recently, Kraft Heinz took a step toward making fans’ dreams come true, giving its workers a day off Monday and calling for the entire country to do the same. The company’s online petition had more than 50,000 signatures. 

>> Read more trending stories

Fans have taken to Facebook in recent years, hoping move the game, and some have tried to do the same on change.org. Others have gone as far as to push for moving Presidents Day to the day after the Super Bowl.

With all this support, you’d think the NFL would have made the move by now.

Well, it’s not quite that simple. 

In 2011, league spokesman Brian McCarthy told SI.com, “We hear this each year,” before adding that “fans expect to see the Super Bowl on a Sunday,” when a vast majority of the league’s games are played.

Fair enough, though when it comes to big business -- and make no mistake, the Super Bowl is -- money talks, and that’s where the idea of a Saturday Super Bowl hits a rocky road.

Moving the game a day earlier likely would take a big bite from the money spent in host cities every year, from shorter hotel stays to less money spent on meals and entertainment, including a long list of flashy pre-game parties and events. After all, if you are shelling out hundreds of bucks (or more) to head to the game, who wants to stick around the day after?

So what, you say? It’s all about watching the game on TV, right? 

Maybe so, though prime-time TV ratings on Saturday night have long lagged behind those on Sunday night, two experts told SI.com. And even though ratings for NFL games this season are down, the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 100 million viewers are expected to watch Sunday’s game, even though it will likely end at about 10 p.m. EST.

For the average fan who won’t see a penny from any of this, wouldn’t a 10 p.m. finish on a Saturday night feel a lot better than knowing you have to punch in or call in “sick” the next morning?

Former Atlanta Falcon Deion Sanders says he doesn't hate Patriots' Tom Brady

Former Atlanta Falcons (and Braves) player turned analyst Deion Sanders was among the NFL Network personalities who met with reporters today. One of the questions he received was rather succinct: "Why do people hate Tom Brady?"

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here

Sanders wasn’t having it.

"You can’t speak for people. I’m a person. I don’t hate Tom Brady," he said of the New England Patriots quarterback. "Players don’t hate Tom Brady. We love Tom Brady – past and present. I don’t agree with that statement. Hate is a strong word. Hate is such a violent word."

Although he played with a number of teams during his career, Sanders said he considers himself a Falcon. But he declined to rank players or give predictions regarding Sunday’s game.

"That’s Dionne Warwick, not Sanders," he quipped, referencing the singer who once hosted the Psychic Friends Network.

Animals make adorable Super Bowl predictions

It only took a few treats to persuade these animals to become instant football fans.

Animals from zoos and wildlife sanctuaries from around the country are showing their Super Bowl spirit by engaging in fun game prediction exercises. Even Gen. Beauregard Lee, Georgia's prognosticating groundhog, did double duty Thursday morning, predicting an early spring and a Falcons win.

>>Georgia groundhog predicts early spring, Falcons win

>>Complete Super Bowl LI content

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Overall, there doesn't seem to be a clear winner, but even Patriots and Falcons fans can agree these predictions are adorable.

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/wacky-super-bowl-predictions/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/wacky-super-bowl-predictions.js?header=none&amp;border=false"></script> [View the story "Animals make Super Bowl predictions" on Storify]

10 moments that defined the Atlanta Falcons 2016 season

 1.    Falcons lose first game to Tampa Bay

The Falcons lost the season-opener and its first division game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24. The team was only 1-4 in the red zone and there were several issues with tackling. It may have seemed at this point that there was no way the team could win the division, let alone make a trip to the Super Bowl, but things turned around.

2.    Rookie Deion Jones’ homecoming in the Superdome  

Rookie cornerback and New Orleans native Deion Jones made a statement in the Falcons game against the Saints. With the Saints in the red zone, Drew Brees threw a pass that was tipped by cornerback Brian Poole into the arms of Deion Jones, who ran it back for a 90-yard touchdown. The Falcons won that game 45-32.

>> Read more trending news  

3.    Julio Jones sets franchise record with 300 receiving yards

Wide-receiver Julio Jones reminded the world that he is one of the best with a 300-yard receiving game against the Carolina Panthers. Jones hit 300 yards on his 12th catch of the game, a 75-yard catch and run touchdown from Matt Ryan. Jones shattered his own record of 249 yards set against Green Bay in 2014. The Falcons defeated the Panthers 48-33.

4.    Falcons beat Denver on the road, proving they’re the real deal

A real test for the Falcons came in the fifth game of the season against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos touted one of the best defenses in the league, but the Falcons had an answer. The Falcons had some success running the ball and Matt Ryan went 15 of 28 for 267 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta defeated the defending Super Bowl champs 23-16.   

Related: Preview of 2017 Super Bowl commercials: Budweiser takes on immigration

5.    No-call for pass interference on Richard Sherman

The Falcons lost a close game to the Seahawks following a controversial no-call on cornerback Richard Sherman. Down by two points with less than 2 minutes left in the game, Matt Ryan threw a deep pass to Julio Jones on 4th and 10. Sherman grabbed Jones’ arm, pulling him down and stopping from making the catch. No flags were thrown, so Seattle gained possession, effectively ending the game. The loss stung for Falcons fans, but the team would get its revenge in the playoffs.

6.    Falcons win thriller against the Green Bay Packers

Following two tough losses to the Seahawks and the Chargers, the Falcons got back on track by rallying from behind to beat the Packers. Green Bay took a 32-26 lead with 3:58 remaining after the Falcons were caught with too many men on the field and the Packers were given a first down rather than having 4th and 1. Atlanta responded by driving down the field, and Matt Ryan hit Mohammed Sanu for an 11-yard touchdown with 31 seconds left. Matt Bryant’s extra point sealed the deal and the Falcons walked away with the win.

7.    Falcons lose to Chiefs on failed 2-point conversion attempt

Chiefs safety and Atlanta native Eric Berry wreaked havoc on the Falcons in their week 13 matchup. Berry picked Ryan off twice, taking both to the house. The first time was on a 1st and 10 in the second quarter. The second, a devastating pick on a two-point conversion try. As tough as the 29-28 loss was, going into the Super Bowl, it was the last time the Falcons lost this season.

Related: Law enforcement: Beware of fake Super Bowl tickets

8.    Matt Ryan plays like the MVP

Quarterback Matt Ryan made his case for MVP in a big way in 2016. Anchoring the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, he threw touchdown passes to 13 different receivers throughout the course of the season. “Matty Ice" set franchise records in passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage and passer rating. His 117.1 rating was the fifth-highest in a season. Ryan is a top candidate for the Associated Press MVP Award, which was voted on before the playoffs and will be announced during Super Bowl week.

9.    Falcons defeat Seahawks, earning trip to NFC Championship

The Falcons returned to the post season for the first time since 2012, defeating the Seahawks for a trip to the NFC Championship game. After the Seahawks drove down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive, Matt Ryan and the Falcons' high-scoring offense took over from there. The Falcons were aided by a holding penalty that wiped out a Devin Hester 80-yard punt return, and when the center stepped on Russell Wilson’s foot causing him to fall into the end zone for a safety. The Falcons took the win 36-20.

>>For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here   

10.  Atlanta sacks the Pack to head to Houston

In the final game at the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Green Bay Packers 44-21 to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns and rushed for one of his own. The Falcons defense shut out the Packers in the first half and rattled Aaron Rodgers throughout the game. The Falcons now head to their first Super Bowl since the 1998 season, and only the second in franchise history. 

Children's hospital patients 'Rise Up' for Falcons

They’re some of the Atlanta Falcons’ smallest and strongest supporters – the little fighters at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta are toughing out their treatments to cheer on the Falcons just days away from the Super Bowl.

The children’s hospital posted photos of its little “dirty birds” decked out in Falcons gear.

>>Complete Super Bowl coverage

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Ella, who is battling Langerhans cell histiocytosis, is all smiles as she wears her custom-made Falcons gown. The 15-month-old was diagnosed with the very rare form of cancer when she was 7 months old. Ella has been living at the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for about two months. Her grandmother made the Falcons hospital gown for her to wear during the NFC championship. 

Ella is in her eighth month of chemo battling Langerhans cell histiocytosis. As this little fighter cheers on the Atlanta Falcons in a custom-made gown, she's hoping for a win against cancer, too!Posted by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta on Monday, January 30, 2017

The hospital even produced a video showing its patients and staff doing “the Arthur,” the Falcons' owner Arthur Blank’s now-famous dance.

Patients and Staff Do the ArthurHey, Atlanta Falcons: When you take the field tomorrow, remember that our patients and staff will be rising up, doing “the Arthur” and cheering for you from across the city!Posted by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta on Saturday, January 21, 2017

The hospital also posted a photo (below) of 17-month-old Wyatt, who has garnered thousands of likes on the hospital's Facebook page. Wyatt was diagnosed with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism. He was later diagnosed with spinal cord stenosis, a condition commonly found in dwarfism, in which a child’s head is disproportionate to his or her smaller frame. Cervical collars were used to reduce pressure and avoid surgery.

Today, thanks to a fashionable set of 30 collars, Wyatt’s spinal stenosis is almost completely resolved, and there is no surgery in his future.

Our Atlanta Falcons are Super Bowl bound! #RiseUpPosted by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta on Sunday, January 22, 2017

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