Falcons, Saints show pregame display of unity

  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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The Saints' 45-32 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome marked the 10th anniversary of the Saints' return to New Orleans following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city.

In addition to recognizing the long road the city of New Orleans has come since the 2005 disaster, Saints and Falcons players engaged in a pregame show of unity in response to social issues affecting millions in the United States. After the singing of the national anthem, players from both teams joined hands and locked arms in a circle at midfield and observed a moment of silence.

"Violence and what is happening in our country is a serious issue," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said after the game. "We felt like an appropriate way to show our unity and bring attention to that was by making that circle together. Locked arms, taking a moment of silence to pray, to be in thought, meditation, whatever you want to do to show that this is a way we would like to give it attention after the national anthem to show that we're all in this together."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said his teammates were on board with joining the Saints in their message of unity after finding out about the team's plans.

"I reached out to Drew and just told him we were on board," Ryan said. "I think that the big this that, obviously, everybody knows what's going on throughout this entire year and for a long time. And people think things need to change and I felt like the best way to do it is everybody do it together ... Unity is probably the best way to make a change and I thought that came across loud and clear tonight."

One Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, a New Orleans native, paid respect to the Saints' New Orleans return after Katrina with his footwear. The symbols on his cleats reflect how search and rescue teams marked area houses following the disaster in 2005. The cleats later carried Jones to an impressive, 90-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter vs. the Saints.