An NFC South rivalry gone too far?

July, 28, 2012
7/28/12
10:46
AM ET
In recent years, the rivalry between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons has been the best in the NFC South. Heck, I think it’s become one of the NFL’s best rivalries.

There have been some great games and even some heated words, especially after a 2010 game in which the Saints took pictures on the Falcons’ logo after a victory in the Georgia Dome. Add on this year’s free-agent defection by linebacker Curtis Lofton from Atlanta to New Orleans and the rivalry should only go stronger.

But now there is evidence the rivalry may be going too far. James Varney reports that the Falcons refused to allow their logo and images to be included in a “Rebirth’’ statue of Steve Gleason that was unveiled outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday. The statue captures a classic moment in Saints history.

It portrays Gleason’s crucial block of a punt in the first game the Saints played in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The 2006 game was against the Falcons and Gleason blocked Michael Koenen’s punt.

There’s a punter in the statue, but he’s not in an Atlanta uniform and Koenen’s name isn’t on the back of the punter’s figure in the statue.

I understand this was a great moment for the Saints, but not for the Falcons. But I think that not allowing the use of Atlanta’s logo and images might be going a bit too far.

Anyone that walks by that statue that knows anything about history knows that the punt block game against the Falcons and that Koenen, who now plays for Tampa Bay, was the punter.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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