Things went from bad to worse for several members of the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff after blowing Super Bowl LI. A group including defensive coordinator Richard Smith and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan got stuck upstairs in the press box without an elevator ride down to the locker room, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
When the game ended, the assistants stepped out of their coaching box and went to the elevators. As a general rule, elevators are held for coaches before media — or fans seated in luxury boxes — can use them. But that wasn’t the case this time. The elevators were on other floors taking fans.
— After more than five minutes, the coaches were told it might be best to walk down. So they descended a staircase and soon found themselves walking in an NRG plaza with fans, outside of concession stands, as several New England fans were shouting and celebrating their team’s win.
— The group waded their way through the crowd for about 50 yards, then somebody shouted for them to hook back because an elevator would pick them up from that floor. So they all walked to the elevators and waited. It was another several minutes before an elevator came, but not before all had vented to stadium employees and Shanahan let out some expletives. Shanahan eventually walked away to lean against a wall and cool off. In total, it was at least 20 minutes from the time the coaches waited for their first elevator before they reached the ground floor.
Salt, meet gaping wound.
In the big picture, of course, a little elevator snafu is small potatoes compared to the second-guessing Shanahan will be subjected to for the rest of his coaching career. It’s going to be very, very difficult to put such historic game mismanagement in the rearview window.
Considering his role in the Falcons’ meltdown, it’s a bit bizarre that he was in such a rush to get downstairs to be with his team. If anything, the delay should have allowed a little extra time to come up with an excuse — whatever that might be.