ATLANTA – Empathy is hard to find in the NFL. But near the end of a debacle in Dixie, the Falcons’ coach unleashed unprecedented mercy.
Leading 41-7, Mike Smith ordered his quarterback to take a knee four times in succession, even though his team could not run out the clock. He simply gave the ball back to a wounded opponent. And though the gesture was classy and well-intended, the embarrassment was profound.