One of the most enduring streaks in Georgia sports, one that spanned nearly half a century and 30 losing seasons, ended Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons superfan and World War II veteran Joe Curtis, who had attended every home game in the team’s history, missed the Falcons’ showdown with the New Orleans Saints in the Georgia Dome.
It was the first time the Falcons have played on Georgia soil without Curtis in attendance.
The 96-year-old Curtis, who lives in Macon and is in poor health, has been a Falcons season-ticket holder since 1966, the year the team started playing at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
By missing Sunday’s game, Curtis’ string of consecutive home games attended ended at 376.
Curtis, a retired Air Force colonel whose vision is failing, couldn’t watch Sunday’s game on TV.
He just knows the Falcons won.
“Wouldn’t it be great if they carry on (winning)?” Curtis, a former fighter pilot, said Monday.
In the crowd at Sunday’s game, friends asked about Curtis -- known to the Falcons’ faithful as “Colonel Joe” -- when they noticed he wasn’t in his seat.
“Wow,” fan Larry Hall, an Atlanta bar owner, said. “Not seeing the colonel, something is missing. ... He’s the godfather of this section.”
Not to mention a die-hard devotee, who has stayed true to a franchise that overall has won 330 games while losing 426. In 1999, Curtis and other devout followers of NFL teams were saluted in an exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Curtis, whose seats at the dome are near the 50-yard line, 32 rows up from the visiting team’s bench, for decades bought a block of 10 season tickets.
He wasn’t sure he would make it to many, if any, games this year.
Even so, he bought a pair of season tickets.
Out of habit, perhaps.
Habit and hope.
Telegraph reporter Joe Kovac Jr. has known Curtis for about a decade and has driven him to Falcons games for the past several years. To contact Kovac, call 744-4397.