Be­lieve it or not, not ev­ery­one is root­ing for Pats

Col­lege hoop stand­outs call South home

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By BREN­DAN McGAIR bm­c­gair@paw­tuck­et­times.com

Among the lo­cals of the sport­ing world, we have a few Fal­cons’ fans; plus At­lanta QB Matt Ryan, left, is still revered at BC.

As loyal and diehard fans of the At­lanta Fal­cons, Rod­ney Bul­lock and Hunter Ware find them­selves in the heart of enemy ter­ri­tory this week.

Like the New Eng­land re­gion they call home dur­ing the school year, Bul­lock and Ware are gear­ing up for Sun­day’s big game in Hous­ton. Nei­ther of the Di­vi­sion I col­lege bas­ket­ball ju­niors – Bul­lock at Prov­i­dence with Ware up the road at Bryant – are about to hide their al­le­giance just be­cause it would spare them rib­bing or teas­ing. They’re root­ers of the Fal­cons and they’re proud to see their beloved team sit­ting just one step away from achiev­ing Su­per Bowl glory.

“I can’t wait,” Bul­lock said prior to the Fri­ars hit­ting the floor for Mon­day’s prac­tice at Alumni Hall.

Added Bryant’s Ware, “A lot of peo­ple around here are go­ing to talk trash to me, but I’ll take what­ever I need to take.”

Both play­ers credit their re­spec­tive up­bring­ing for the pri­mary rea­son they cheer for this year’s NFC rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Su­per Bowl LI.

Bul­lock hails from Hamp­ton, Va. – less than 10 miles away from the home­town of one­time Fal­cons quar­ter­back icon Michael Vick. Nat­u­rally, Bul­lock was drawn to the star power that made Vick a house­hold name be­fore his ca­reer hit a down­ward spi­ral fol­low­ing an il­le­gal dog fight­ing ring that re­sulted in At­lanta sev­er­ing ties with the former No. 1 over­all draft pick.

Bul­lock’s sup­port of the Fal­cons did not wane de­spite the re­moval of Vick from the ros­ter. He still has the No. 7 Vick jer­sey he wore with pride as a young­ster, though Bul­lock ad­mit­ted that it might be time for him to up­date his wardrobe and pur­chase the replica jer­sey of a player from the cur­rent ros­ter.

“(At­lanta wide re­ceiver) Julio Jones is my fa­vorite player now,” Bul­lock said.

The ex­pla­na­tion be­hind Ware’s card-car­ry­ing pref­er­ence for the Fal­cons is twofold.

The Bryant guard was born and bred in Pow­der Springs, Ga. As a young boy, fre­quent trips were made the Ge­or­gia Dome to see the At­lanta play­ers strut their feath­ers in front of the home crowd. At­lanta is lit­tle more than half an hour away from Ware’s home­town.

Like Bul­lock, Ware grew up a huge Vick fan.

“I was up­set when he left, but [cur­rent At­lanta QB] Matt Ryan has held it down for us,” Ware said af­ter Bryant’s over­time win over Fair­leigh Dick­in­son on Satur­day.

The other rea­son why Ware bleeds the Fal­cons’ col­ors of red and black stems from his mom Lisa. She grew up in Alabama and at­tended the Univer­sity of Alabama. That’s the same SEC school that Jones went to be­fore join­ing At­lanta and be­com­ing one of the NFL’s most elec­tri­fy­ing wide­outs.

Ware doesn’t have any Fal­cons gear lurk­ing in his dorm closet at Bryant. He did men­tion the pos­si­bil­ity of his mom mail­ing a jer­sey so that he has some­thing to wear come Su­per Bowl Sun­day.

“I ac­tu­ally wanted to face Tom Brady so that I can have a ri­valry with the New Eng­land fans,” Ware said. “It’s the game that Fal­con Na­tion wanted.”

As for their game-view­ing plans, Bul­lock will watch the Su­per Bowl in the com­fort and peace of his dorm room. Ware plans to do the op­po­site.

“I’m one of those guys who likes to have a good time,” Ware said. “I’ve got to have some­body … the op­po­nent … next to me.”

Nat­u­rally, both are pre­dict­ing Sun­day to be a big day for the Fal­cons.

“They’re go­ing to blow (the Pa­tri­ots) out,” Bul­lock said with a smile.

“I hon­estly be­lieve they’re go­ing to win,” Ware said. “If I had to make a pre­dic­tion, I would say it’ll be close. At­lanta, 17-14.”

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Prov­i­dence’s Rod­ney Bul­lock, who grew up near Michael Vick’s home­town of Hamp­ton Roads, Vir­ginia, will be sup­port­ing the At­lanta Fal­cons in Sun­day’s Su­per Bowl against the Pa­tri­ots. Bryant’s Hunter Ware is also cheer­ing for the Fal­cons.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

While Rhode Is­land na­tive and Prov­i­dence coach Ed Coo­ley is pulling for the Pa­tri­ots in the Su­per Bowl, ju­nior Rod­ney Bul­lock is back­ing the At­lanta Fal­cons.

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