Our short, regional nightmare is finally over. The Atlanta Falcons are trading Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans after the wide receiver made it abundantly clear (thanks to Shannon Sharpe) that he wanted out of town.
Falcons fans were likely already resigned to the outcome but that doesn’t make it less of a bummer that they’ll have to say goodbye to one of the biggest playmakers in franchise history. In 10 seasons with Atlanta, Jones amassed 12,896 receiving yards and 60 TD receptions while also becoming a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team and helping the Falcons make it to Super Bowl LI.
So however his time in Atlanta was going to end, it was bound to be emotional and worthy of tribute. But the type of tribute the Falcons decided to go with seemed to leave a lot of room open to interpretation. Atlanta’s Twitter account posted a photo of Jones walking into billowing clouds while fighter jets flew overhead. It was hard not to read the imagery as if the wide receiver was on his way to heaven instead of Nashville, TN.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 6, 2021
Out of context, if you just came across that photo without any knowledge of what was happening, you’d think Julio Jones died, right? That’s the most logical conclusion. And what are the fighter jets about? Why are they even there?
Unless the Falcons are going for some kind of abstract artistic concept here, it certainly reads as if Julio has shuffled loose the mortal coil, and plenty of people seemed to read it that way as well.
RIP Julio Jones. Fly high on Angel wings. https://t.co/GpMOTvB6VM
— Bunkie Perkins (@BunkiePerkins) June 6, 2021
RIP to Falcons legend Julio Jones, who perished Saturday morning in a bombing operation over Aleppo. https://t.co/L9KU9dXo5h
— Colin McGowan (@cs_mcgowan) June 6, 2021
take a moment today to reflect on Julio Jones' ultimate sacrifice for his country #neverforget https://t.co/zjWowe1jC4
— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) June 6, 2021
can’t believe julio jones died https://t.co/4eXxh1vGvF
— Maddy (@MAD_abouta_LOT) June 6, 2021
RIP Julio. He's with the Jets now. (I have no idea what this graphic is supposed to mean) https://t.co/cQd8zclx9k
— Trevor__Green (@Trevor__Green) June 6, 2021
He didn’t die. He’s just leaving. ? https://t.co/1kJ1tF1dai
— Heather Lloyd (@ByHeatherLloyd) June 6, 2021
Not they photo shopped this man in cloud like he died ??? this the most Atlanta reaction ??? https://t.co/pE07v1lTU8
— king ? (@kinggike) June 6, 2021
Is Julio alright? I thought he just got traded not left this earth. https://t.co/5hecvkaqNk
— Marco Serna (@mjserna) June 6, 2021
RIP Julio Jones apparently https://t.co/JtqKIzzyEX
— HIRE PENNY (Formerly Chuck (VERIFlED)) (@otowncharles) June 6, 2021
FWIW the Falcons have done a lot of solid work on social media over the years. Though to be fair, it’s also not the first time their good intentions backfired.