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Ovie Mughelli and Atlanta Athletes walk on the wild side at Zoolebrity Day

Posted by TSUE on June 17, 2008

Ovie Mughelli and Atlanta Athletes walk on the wild side at Zoolebrity Day

Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli went to the zoo Saturday – and found it a much tamer place than his team’s tumultuous 2007 season.

“Last year was like a circus and a zoo for us,” Mughelli said with a laugh. “It was crazy – wild animals running around everywhere, no one keeping us in check, no one keeping us in our cages. You could make a lot of zoo analogies.”

Mughelli, along with Falcons offensive tackle Todd Weiner, Atlanta Dream WNBA players, Georgia Tech athletes and others, were on hand for Zoo Atlanta’s Sports Zoolebrity Day on Saturday. For several hours, they greeted fans, posed for photos and signed autographs.

Among the celebrities, Mughelli and Weiner drew the most interest, although certainly they were no competition for the elephants or the zoo’s new warthog piglet.

Appearing relaxed and rejuvenated in their Falcons jerseys, Mughelli and Weiner heard only well wishes for 2008.

The fans, at least the ones at the zoo, seemed to have moved on from the most chaotic year any Atlanta team has ever had – a 2007 Falcons season that included the imprisonment of quarterback Michael Vick, the dark-of-night departure of coach Bobby Petrino and a 4-12 record.

“No one is talking about the on-field and off-field situations of last year,” Mughelli said appreciatively. “I think Falcons fans see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

He said he sees the same. “Now we have order, structure and purpose,” he said, crediting new head coach Mike Smith and staff.

After being scarcely used by Petrino last year, Mughelli said he is certain he’ll be “an integral cog” this year, his second season with the Falcons.

But his mind was more on animals than football Saturday. “I love animals,” the 245-pound fullback said. “I want a pet monkey – little and cute.”

TIM TUCKER

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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