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Arthur Blank: The #19 Owner In The NFL?

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I'm a few days late to the party on SI's new Michael Silver piece, but I felt I had to say something about Arthur Blank's #19 rating in the article. As I raced down the list and kept not seeing his name, I had a sneaking suspicion that Vick would factor heavily into any criticism of Blank. Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed:

Blank's another guy who's fun to talk to, and I like his intensity level and willingness to spend, but somebody has to say what Blank himself must be starting to realize by now: He is the league's most conspicuous enabler. From pushing around the injured Michael Vick in a wheelchair on the Georgia Dome sidelines in 2003 to excusing virtually every irresponsible move the quarterback has made, Blank has done his franchise and its fans a disservice.

In football, no one player is bigger than the team, but Blank spent years giving everyone the opposite impression. Even after the horribly timed Matt Schaub trade to the Texans -- and even though the following defies conventional wisdom, because he'd get nothing in return (other than a chance to cut his losses) -- Blank should swallow hard and make a statement by cutting Vick -- the inevitable grievance from the players' association be damned.

So what you're saying is the sole reason Blank is down here with Bud Adams and Al Davis (what great company!) is because he's been an enabler for Vick? I'm sorry, that doesn't quite fly with me. There's no doubt that Blank has coddled Vick at every visible opportunity, and the wheelchair incident is  a worse example than the ridiculous contract he cheerfully gave his star QB after he'd been more flash than flavor for his entire career. At the same time, though, Blank has made the Falcons a visible franchise for people who live outside of Atlanta. He's invested heavily in the community and clearly wants to put a good team on the field, his Vick fetish and penchant for local players aside. If you're dropping him to the lower-middle of the pack just because of his treatment of Vick, well, I guess you have to believe that's screwed the franchise over completely. Considering the Georgia Dome's still standing and the team's got some real talent, I'm not ready to concede that yet.

And as for the idea of cutting him...Blank's a businessman. He almost certainly likes the idea of getting money out of Vick rather than flushing untold millions down the drain by cutting him. This is--and should be--Vick's last shot with this team under Pet Rhino, but cutting him puts the team in a painful financial situation that certainly won't help the Falcons contend. Personally, I would've pick Blank at about 12 on that list for everything he's done, and still busted him down about 11 spots for the crappy situation he's found himself in with Vick.

I do thank the spirit of Tommy Nobis that Al Davis is lower on that list, though.

Update [2007-7-6 20:34:33 by Dave the Falconer]: Thanks to Hamburger again for reminding me of something I had forgotten about. If you haven't seen the new Atlanta Falcons Official Page, do yourself a favor and check it out. It's extremely disorienting at first, but once you get used to it it's a pretty terrific setup.