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Arthur Blank Reflects On A Long Year

If you're Arthur Blank, is money alone enough to help you get through the hardest times?

The answer is obviously no, as the AJC's Mark Bradley found out. On the one year anniversary of Michael Vick's federal indictment, Blank has watched his star QB go to jail, watched his expensive new coach flee the team, and watched the team itself motor its way to one of the worst records in the league. While I'll always argue that it's most depressing for the fans who worship and pay to watch the team, Blank literally owns this mess and had to deal with it 24/7 over the last year. That's a pretty hefty load for anyone:

One year later, the Falcons owner speaks of 2007 as “the season that never ended. Every day there was another twist to the story — there was the Michael Vick story, and then there was the Bobby Petrino story. It was like someone kept adding another stick of wood to the fire.”

Then, after a pause: “But fires do burn out.”

I like to think that Blank is now a year older and wiser. Though I still suspect he was either guiding the Matt Ryan selection or at least very enthusiastic about it, he hired the workmanlike Thomas Dimitroff and allowed the selection of Mike Smith, a bland coach who could do very good things in Atlanta. He also allowed Dimitroff to gut the roster, letting loose stars like Alge Crumpler and DeAngelo Hall. Most importantly, he seems ready to leave last year in the rear-view mirror.

As a writer, I'm drawn inexorably toward the past, because that's where all the material is for me to compile and analyze. When a year like last year happens, though, the fan in me starts to get sick of all the bad things piling up. So with that firmly in mind, I'm glad to see Blank thinking forward, as I know we all are right now. It'll come up again, but for now I'm content to bury the past for a little bit and see what the future brings us. I'm hoping it brings us a franchise that is, from top to bottom, a little less likely to get burned. If the whole Mike Vick experience taught us anything, it's that nothing in the NFL is ever a sure thing.