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Arthur Blank inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame Saturday

He’s a deserving choice.

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have NFL Hall of Famers and local sports Hall of Famers, but did they have an owner in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame? Nope, at least not until last night.

The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame inducted its 2018 class last night, and among the greats on the list was one Arthur Blank. Since Blank purchased the Falcons in 2002, they’ve been more successful than they were in any previous epoch of the team history, which is a blend of Blank’s willingness to spend, his increasingly rare desire to win and patience with the staff he hires, and particularly his fateful hire of Thomas Dimitroff to run the team’s front office. Dimitroff hasn’t always been a brilliant executive—the team has had some poor drafts and made some poor decisions during his tenure—but he’s been allowed to build a quality front office, select quality coaches, and operate with a leash most front offices don’t dream of.

Blank has shown himself to be a man not afraid to lob a few grenades toward his franchise when they don’t perform well, but he was also very loyal to Michael Vick and has shown himself to be extremely patient for an NFL owner, as I mentioned above. That quality matters in a league where the worst teams cycle through coaches and general managers at an alarming rate.

Blank also presided over the team’s shiny new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and owns Atlanta United, the wildly successful Major League Soccer franchise, so his importance to sports in Georgia is pretty evident. At a time when owners like Jimmy Haslam are running their teams into the ground, owners like Jerry Richardson are embarrassing the NFL (and more importantly, doing awful things to people around them), and Roger Goodell continues to be a vastly overpaid stooge, having someone like Blank at the helm of the franchise qualifies as legitimately refreshing.

I’m generally loathe to give NFL owners credit for much other than quietly watering down the product and being super rich, but Blank has been one of the league’s better stewards since 2002, and the Falcons look like they’ll again be one of the league’s better teams in 2018. Congratulations on the honor to Arthur Blank.