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Falcons never-ending season began above London

By Mark Bradley | Wednesday, July 16, 2008, 06:20 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

He was an hour outside of London when the bell began to toll. Arthur Blank was flying home from a Kenyan safari on his private plane, scheduled to land in England to refuel, when the pilot left the cockpit, a sheaf of paper in his hand.

You need to see this, the pilot said.

It was a transmitted copy of Michael Vick s federal indictment. The date was July 17, 2007. The football team on which Blank had lavished so much money and care was about to unravel as completely as any football team ever has.

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.

This fire, alas, had a wickedly long tail. Within five months, Blank would find himself without both the quarterback he d supported and befriended some say coddled and the head coach he d hired for the express purpose of maximizing the quarterback s singular skills.

Blank regards 2007 as another reminder that even though you work hard to try to build a roster of players capable of handling the pressures of being a professional athlete both on and off the field, the work carries no guarantee. Of Vick, he says: On the football field, he could cope.

Would Petrino s system and guidance have enabled this quarterback to realize his massive potential? Clearly the answer we felt was, Yes. But whether he would have proved he could play at a very high level a consistent level we ll never know.

Early indications were encouraging. Vick s offseason workouts led to in-house speculation that the Falcons could average 30 points a game, a prognostication that would have left them second to New England in scoring. But Vick never played a down for Petrino, who left under cover of darkness for Arkansas after 13 games.

What if, Blank is asked, Petrino had had Vick at his disposal and the Falcons would have started 4-3 instead of 1-6? Would the grumbling about Petrino s methods have been silenced?

It s possible, but to be frank, the issues Bobby had with the players and communication started from the very beginning. & The players from the get-go felt disconnected. We would have had to win a lot of games for [pacification] to take place.

For the owner, what was the nadir of the season without end? Receiving the indictment? Seeing training camp begin with Vick in court in Richmond, Va., and PETA protestors outside the gates at Flowery Branch? Watching Vick address the media after pleading guilty? Having Petrino bolt the day after Vick was sentenced to 23 months in jail?

It was the day [Aug. 24] we received the document, says Blank, referring to Vick s pre-plea statement of facts. A lot had been speculation up to then. & Even after the indictment, Michael was still saying, I m innocent; you ll find that out. & The reality was that what Michael had been saying was not true. It was difficult when Bobby left, but I didn t have a six-year relationship with him.

About Vick: People say we shouldn t have supported the quarterback that much, but what about New England [with Tom Brady]? What about Indianapolis [with Peyton Manning]? With Michael, as spectacular as he was not always great with that kind of exciting player, he becomes in many ways the face of the franchise.

The former face of the Falcons sits in a Kansas prison. A radically different team new quarterback, new coach, new general manager will open training camp next week. Of his reconfigured club, Blank says, I have tremendous expectations this team will play hard and play well. & There ll be a lot of energy, a lot of discipline. We ll surprise a lot of people.

Already the summer has yielded one bit of cheer. The 2008 Blank family vacation passed without untoward interruption. We went to Italy for 10 days, he says. We didn t get any pieces of paper over there.

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THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" IS STILL GOING ON. THEY(the press) KEEP REMINDING US OF IT AS IF IT WERE OUR FAULT. AS IF WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. I STILL HOLD MY HEAD HIGH. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE LEFT THAT SEASON BEHIND ME. I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW AND BETTER THINGS FOR THE TEAM. BUT THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" LINGERS IN THE SHADOWS OF MY MIND. JUST WHEN I THINK IT'S GONE, JUST WHEN I THINK I'M OUT ...... THEY(the press) PULL ME RIGHT BACK IN!
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REV.2000 (7/17/2008)
THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" IS STILL GOING ON. THEY(the press) KEEP REMINDING US OF IT AS IF IT WERE OUR FAULT. AS IF WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. I STILL HOLD MY HEAD HIGH. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE LEFT THAT SEASON BEHIND ME. I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW AND BETTER THINGS FOR THE TEAM. BUT THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" LINGERS IN THE SHADOWS OF MY MIND. JUST WHEN I THINK IT'S GONE, JUST WHEN I THINK I'M OUT ...... THEY(the press) PULL ME RIGHT BACK IN!

Amen. Every draft evaluator point Matt Ryan as "closing the Vick door". It's hard to read anything about the team that doesn't include Petrino or Vick. I would like to not have to read stuff like this. I know it didn't go as planned for Blank, but do we still have to hear about the same stuff we have heard for 8-12 months? I'd rather talk about this season.

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sporkdevil (7/17/2008)
REV.2000 (7/17/2008)
THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" IS STILL GOING ON. THEY(the press) KEEP REMINDING US OF IT AS IF IT WERE OUR FAULT. AS IF WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. I STILL HOLD MY HEAD HIGH. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE LEFT THAT SEASON BEHIND ME. I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW AND BETTER THINGS FOR THE TEAM. BUT THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" LINGERS IN THE SHADOWS OF MY MIND. JUST WHEN I THINK IT'S GONE, JUST WHEN I THINK I'M OUT ...... THEY(the press) PULL ME RIGHT BACK IN!

Amen. Every draft evaluator point Matt Ryan as "closing the Vick door". It's hard to read anything about the team that doesn't include Petrino or Vick. I would like to not have to read stuff like this. I know it didn't go as planned for Blank, but do we still have to hear about the same stuff we have heard for 8-12 months? I'd rather talk about this season.

WATCH HOW THIS THREAD TAKES ON A LIFE OF IT'S OWN LATER TODAY. IT WILL TURN INTO THE HUGGERS AGAINST THE HATERS. AND EMOTIONS WILL RUN HIGH, EGOS WILL BE BRUISED. THIS WILL LINGER WITH US FOR A WHILE. THE PRESS HAS A LOT OF ARTICLES JUST WAITING TO SPRING THEM ON US. THEY'RE TAKING THEIR TIME BECAUSE THEY WANT TO GET MAXIMUM LENGTH FROM THE WHOLE MESS. WE MUST ENDURE THE UN-ENDUREABLE.

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sporkdevil (7/17/2008)
REV.2000 (7/17/2008)
THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" IS STILL GOING ON. THEY(the press) KEEP REMINDING US OF IT AS IF IT WERE OUR FAULT. AS IF WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. I STILL HOLD MY HEAD HIGH. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE LEFT THAT SEASON BEHIND ME. I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW AND BETTER THINGS FOR THE TEAM. BUT THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" LINGERS IN THE SHADOWS OF MY MIND. JUST WHEN I THINK IT'S GONE, JUST WHEN I THINK I'M OUT ...... THEY(the press) PULL ME RIGHT BACK IN!

Amen. Every draft evaluator point Matt Ryan as "closing the Vick door". It's hard to read anything about the team that doesn't include Petrino or Vick. I would like to not have to read stuff like this. I know it didn't go as planned for Blank, but do we still have to hear about the same stuff we have heard for 8-12 months? Id rather talk about this season.

It's still the off-season, slow NFL news time. So these are things you're going to read until Week1 vs. the Lions. Relax. This stuff will go away soon.

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Jedi-Falcon (7/17/2008)
sporkdevil (7/17/2008)
REV.2000 (7/17/2008)
THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" IS STILL GOING ON. THEY(the press) KEEP REMINDING US OF IT AS IF IT WERE OUR FAULT. AS IF WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. I STILL HOLD MY HEAD HIGH. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE LEFT THAT SEASON BEHIND ME. I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW AND BETTER THINGS FOR THE TEAM. BUT THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" LINGERS IN THE SHADOWS OF MY MIND. JUST WHEN I THINK IT'S GONE, JUST WHEN I THINK I'M OUT ...... THEY(the press) PULL ME RIGHT BACK IN!

Amen. Every draft evaluator point Matt Ryan as "closing the Vick door". It's hard to read anything about the team that doesn't include Petrino or Vick. I would like to not have to read stuff like this. I know it didn't go as planned for Blank, but do we still have to hear about the same stuff we have heard for 8-12 months? Id rather talk about this season.

It's still the off-season, slow NFL news time. So these are things you're going to read until Week1 vs. the Lions. Relax. This stuff will go away soon.

IT'S NOT A BAD ARTICLE. IT WAS A GOOD THREAD BY YOU. WE'RE JUST KIND OF BEAT-DOWN BY THE WHOLE AFFAIR. THERES NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. JUST SUCK IT UP.:)

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There are some interesting quotes in that article

Blank regards 2007 as another reminder that even though you work hard to try to build a roster of players capable of handling the pressures of being a professional athlete both on and off the field, the work carries no guarantee. Of Vick, he says: On the football field, he could cope.

I wish more posters on these boards would get this. Some of the criticisms of Mr. Blank on these forums are ridiculous. He has paid to construct a state of the art training facility form the team, he's tried his best to build a strong front office and he spends big $ every year to acquire talent despite the team being in the bottom 5 in the league in terms of income. As an owner, he couldn't have done much more...

Would Petrino s system and guidance have enabled this quarterback to realize his massive potential? Clearly the answer we felt was, Yes. But whether he would have proved he could play at a very high level a consistent level we ll never know.

That's a very realistic assessement of MV. Unlike the Viik worshipers on this forum who thorught he could do not wrong, Arthur Blank knows that Vick still needed to develop abnd become more consistent.

It s possible, but to be frank, the issues Bobby had with the players and communication started from the very beginning. & The players from the get-go felt disconnected. We would have had to win a lot of games for [pacification] to take place.

That is interesting and makes me wonder about Blank's speech on MNF endorsing coach Petrino just before he walked out. At the time I thought that it was an attmept to put pressure on to Coach Petrino to say, but maybe it was just an attempt to save face and deflect and blame/criticism on to Petrino when he walked out. 

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brendyne (7/17/2008)
I just want the whole bringing up Vick and Petrino in every article to stop.

I'm sure the way these 'writers' come up with their articles is to write down Vick or Petrino and go left and right from there.

it will never stop. even if we win the superbowl, they will never forget about vick. if petrino fails in college, they will write about him also. the ajc has nothing else better to do then to write about the falcons past. i remember when hawaii was playing uga, they did a article on june jones and his days of coaching the falcons. i think we should petition to clean house over at the ajc, and hire some of the posters on this board. we speak a **** of a lot better then most of the employees that work for ajc.....TERRANCE MOORE!!!

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Will someone please call the AJC and tell them :

IT's TIME FOR THEM TO MOVE ON  !!!

Geeze..........how long do they plan on beating this dead horse ???

ENOUGH...............PLEASE !!!!

The Falcon's have done an amazing job re-building the franchise from the ground up.

Why can't the AJC do stories on this ?? Profiles on all the new coaches, players. We would love to know who they are...........their history. What do we get ?? More of the same old tired, pathetic, worn out trash about the felon.

Enough.

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Bring It (7/17/2008)
Will someone please call the AJC and tell them :

IT's TIME FOR THEM TO MOVE ON  !!!

Geeze..........how long do they plan on beating this dead horse ???

ENOUGH...............PLEASE !!!!

The Falcon's have done an amazing job re-building the franchise from the ground up.

Why can't the AJC do stories on this ?? Profiles on all the new coaches, players. We would love to know who they are...........their history. What do we get ?? More of the same old tired, pathetic, worn out trash about the felon.

Enough.

 

070effde-40b7-47b3-ba39-a905.gif

 

Thought you might like this. 

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REV.2000 (7/17/2008)
THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" IS STILL GOING ON. THEY(the press) KEEP REMINDING US OF IT AS IF IT WERE OUR FAULT. AS IF WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. I STILL HOLD MY HEAD HIGH. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE LEFT THAT SEASON BEHIND ME. I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW AND BETTER THINGS FOR THE TEAM. BUT THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" LINGERS IN THE SHADOWS OF MY MIND. JUST WHEN I THINK IT'S GONE, JUST WHEN I THINK I'M OUT ...... THEY(the press) PULL ME RIGHT BACK IN!

IMO it's stupid for us Falcons fans to expect everyone to move on. We have a great bond with this team and because of what we've had to endure in the past year, it's okay for us fans to feel grumpy when they keep discussing the MV/Petrino situation. We are more heavily invested in this team and realize that changes are coming. For most in the Meida, and even those non-Falcons fans, the story of the hour, day, year, decade in Atlanta will be that our starting franchise QB was involved in dog fighting and lied about it. Don't waste your energy anymore protesting how much you hate the Vick topic because you continue to fuel it. Move on in your own mind and don't worry what a few idiots on ESPN are saying. The media is the worst, especially Fox. That's why I have my speculations on his return.

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REV.2000 (7/17/2008)
THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" IS STILL GOING ON. THEY(the press) KEEP REMINDING US OF IT AS IF IT WERE OUR FAULT. AS IF WE DID SOMETHING WRONG. I STILL HOLD MY HEAD HIGH. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU'RE DEALING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE LEFT THAT SEASON BEHIND ME. I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW AND BETTER THINGS FOR THE TEAM. BUT THAT "NEVER ENDING SEASON" LINGERS IN THE SHADOWS OF MY MIND. JUST WHEN I THINK IT'S GONE, JUST WHEN I THINK I'M OUT ...... THEY(the press) PULL ME RIGHT BACK IN!

dont get too excited, foulcons have had bad seasons in the past and theres more ahead of us.just keep doing what your doing hope for the best, expect the worse get bad:w00t:

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theyhateme (7/17/2008)
AJC is always talking about "new face" on the franchise, yet they won't let the "old face" go.  Atlanta's sports coverage concerning The Falcons and Hawks are terrible.  :cool:

maybe its up to the teams to show the new face by putting together some winning seasons. i dont see anything new yet. if they continue to keep having losing seasons , what has changed?the faces have changed but the bs is the same:w00t::w00t::w00t:

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ukfalc (7/17/2008)
There are some interesting quotes in that article

[

Would Petrino s system and guidance have enabled this quarterback to realize his massive potential? Clearly the answer we felt was, Yes. But whether he would have proved he could play at a very high level a consistent level we ll never know.

imo this gives one the impression that coaches were fired because vicks so called potential wasnt at its peak in someones opinion. kinda like vick was pulling the strings:w00t::w00t::w00t:

way to go foulcons

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