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Falcons have come a long way since disaster of 2007

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When Arthur Blank bought the Falcons in 2002, it was just a matter of time before Mike Vick’s dog-fighting lifestyle came to light. It did, and 2007 became one of the worst years any NFL franchise has ever endured.

The depths Blank’s team experienced a decade ago make the current state of the team even more impressive, and surely gratifying.

The year began with the abrupt termination of coach Jim Mora, who had been reasonably successful but who had foolishly mused about leaving the NFL in an instant if he had a chance to coach the University of Washington. Then came the April discovery of a dog-fighting operation at Vick’s rural property in Virginia, which sparked a multi-week media rollercoaster that resulted in Vick facing federal charges, going to prison, and never playing for the Falcons again.

It got worse, if that was even possible. Coach Bobby Petrino bolted without warning late in the season, leaving the team without a franchise quarterback, without a coach, without a direction, and without much hope.

Things changed quickly, with Blank hiring G.M. Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith — and drafting franchise quarterback Matt Ryan. A team that never had consecutive winning seasons would have five in a row, and an NFC championship appearance to cap the 2012 season.

The next dip for the franchise came during that game. Up 17-0 over the 49ers, the Falcons fell apart, lost, and then missed the playoffs each of the next two seasons. Blank then decided to make a change at head coach. He  hired Dan Quinn away from the Seahawks and, less than two years later, the Falcons are back in the Super Bowl, for the first time in a generation.

“My goal initially [as owner] was to have a sustainable winning organization, one that would be important in the NFL conversation every year,” Blank said Thursday during a meeting with the media, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “In my opinion, I think we have reached that level this year.

“We have an opportunity now to play in the final game of the year and hopefully get the positive outcome we’re looking for. But the bigger goal is that I think we’ll . . . be back in this room having this conversation a number of times in the years to come.”

In 2007, it seemed unthinkable that Blank’s reeling franchise would ever emerge from the morass. The climb started almost immediately, and it now culminates in a shot at the first NFL championship for the Falcons.

A win in nine days would set the stage for an ideal opening of the team’s state-of-the-art new stadium. As the Super Bowl winners, the Falcons would have christen the venue on the first Thursday of the season, hanging a brand-new banner in the brand-new rafters and continuing to build on the kind of success that would have been unthinkable 10 years earlier.

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22 Responses to “Falcons have come a long way since disaster of 2007”
  1. daysend564 says: Jan 27, 2017 12:35 PM

    Blah blah blah…beat the Patriots

  2. weepingjebus says: Jan 27, 2017 12:38 PM

    Get your team some letterman jackets, they’ve earned it.

  3. winningisabrees says: Jan 27, 2017 12:39 PM

    Cant match Saints run from 06-09 and winning the SB and turning that city around. Period

  4. winningisabrees says: Jan 27, 2017 12:41 PM

    Dang Florio, get a room yo

  5. MongoRawBlow says: Jan 27, 2017 12:44 PM

    Jesus, the late 98/99 was a generation ago…

  6. joetoronto says: Jan 27, 2017 12:46 PM

    Mr Blank is a great man and deserves whatever he has, what Vick put him through was shameful.

  7. tootitan says: Jan 27, 2017 12:50 PM

    A brand new, multi-billion dollar stadium, and it will have exposed rafters? Say it ain’t so!

  8. atlatlatl says: Jan 27, 2017 12:55 PM

    Rise Up Atlanta!

  9. duffelbagsports says: Jan 27, 2017 1:01 PM

    See you in Foxborough opening night

  10. dvdman123 says: Jan 27, 2017 1:09 PM

    Falcons had better teams under Mike Smith.

  11. jason9696 says: Jan 27, 2017 1:27 PM

    duffelbagsports says:
    Jan 27, 2017 1:01 PM
    See you in Foxborough opening night


    That would be so sweet if the Falcons pulled off the upset. 🙂

  12. fareandbalanced says: Jan 27, 2017 1:35 PM

    Patriots favored by 3. Not much of an upset.

  13. grendelg says: Jan 27, 2017 2:02 PM

    Mr Blank has been a great owner for the Falcons. Under the Smiths there was no commitment to building a winning franchise. They were just interested in milking the franchise for money and didn’t care if they won or not.

    I hope we bring home the Lombardi for all of the long suffering Atlanta fans, but Mr Blank is the one who deserves it most of all for all he’s done for us.

  14. shadywarrior says: Jan 27, 2017 2:27 PM

    I’m pretty sure Arthur Blank isn’t a native of Atlanta or even the South, but this dude looks like he’s straight out of Gone With The Wind.

  15. winningisabrees says: Jan 27, 2017 2:44 PM

    the word of the day today kids is UNTHINKABLE

  16. jimmyjohns01 says: Jan 27, 2017 3:01 PM

    Well it HAS been 10 years and they didn’t fall that far down. Besides Mike Smith’s last 2 years the Falcons were a competitive team each year with a decent record. It’s not like they had sub .500 record for almost 10 years like the Browns.

  17. hukdeep says: Jan 27, 2017 3:04 PM

    winningisabrees says:
    Jan 27, 2017 12:39 PM
    Cant match Saints run from 06-09 and winning the SB and turning that city around. Period


  18. patsfan4lifesbchamps says: Jan 27, 2017 3:55 PM

    Arthur Blank is a good man.

  19. maust1013 says: Jan 27, 2017 4:06 PM

    The 2016 Falcons have had an impressive run and are playing their best football at the right time. 10 years is practically an eon in the NFL of the salary cap era. Including something about the players on the current roster that have been there for that climb (or most of it) would have been more interesting than pumping Blank’s tires. After all it is hardly unusual for an owner to be in place for a decade. Seeing more about the ride Babineaux, Ryan, Levitre and Bryant have been on there would be far more compelling.

  20. marmac2768 says: Jan 27, 2017 4:32 PM

    I am a Tampa Buc fan, but I am very happy for the Falcons. After what Vick and Petrino did to this club, I am hoping that they will have a great victory over the Pats in a few days. It should be a fun game to watch.

  21. porklift says: Jan 27, 2017 5:12 PM

    If there is a God, the Falcons will win this.

  22. happy1114 says: Jan 27, 2017 5:45 PM

    If AB would have learned not to meddle so much when he bought the team and not fired Dan Reeves he would not have had to wait 17 years to get back to the Super Bowl…..

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