Podcast: Blank on future, Vick and his plans to fire Petrino anyway


Arthur Blank, seen here reading a newspaper while floating on the Dead Sea on a print in his office. was revealing on a number of topics in a recent interview.

There is no Atlanta sports figure happier today than Falcons owner Arthur Blank. His team has four straight, including Sunday’s impressive 23-16 win over the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, and sits at 4-1 despite an early part of the schedule that many expected would crush the team.

Blank recently gave me and WSB’s Zach Klein a revealing interview for the two episodes of the “We Never Played The Game” Podcast. The first episode, during which Blank discussed his wealth and his early struggles at Home Depot, can be downloaded here on iTunes.

But the best stuff in my view comes in part II, which is now posted HERE or listen to it here:

Blank discusses his future as owner and whether he one day plans to sell the team or hand it down to his kids; the highs and lows of the Michael Vick era; how Vick’s incarceration affected him personally; and the exit of former coach Bobby Petrino.

Thanks to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Mike Luckovich who did this as a favor and for no compensation. I owe him a latte.

I tried to get Mike Luckovich to draw more hair on me but he declined.

It was during our discussion about Petrino when Blank revealed for the first time that he likely was going to fire Petrino anyway — or Petrino was going to resign voluntarily — after the 2007 season. The comments are significant because while it doesn’t excuse Petrino for lying to Blank about his plans to walk out on the Falcons with three games remaining in the season for the Arkansas job, it certainly suggests the Falcons should not have been completely blindsided.

Yes, Blank was lied to by Petrino’s. But he also made it clear that a change was likely coming after that 3-13 season.

These comments begin with Blank recounting how Petrino gave him assuranaces the day of a Monday night football game that he was remain in the job through the season, despite rumors he might leave for a college job. Blank had requested a meeting with Petrino at the Arthur M. Blank Family office the day of the game because he anticipated he was going to be asked about the coach during a television interview that night.

An excerpt from the “We Never Played The Game” podcast:

“The way he did it was unfortunate. That was sad. Because we had a meeting here in this office. It was Monday night football and there was a lot of speculation. I told him I’m going to be interviewed that night by ESPN, and I’m it’s going to be one of the questions. We had already kind of agreed that after the season was over he was going to move on. He was more suited to the college program than the NFL program. … But part of our discussion here, was, ‘Look, if you decide you’re going to leave, I’ll handle it a certain way with ESPN. If not, I’ll handle it differently. I remember him standing up and putting out his hand and saying, “You have a coach.” I said fine. And that night I was sitting in bed and I watched him do that ‘Pig Sooey’ thing from the University of Arkansas.

So while Blank planned to move on from Petrino after the season, he had assurances Petrino would finish the season out.

More from Blank: “It was just obviously wrong. If he had just been transparent up front. I clearly saw his relationship with the players wasn’t what it needed to be. Their relationship with him wasn’t what it needed to be. It wasn’t going to work out. So you finish out the season in a way that represents honor and integrity.”

Of course, that didn’t happen.

Why did Blank hire Petrino in the first place? That’s also in Arthur Blank: Part II.

Blank was raw and honest on many subjects. You can listen to the whole thing here. Subscribe to the “We Never Played The Game” podcast — it’s free! — and hear new episodes every Monday and Thursday.

Some recent ramblings

Reader Comments 0


Holy hell. You're almost as bad as Ledbetter. Does anyone at AJC proof their copy before posting? 


No Petrino fan, but this man has one thing to make a living off of and that is football. 

Why should he accommodate Blanks who is going to fire him at season's end after the SEC job is filled and he has that firing on his resume, less bargaining power? 

 I get tired of these billionaires telling the press something is sad, that over embellished reaction, and for who was it sad if the results are the same as they would have been in the first place?  

It may have made Blanks look a little foolish but Petrino had a job the next few years showing he could coach in the SEC, and my guess is he will be at LSU next year because of it.  

I had heard it was a religious thing, Blanks was trying to write Petrino's prayers in the locker room, to the team that didn't want to hear them any way.  


So you ditched "Overreaction Monday" for this annoying slop?


So Blank had made the decision to fire Petrino before Bobby ultimately deserted his Birds for greener pastures?  And in the name of honor and integrity?  

Mister Blank is surrounded by so many yes men, he might as well change his name to Elvis and re-christen the Blank Foundation Graceland.

During his weekly preseason State of theTeam addresses from the broadcast booth, he drones on and on about all things Arthur while the poor play-by-play team tries to call the game.  

Even after the honor-our-military-because-they're-paying-me-in- consideration embarrassment was exposed, he still had the nerve to brag about being awarded some honorific bestowed upon him by the Georgia National Guard.  

Mister Blank is legacy building.  When his time comes (I hope he has many happy and healthy years left in this world) his sarcophagus will reside in a crypt of honor somewhere in the new stadium.  All his pronouncements will adorn the walls.  


@CardiganBoy: ". . . he drones on and on about all things Arthur while the poor play-by-play team tries to call the game."


"Poor" play-by-play team is right!

Thankfully, we have to endure them only during preseason--unlike the Hawks' and Braves' bootlicking shills.


Why are you dragging up dirty laundry Jeff. Look, Clemson has cut that idiot out of the National Championship run. Petrino is a gutless egomaniac that couldn't win in the NFL even with a team that had great talent. (Look at the following year with Mike "Duh-Duh" Smith).