Arthur Blank

This is one of a few posts from my old blog that I’m re-posting to ASF. This particular post was written May 14, 2006–

The recent news that Arthur Blank and Turner Broadcasting have broken off negotiations for Blank to buy the Atlanta Braves is great news, in my opinion. That may sound like blasphemy to some, especially those who seem to think that he has single-handedly rebuilt the Falcons into a winning franchise. Let’s review the facts, morons:

Blank bought the franchise in December of 2001, and the on-field team immediately found success the following year, making the playoffs and defeating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. They also experienced success in their bank account, selling out almost all of their home games. In 2004 they also reached the playoffs, and fell just one game short of the Super Bowl. Most would look at the timeline and the success of the franchise, and correlate that to Blank’s arrival. However, a closer look would tell a different story.

If you bought the Falcons in late 2001, and saw that the team had been suffering from poor attendance for years, what would you do? Maybe lower ticket prices? YES!! Maybe re-evaluate your marketing strategy? YES!! It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? But yet people like to think of Blank as this revolutionary businessman who came in and reinvigorated an entire fanbase on his own. Here’s the biggest factor of all…The guys you bought the team from drafted MICHAEL VICK, easily the biggest single attendance draw in years. If you look at these facts, it’s easy to see that Blank just came to the right place at the right time.

Let’s look at the negatives: Blank has now increased ticket prices so much so that they’re now among the highest in the NFL. His team is over the cap (even with the recent move they made, adjusting Vick’s bonus to create cap room) and will have to cut GOOD players–like Brady Smith, who Keith Brooking described last week as “the vital cog” in their defense, and lamented how much better they would’ve been last year if Smith didn’t suffer from injuries.

Some would say that the cap situation is GM Rich McKay’s fault, and not Blank’s. However, Blank likes to meddle with and take credit for high-profile transactions and, as a result, deserves blame when they turn out badly…like when he overpaid for the following players:

Keith Brooking: 7 Years, $41 million, $10.5 million signing bonus
Peerless Price: 7 Years, $42 million, $10 million signing bonus (plus the first round draft pick they gave up to get him from the Buffalo Bills)
Michael Vick: 25 Years, $570 million, ¾ of Cobb County

These numbers are ridiculous. Vick is the most talented out of this bunch by far, but is way too inconsistent to give that much money to. Brooking is the best (consistently), and a perennial Pro Bowler–but still isn’t worth that kind of money–from all media accounts, the Falcons outbid themselves on this one. Peerless was cut last year, the Falcons got nothing for him, AND they took a $6 million cap hit.

So, with all of this factual evidence, why is it that fans worship Arthur Blank? Are people that crazy for an individual owner, as opposed to a corporation? Do they like the romanticized stories about him wining and dining potential signees (like Keith Brooking and the infamous spaghetti dinner at the Blank home)? Did they like when he took out a full-page ad apologizing to ABC and Falcons fans when they stunk it up in an ’03 Monday Night Football game, and when the media mocked him mercilessly for it? If he were to run out onto the field and take a shit on the 50-yard line, pick it up, and throw it at the Pope, would the fans still applaud?

I don’t get it. If you think you know why he is immune to criticism, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll still cheer for the Falcons and the Braves, but give thanks that they’re not owned by the same man.

–ASF

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