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May 28, 2008

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MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
PO Box 908
33 Lee Street
Jefferson, Georgia 30549


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® Copyright 2007
Newspapers, Inc.
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By Chris Bridges

Falcons undergo some necessary retooling, cleaning
Ownership and management of the Atlanta Falcons have had to pull some unusual duty in recent months.
The overall image of the franchise, which dates back to the 1960s, has received a rather ugly tarnishing. Like a hideous coat of paint which screams out at you after it has been applied, the entire name brand that is the Atlanta Falcons has had many fingers pointed at it for months now.
Much has contributed to the current state of affairs, primarily being the entire Michael Vick fiasco. Vick, who now sits in a jail cell (where he belongs), figuratively stabbed owner Arthur Blank in the back as well as the entire fan base of the city’s NFL team. Some might make the case Blank put too much stock into Vick and I certainly won’t argue with that.
However, haven’t we all been burned at one time or another by putting too much faith in someone? Granted, for most of us it wasn’t an employee we paid millions of dollars to but I imagine most of us have been burned — and burned badly — by a friend or even a family member at one time or another. It’s human nature to have faith in someone we trust and unfortunately it’s also human nature for that person to sometimes betray us.
The Falcons then also had to deal with former coach Bobby Petrino sneaking out the back door — literally – after only 13 games of the 2007 season. Petrino quickly learned, I think, that the pro game was not for him. Pro athletes often override the coach and while Petrino did have some limited NFL coaching experience, he seemed overwhelmed when he arrived in Atlanta.
That brings us to the present as the Falcons, with a new head coach and new general manager on board, decided to draft Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan in this spring’s draft. Ryan was the third overall pick and is being groomed by Atlanta coaches as the QB of the future. This pick also puts to rest the ridiculous notion that maybe, just maybe, the Falcons would bring back Vick after his jail time is over. Give me a break on that one.
Ryan seemingly has the squeaky clean image the Falcons need right now. He has already signed a contract so we don’t have to worry about any preseason holdouts with him. Yes, I believe the powers-that-be who are running the Falcons are making every possible effort to get rid of the stench that had moved into the locker room from the Vick and Petrino eras, although they left aromas for different reasons. Yes, the offseason has been a time of some good, old fashioned cleaning for the Falcon higher ups. A little elbow grease, a little Mr. Clean and some sweat on the forehead was just what was needed. Hopefully, when the 2008 season arrives, Falcon fans can begin to forget the past.


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