By Terence Moore | Friday, August 17, 2007, 11:34 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Orchard Park, N.Y. â€” Every step that Arthur Blank took Friday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium, there was an interview waiting to happen. He accepted them all, because he hadnâ€™t a choice. Some things, you just have to do as an image-conscious NFL owner, especially when your $130 million quarterback is accused of hanging and drowning dogs.
Thatâ€™s for starters. Well, if you believe the horrors resulting from Vick placing himself in position to get indicted by the feds for illegal gambling and the Virginia felony that is dogfighting.
But letâ€™s return to Blank, looking strikingly weary while strolling the sidelines before the Falconsâ€™ exhibition game against the Buffalo Bills. Although the answer was as obvious as Vick preparing sooner rather than later to head to the slammer for a long, long time, the question deserved to be asked again to Blank: Can you say whether you want Vick back on your team?
â€œI canâ€™t. Really, that hasnâ€™t changed,â€ said Blank, pausing to reflect on the latest Vick news involving the alleged torturing of animals by a player who regularly came to Blankâ€™s home to play video games with his young sons. â€œObviously todayâ€™s statement of facts from the two of three co-defendants with Michael is very damaging, you know, very troubling, very disturbing to me and the organization. We have yet to see Michaelâ€™s statement of fact, so we donâ€™t know what his position is going to be on that or whatever, but itâ€™s certainly distressing. Very distressing.â€
This is bad.
This is really bad.
This is going to remain exceptionally bad for the Falcons, because Vick was bigger than life as a player. Now, if you believe his former pals who turned stateâ€™s evidence against him, Vick is threatening to become bigger than life as a criminal.
You have the gruesome details of the killing of losing pit bulls at the Virginia property that Vick owns. Then there are the lowlives associated with it all, which is significant, because Vick often boasted that those lowlives were part of his lifetime â€œcrew.â€ If you add that to Vick ranking as the undisputed face of the Falcons during his six seasons, then it doesnâ€™t matter that heâ€™ll likely end the fantasy next week that he hadnâ€™t a clue about any of that criminal stuff by working a plea deal with the feds.
This is so bad that it has turned the Falcons into a dysfunctional mess. Itâ€™s a mess that wonâ€™t correct itself any time soon. Itâ€™s a mess that surfaced early during the first half of their exhibition game against the Buffalo Bills when the starters were still around. The Falcons failed to score on third and fourth downs from the Billsâ€™ 1-yard line after sprinting inside the red zone on the opening drive. There was that terribly underthrown pass by Joey Harrington that went for an interception.
There also was a fumble.
This isnâ€™t to say the Falconsâ€™ other units looked all that better during a lackluster effort. Once, backup quarterback Chris Redman went one way on a play while his teammates went the other. Not only that, the Falcons spent another week as simply boring. They had instant charisma whenever Vick took the field, but now they have no charisma. Thatâ€™s especially true after D.J. Shockley, the peopleâ€™s choice of Bulldog fame, showed some pizazz in relief of Redman in the fourth quarter. Itâ€™s just that he slipped after a nice run, damaged his knee and cringed in agony while leaving for the locker room on a golf cart.
Redman returned later to toss a 1-yard touchdown pass inside the final three minutes to give the visitors a 13-10 victory, but the evening ended mercifully for the Falcons. Through it all, the tiny but vocal crowd kept amusing itself with the periodic chant of, â€œWho let the dogs out? Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.â€
Were any or all of those moments Vick related? Doesnâ€™t matter. Anything less than good that happens to the Falcons this season will be blamed on No. 7.
Thatâ€™s because much of it can be blamed on No. 7.
Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm".
Henry David Thoreau
Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.
"Luck is the residue of design." - Branch Rickey