It's January 4th, 1981 and the Atlanta Falcons are hosting their first postseason game in the National Football League. Sitting there on the bottom section of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium at the 50-yard line is Arthur Blank and some of his best friends cheering the team on.
That loss was one of the worst in Falcons history as it was the first playoff game the Falcons had hosted and even though the team was still in its losing days, Blank has supported the team for as long as they have been around.
Before the Falcons were purchased by Blank prior to the 2002 season, they had a record of 212-327-5 (0.394 win percentage) and only had been to the playoffs six times with only seven years of winning records in 36 years of history.
Blank is a fan first and the only thing he cares about is the ability for his team to win games. One of the first things he did was lower ticket prices in 2002 because of the idea behind home-field advantage.
With lower ticket prices and a full stadium, Blank wanted the Falcons to have a better home-field advantage and have won 63 percent of their home games since he has owned the Falcons. The Falcons should continue to have that advantage with a waiting list for season tickets and events every week to try and get the fans riled up even more.
Blank decided to run the team using the idea that football people need to make football decisions. He has since brought in the concept of a general manager when Dan Reeves had made the mistakes in player personnel of 2002-03: not a single draft pick or acquisition those years was with the team five years later.
They brought in Rich McKay in 2004 and the team has since had a true general manager in either McKay or more recently Thomas Dimitroff. Blank also has attempted to find the right balance for a coach. Blank had never liked Reeves and tried to make that split as amicable as possible.
He went with Jim Mora Jr. and that didn't work out because Mora was too much of a players' coach. So he tried Bobby Petrino, but he didn't work because Petrino was unprofessional and was too much of a dictator. Then Blank decided to get someone who could play both roles.
Mike Smith and Dimitroff are the results of putting the proper football people in the proper football jobs. They are also the result of a fan only wanting what is best for his team by putting the right people in place to win games.
The results have been amazing since Blank has purchased the team. The Falcons have earned a 87-72-1 record since 2002 for a win percentage of 0.547. Blank has also had six teams with winning records and five teams that made the playoffs.
The best owners will do what Blank does, as it is the same kind of approach as Robert Craft and the Mara and Rooney families. They will take this hands-on approach with the players, but will leave the football decisions to football people. They will also allow their team to go to the cap every year.