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You look at the Hawks, if you look at our payroll vs. the Falcons—I don’t want to crap on the Falcons in the paper but everybody acts like Falcons do whatever it takes to win—their payroll the last three, four years as been in the lower third in the league. They were 25th in 08-09, 26th in 09-10, 26th in 2010-11.
Now let’s contrast that with us. 2010-11 we were ninth; 2009-10 we were 21st. This year we will probably be fifth. What I struggle with is when the facts don’t support the [negative] view. . . . You and I, we need the Hawks to have the same energy and perception in the public the Falcons do in order to have more bloggers, more viewers.
I look at the Falcons, they’ve got 1,500 people [commenting on AJC blogs]. The image of that team has been shaped as, they will do whatever it takes to be successful.
Now contrast their success to ours. The last playoff game they won was in’04. That’s just a fact. Michael Vick was still on the team then. We’ve won in the playoffs three years in a row. I hope the Falcons make the playoffs this year and I hope they win the Super Bowl because I’m in Atlantan and I’m a huge fan of every team here.
They’ve never made the playoffs three years in a row. You would think every decision they make is just a bright decision based on how it’s portrayed. We get criticized because the bar is the tax instead of the cap. I don’t think our fans understand, we do spend money and we are one of the highest payrolls.
Well, regardless of if crapping on the Falcons in the paper was your goal, you did just that, Gearon. What do the Falcons have to do with the Hawks' success? Nothing. If you're an NBA owner that has most of the fanbase annoyed with you, why on earth would you trash talk the city's most beloved team?
For starters, this is the south, and there is a hierarchy to sports below the Mason-Dixon line. Football comes first in most Southern communities, so before you whine about the level of love the Falcons receive, it's important to understand the culture of the entire section of the country you live in.
Also, while the Falcons haven't won a playoff game since 2004, they've made it just as far as the Hawks did last season: the second round. The Falcons had a 13-3 record and were the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC with an incredible young nucleus of pieces that fit together. What isn't optimistic sounding about that?
The Hawks have a group of players whose realistic ceiling is the second round, and the team is assembled of pieces that don't entirely fit together. What is optimistic sounding about that?
In the NFL, it's single elimination. There are no seven-game series, and when you catch the hottest team in the league in a best of one matchup, it isn't going to be easy to stop them. The Falcons lost to the Green Bay Packers, but they experienced just as much success as the Hawks last year, if not more.
Furthermore, Gearon, you say the Falcons don't spend as much as the Hawks. That's basically conceding to the fact that the Falcons know how to better manage their assets. They have formed a winning team with arguably the brightest future in the NFL by spending almost half of the money you've spent. They do what you do, but they do it better.
People love Arthur Blank and the Falcons entire management because if they see a hole in the team, they fill it up as quickly as possible. People don't love you and the rest of the Hawks management because we've had the same holes for the last four years and they haven't been addressed. Thomas Dmitrioff and Arthur Blank would never leave their team out to dry like this.