Falcons-Dolphins: Just a Game For Players, Something More For Blank

Tim AltorkCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2009

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 12:  Owner Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons, celebrates after a 22-20 win over the Chicago Bears at the Georgia Dome on October 12, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

A quick lesson in recent Atlanta Falcons history: In 2007, Bobby Petrino did his best Baltimore Colts impression and snuck off in the middle of the night.

To fill the void in his team (and his heart), Arthur Blank courted Bill Parcells to run his team. As it turns out, the Falcons were nothing more than leverage for Parcells in his negotiations with the team he really wanted to run—the Miami Dolphins.

The Falcons and Dolphins meet on the field today in a winner-take-all grudge match that will determ...oh, who are we kidding?

On the field, what happened with Parcells—or Petrino, for that matter—has absolutely nothing to do with this game.

Most of the players who were scarred by the presence of Petrino have been shipped out to heal elsewhere. The ones who are still with the team probably couldn’t care less whether the man who assembled the team they open the season against is Bill Parcells or a driver for the United Parcel Service.

If it had been a player who had jilted the team in a cowardly and sniveling way, I could see that having some recourse on the field, but for an executive who will sit 300 feet from the field and who most of the players probably have never met? Not a factor.

What they care about is keeping Jason Taylor off of Matt Ryan’s back, tackling Ronnie Brown when he lines up at quarterback, and avoiding Chad Pennington’s right arm as it goes flying off of his fragile body. Because they know if they do all those things, they have a pretty good shot at winning the game.

This game is between two teams that had miraculous seasons a year ago and want to prove that it was no fluke.

The Falcons want to have a winning season for the second year in row for the first time in team history. A win today will put them one step closer to that goal. Nothing more, nothing less.

That’s the on-the-field story.

But what about Blank? No one likes being used as leverage, especially bigwigs who own NFL football teams. They want to be the one that someone else is being used as leverage for.

So while the players won’t get any extra satisfaction out of beating the Dolphins, something tells me that for Blank, there will be a slight hint of gratification at knowing that the Dirty Birds used Parcells’ Dolphins as leverage on their way to win No. 1 in 2009.

Tim’s pick: Falcons 34, Dolphins 30


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