Blank Asks Fans Not to Give Up
The owner of the Atlanta Falcons issued a published apology to fans Tuesday for the team's dismal season so far.
Arthur Blank took out a full-page ad in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's sports pages, that said, in part, that the team is not giving up on hopes for a better season.
The ad follows the team's 45-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on Sunday -- the sixth straight setback after an opening week win against Dallas.
As for the team's future, quarterback Mike Vick is still injured, two starting linebackers are out for the season, and linebacker Keith Brooking will miss somewhere between two and six weeks with a back injury.
The following is the text of the apology by Blank:
Dear Falcons Fans:
A 1-6 record so far is not what any of us anticipated at the beginning of the season. We understand the frustration you feel. In fact, everyone at the Falcons organization shares it. We are disappointed ? even angry. We know our team is capable of playing better.
Our coaches, our players, our staff, and I collectively share the responsibility for the outcome of this season. We're not giving up. Our goal is the same as yours: to win football games. We have nine more games in this season, and our commitment to you is to work as hard as we possibly can to win every one of them.
I want you to know that I am just as committed to taking this franchise to the heights of NFL success as I have been from the very start. Not just this season, but every season. If anything, I am more committed and determined than ever.
For the last year and a half, you have rallied around the New Atlanta Falcons in a way that exceeded our expectations. Our organization and team need your continued support, and we will do everything we can to maintain it. We need you, our 12th man.
Thank you for being a part of our team. Let's continue to rally together.
Arthur M. Blank
?[The letter] struck me as a good CEO taking the initiative on an issue, instead of allowing the press to take the initiative,? said Christopher Lemley, a professor of corporate marketing at Georgia State University.
He added: "The press is still going to cover it. Either your voice is going to be heard, or it's not going to be heard. If, as a CEO, I get out in front of the issue, start expressing our point of view, our voice on the issue, then all of a sudden it, at least, gets an equal ranking with all the other voices."
Lemley says Blank's letter makes every point he needs to make to try to keep the fans behind him.
"He is saying, I'm in this for the long haul....He's not ducking any responsibility in this, either for himself or for the Falcons organization," the professor said.
Falcons wide receiver Jimmy Farris said Blank?s letter helped motivate players.
?I think it was a great gesture,? he said. ?It was a great sentiment by him just to say, stick with us, we're doing everything we can, we're going to turn this around.?
Some fans who spoke to 11Alive News said they to believe Blank.
?I think it helps to know, you know, he?s just as frustrated as everybody else,? said John Hale.
Scottie Harvey added, ?[The letter] says a lot about his character, as a man.?