By: Steve Tichenor
I suppose it‘s hard to feel real bad for Arthur Blank. After all, he’s one of the wealthiest men in America. Clearly, the Home Depot founder has experienced quite a bit of good fortune in his lifetime. And I’m sure he worked hard for it.
If there is such a thing as the people’s billionaire, Blank would have to make the list. He paid for his entire Falcon’s staff to be at the game. He spoke up during Super Bowl media week about the need to address wealth inequality and he’s a member of the Giving Pledge, promising to give away half his fortune for philanthropy. I never met the man but from what I have read he seems to care about a lot more than just his wallet. Which is why I found it somewhat painful to see the image of him on the sideline Sunday night in the midst of his team’s epic collapse. The look on his face was well…blank. A half an hour earlier he was up in his luxury box, on his feet, smiling from ear to ear and shaking hands with anyone nearby. Many wondered why he went down to the sidelines. Why not? It’s his team. He’s not interrupting play. He wanted to celebrate with the coaches and players. His people!
But number 12 on the other side of the field ruined all that. A 28-3 lead well into the third quarter somehow couldn’t be held. If anyone could lead such an improbable comeback it’s Tom Brady. And just like that, the first Super Bowl championship for the organization in their 51 year history collapsed in minutes.
Blank has not experienced the championship drought for that long, he bought the team in 2002. But he’s clearly aware of how bad the city of Atlanta needs a championship. Sure an owner wants to win, but something tells me he wanted this just as much for the coaches, the players and most importantly for the people of Atlanta. And how great would that Super Bowl championship banner have looked hanging in their brand new stadium next season?
But, it wasn’t to be. And as we know in the NFL it’s real tough to get back to the big game. Arthur Blank knows that. You could see it, the look on his face when that nearly impossible comeback was complete said it all.