Back in May of last year, during an owners’ meeting in Charlotte, Atlanta was awarded the 2019 – end of the 2018 season – Super Bowl. It took four ballots, but all that mattered was the bottom line result.
A gleeful Falcons owner Arthur Blank shot a text to his coach, Dan Quinn, expressing hopes that his team would be playing in that game.
“He texted me back and said, ‘I plan on playing in it sooner,’” Blank retold Thursday.
“I don’t know if I still have that text,” the owner said, “but I’m going to dig and try to find it because he obviously is more of a fore-teller than I was where our team would be sooner than 2019.”
I don’t know if there are really bad times to be a billionaire. But, from a distance, we are catching a glimpse of some of the best of times. Like when you own a NFL team and your coach delivers on a bodacious text and you are going to Houston riding lead in the world’s biggest rodeo.
Blank mentioned that perhaps the only thing in his business life comparable to his Falcons making the Super Bowl was when Home Depot went public. “But even that,” he said, “didn’t have this kind of emotion connected to it.”
He and his counterpart next Sunday – New England owner Bob Kraft – have been friends since a breakfast they shared in New York in December 2001 and Blank was finalizing his purchase of the Falcons. That was when Kraft told him to ignore anyone who told him that owning an NFL team was any different from owning any other business.
“He said that all those values you put in place (at Home Depot), they’ll be equally successful in the National Football League. That has turned out to be exactly correct,” Blank said.
The two spoke Monday after the Super Bowl field was set. As of yet there are no side bets between the two, he said. (What would those in their position put up for a friendly wager, anyway? A solid gold monocle? A Pacific atoll?)
Mostly, Blank said that in talking to Kraft, and later to Pittsburgh’s Art Rooney II, he picked up one piece of advice that might just suit everyone who is along for the ride with the Falcons.
“In both cases they said enjoy the next two weeks,” he said. “Anybody that’s in your bubble who’s not enjoying it, move them outside the bubble. It’s going to get crazy nuts but it’s all going to be very positive and have a great experience.”
Mostly in years past, Blank has not made use of his connections for Super Bowl tickets. He’d maybe go for part of the build-up, but return home for a more intimate Super Bowl party. Going to the game just wasn’t a big draw if your team couldn’t be in it.
He’s planning on hanging around for the game this time.
“This year we’ll do a Super Bowl party in Houston for family and friends – and that includes all of Atlanta,” he said.
Although don’t ask him for tickets.