The Falcons are the best story in ‘08

Mike SmithIf you can’t appreciate the 2008 Atlanta Falcons season, than you probably won’t appreciate most sports stories.

Following a year in which they went 4-12, lost the face of their franchise to federal prison for dog fighting and their head coach to the University of Arkansas in the middle of the night, the Falcons are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 thanks to a 24-17 win over the Vikings on Sunday.

For everyone who said Arthur Blank was too involved as an owner for the Falcons to succeed, how do you feel now? Instead of throwing his hands up in the air and bailing like that gutless wonder Bobby Petrino did, Blank hung tough and got back to work this offseason. He hired general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who then hired Mike Smith, drafted Matt Ryan and signed free agent Michael Turner. Blank didn’t give up on his franchise and now he’s being rewarded for it.

The Falcons were very fortunate Sunday in Minnesota. The Vikings turned the ball over four times and when Atlanta tried to return the favor with a fumble of their own, they recovered it for a touchdown. Yes, Atlanta could have lost very easily. But so what? It’s about time the ball bounced the way of the Falcons and after a year of suffering one blow after another, they deserved what happened this season.

Who knows whether or not this great story will have a fairytale ending? And actually, it doesn’t matter because the Falcons have already won by showing up this season. They have a great young offensive core in Turner, Ryan and Roddy White, an improving defense, a general manager who gets how to build a winner and a solid football coach to keep everything running smoothly. More importantly, they have an owner that is willing to do anything to succeed.

Thanks in large part to Blank, the Falcons are the best story in the NFL this season and somehow, someway, are heading to the playoffs.

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