Blank Gets A Pass, Petrino Gets…..

By LaToya Hardaway
Updated: December 18, 2007

Petrino and Blank holding court at press conference shortly before Vick's legal issues

Petrino and Blank holding court at press conference shortly before Vick's legal issues

DALLAS — Sports/shock columnist Jason Whitlock never lets me down, and like on most occasions, I disagree with some of his recent comments in his recent piece.

He implied it was Michael Vick who set the roof on fire at the Georgia Dome and let that mutha burn, and everything that’s set the Atlanta Falcons back 10 years since April is his doing. So, for that, considering and considering the ramifications, you say owner Arthur Blank should be the hero?

Oh, and Bobby Petrino should get a pass, despite the fact that in his inaugural season as NFL coach he deserted his team with three games remaining only to return from whence he came-college?

I’ll admit Blank deserves a bit of a break. But, not before I say he needs to point the finger at himself for putting so much trust into one man-Vick- to the tune of $130 million without investing in a contingency plan that included drafting more talented players.

Blank, an adequate offensive line and more playmaking receivers would’ve put a band-aid on your boo-boo. Regarding the Falcons’ coach, formerly known as Petrino: did Blank and company really check his history?

Year

Place (coached)

Role

1983

Carroll

Grad. asst.

1984

Weber St.

Grad. asst.

1985-86

Carroll

Off. coord./QB/WR

1987-88

Weber St.

WR/TE coach

1989

Idaho

QB coach

1990-91

Idaho

Off. coord./QB

1992-93

Arizona St.

QB coach

1994

Nevada

Off. coord./QB

1995-97

Utah St.

Off. coord./QB

1998

Louisville

Off. coord./QB

1999-2000

Jacksonville (NFL)

QB coach

2001

Jacksonville (NFL)

Off. coord.

2002

Auburn

Off. coord./QB

2003-2006

Louisville

Head coach

2007

Atlanta (NFL)

Head coach

2007

Arkansas

Head coach

Probably not, huh? Looking at all the above, there were enough red flags to reach out and touch someone.Considering the crises, from Vick’s mess and now his head coach flying the coupe, Blank deserves some of our sympathies.

Shoot, I’ll even give him a hall pass this time for his comments during the Saints-Falcons game on Monday Night Football, hours after Vick’s sentencing. Blank said he won’t slam the door on a Vick citing on the team once he’s a free man and he can demonstrate he’s in healthy football shape, but “if he doesn’t watch himself and eat a lot of fried chicken and fries in prison and he comes out 215 pounds, then he’s not going to be the same athlete he was.”

Some folks wanted to slap him. Probably had their fingers on the speed dial to the main line connecting them to the local NAACP chapter.

Blank’s post-traumatic stress levels are probably at an all time high. And, besides, I see no racist implications in his statement. Now if Blank verbally illustrated a correlation between Vick and a jar of pickled pig feet or plate of chitlins, collard greens, and watermelon with a glass of red soda…

Then Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have my blessings if they decide not to mind their business!

As a native Texan, I know us Southern folks-Black and White (not yellow or green, because it doesn’t apply with live humans!)- eat fried chicken. I, too, am committed to it.

Furthermore, let me remind you that prisons do serve fried chicken, and living in a state where the death penalty is as common as casinos in Las Vegas grocery stores, I know it’s arguably the most requested last meal among dead men walking.

And it certainly puts the pounds on you.

And Blank, who knows? He probably goes on chicken binges himself. So hero, I think not. A pass is granted. But no pass no play for Petrino, and I assume many, including most Falcon players, love nothing more than to give him the bird. Vick is what attracted him to the Falcons in the first place.

Granted, Petrino didn’t have a crystal ball, so he didn’t foresee Vick’s transgressions and his plans for fame that would piggyback off Vick’s talents ruined. And no, Petrino didn’t harm animals, but Whitlock and others in his amen corner should be examined if they believe he isn’t as much (or more) of a liar as Vick is labeled-who’s mainly at fault for being too loyal to his homies and making dumb decisions that he didn’t think would catch up to him.

Petrino was also stupid is his decision making but disloyal to Blank, the team, and the Falcon fans. A ‘coward’ as the players called him. I don’t blame them. After all, Petrino’s explanation to them of his abrupt departure was via a typed letter that wasn’t even close to a five paragraph essay.

Petrino was rumored to be courting Arkansas. Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones ( Arkansas alum/booster) even confirmed to Blank, via phone, they wanted to talk to Petrino. To the owner’s dismay, Blank asked Petrino if he’d be around to ride out the storm.

“You have a coach,” Petrino said. Maybe that was the clue Blank didn’t pick up on. Petrino didn’t specify how long he’d stay. I guess a 3-10 record with no Vick ain’t cutting the mustard.

So saying Petrino’s departure, too, is all on Vick is foolishness. He never ‘quit’ or ‘resigned’ and wanted to continue to play, but asked not to return. Understandably so.

I’m sure Vick watched his team unfold from his home and jail cell. It was doomed without his presence. But I doubt Vick consulted Petrino on an exit strategy to get the heck out of dodge under such unique situations.

Petrino quit voluntarily. He was a smoking gun and like a thief in the night, he robbed an entire organization of trust when he threw up the two finger deuce and boarded the plane to chop it up pig “suey” style past 10 at night to announce his new gig.

Those student-athletes at the University of Arkansas should proceed with caution. Current and potential Razorbacks don’t deserve to stare at the question mark that’ll follow Petrino around the gridiron grounds in Fayetteville. Will he stay or will he go?

So for that, he doesn’t deserve a pass. Not from me.

Petrino’s a vagabond. A mover and a shaker coach like him, who’d pull an about face, should serve as a plate of caution to parents whose sons are bound for life as college student-athletes.

Don’t just settle on a university with a big television contract that’ll increase his chances of playing football on Sundays; also seek a coach/leader/mentor with stability, who has a track record of surviving and helping the players through unique situations.

And unique ain’t always good. Ask Blank. So sticking around through the tough times (i.e. losing seasons, adversity) isn’t likely in Petrino’s forte.

Before this disaster in his lone NFL stint, Petrino was a great coach at Louisville, with a 41-9 record in four seasons. But again, look at his history of jumping ship, probably for more money and fame, often at the expense of others and without a second thought.

Let him have a seat on your couch, promise you and your son he’s in good hands, but not really certain if his firm handshake at the conclusion of his speech is the most honest?

Hmm. I wouldn’t let him sit on my couch.

Not even if the plastic was still on it!