Here’s some pretty good relationship advice: when somebody threatens to walk, don’t allow yourself to be manipulated. The appropriate response is, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
I think that applies to professional football teams as well as to significant others.
In the latest twist in the ongoing Falcons stadium drama, owner Arthur Blank has let it be known that “business interests” from Los Angeles have approached him about moving the team to the Left Coast. Either that or they want him to play the title role in the upcoming “Godfather, Part XVII.” I’m still not clear which.
Before I go any further, let me to point out that I’ve been a Falcons fan since the 1970s. I remember going to games with my dad and cheering for Steve Bartkowski as he played on a converted baseball diamond at old Altanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Of course, I don’t get to many games these days, because I’m just an ordinary working stiff, and ordinary working stiffs rarely go to NFL games anymore. But I have been able to take my sons a couple of times. Hey, just 16 more installments and I’ll have those tickets paid off.
To me, then, as to many native Georgians, Arthur Blank is not synonymous with the Falcons. He’s merely the current custodian of what is, in truth, an Atlanta institution. Sure, he’s been a pretty good custodian. I think we’re all pleased to see the franchise doing so well lately, especially those of us who endured years of aspiring to mediocrity.
But Blank is just an owner. And as we all learned when Ted Turner sold the Braves, an owner is not the franchise, any more than one player or one coach is the franchise.
None of this is to say that I begrudge the Falcons a new mega-stadium, the inside of which I will probably never see, as ticket prices will undoubtedly rise beyond my own personal debt ceiling. (What do you think I am, the federal government?)
I just don’t appreciate the way Falcons brass have gone about politicking for the proposed venue, with all the arm-twisting, veiled threats, and repeated insinuations that the taxpaying residents of metro Atlanta are somehow obligated to help fund a billion-dollar football mecca.
This latest tactic, though, represents a new low — putting out the word that, if they don’t get their new stadium, the Falcons might just take their toys and move the whole shebang to La-La Land, like some gridiron version of the Beverly Hillbillies.
Well, that would be a shame. I for one would be sad to see them go, for at least as long as it took me to find the Broncos or the Redskins or the Seahawks on TV. But hey, Dirty Birds, if you have to go, go. Just don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and the author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility.” E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @rjenkinsgdp, and visit www.familymanthebook.com.