BOSTON (CBS) -- If Robert Kraft's plan is to take down commissioner Roger Goodell, he's going to need the help of his fellow owners. We already knew that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones showed no intention of stepping into that ring, and we can now add Falcons owner Arthur Blank to the list.
You may remember Blank from such hits as Defending Michael Vick and Pumping In Fake Crowd Noise, so he's a man with some experience in dealing with NFL controversies.
And when it comes to "DeflateGate," he made it very clear in an Associated Press interview that he's siding with the commish over Kraft.
"That seems to be the general feeling, that some of the frustration whether on an individual basis or organizational basis, was the failure to acknowledge," Blank said of the Patriots, who were accused by Ted Wells' investigation team of failing to cooperate.
That's a point which the Patriots dispute with great vigor, but Blank finds himself accepting of the Wells report's conclusions. Despite the Patriots' protests (some more fair than others), Blank is saying quite clearly that the Patriots have failed to acknowledge events that most certainly occurred.
A three-month investigation that cost the NFL millions of dollars couldn't even conclude that to be true.
Blank admitted that he has no direct knowledge of the specifics of the case, but he seemingly does know that they're guilty of all charges and should have succumbed to every demand of the very questionable investigative team.
Blank also knows a bunch of buzzwords about how honorable the NFL continues to be, and he let them fly in an avalanche of righteousness. (The bolding in the following quote comes from me.)
"The league feels a tremendous sense of responsibility, as do all the owners, in reinforcing the culture of the NFL, the shield and make sure the game remains as balanced and as pure and as true to its integrity and its ethics as can be done," Blank said. "When they find any organization or any individual has gotten off those tracks, it's their job to remind them of that and bring them back on the tracks and do it in a way that really reinforces what the league is about. I think in the case of New England they have done that."
Blank feels uniquely qualified to share his thoughts on such matters, after his team was fined $350,000 and stripped of a fifth-round draft pick after being found guilty of pumping crowd noise into their stadium during games over the past two seasons in an effort to disrupt opponents' communications. (It hasn't helped; the Falcons went 6-10 at home over the past two seasons.) Team president Rich McKay also was issued a whopper of a punishment, as he was suspended for a minimum of ... three months from his role on the competition committee. And the Falcons also suspended the
scapegoat employee deemed to be responsible for the playing of the noise.
It's a punishment that pales in comparison to the four-game suspension of Tom Brady, the stripping of a first- and a fourth-round pick and the imposing of a $1 million fine on the Patriots.
Blank and his organization cooperated fully with that NFL investigation because they were, very clearly, caught red-handed. They had no other choice. If they had a way to get out of it, like every NFL team throughout history has ever done, they'd do their best to try to go that route.
But they didn't. They got caught, and they received a slap on the wrist. Now, Blank can paint a picture that makes it look like his team -- his team which was caught cheating, mind you -- took the moral high ground.
"It's obviously embarrassing but beyond embarrassing it doesn't represent our culture and what we're about,"Blank said at the time, despite it actually being what the Falcons' culture is about.
"Anything that affects the competitive balance and fairness on the field, we're opposed to, as a league, as a club and as an owner," he also said at the time, again despite the fact that as a club the Falcons were not actually opposed to this action.
Might Blank be on the commissioner's side in this building fight after Goodell let the Falcons off with the most gentle of disciplines for an instance of clear and obvious cheating?
Kraft is certainly going to remember. And if the Patriots owner is keeping track of owners who choose to stand in his corner, there's one spot on the list that will have to remain Blank.
for more features.