Ex-Dome GM on Vick’s return: ‘I don’t think it’ll be a big thing’

Curious  how the Georgia Dome might be Sunday, I asked the man who has spent more Sundays in the Dome than anyone. Khalil Johnson ran the building from the day it opened in 1992 until retiring as chief operating office of the World Congress Center earlier this year. Of Michael Vick’s return to Northside Drive, Johnson said this:

“I don’t think it’ll be a big thing.”

Here’s the man who understands better than anyone — better even than Arthur M. Blank, who declined this week to comment on Vick’s impending arrival as a Philadelphia backup — what Michael Vick meant to this city. Johnson began working at the World Congress Center  in 1976. Widely considered the best in his industry, Johnson was a key reason why so many big events kept coming to the Dome, and even in retirement he remains involved in the annual staging of the Final Four.

“He was great for Georgia Dome business,” said Johnson, speaking of Vick. “Other than the run we had to the Super Bowl in 1998 with Jamal [Anderson] and the Dirty Birds, he was the best thing that happened to us concerning the Falcons. He turned the Dome from a sleepy place on Sundays into a place with a college atmosphere.”

Remember the complaints in the Dome’s early days that the building wasn’t a good football venue? Vick washed those away. Johnson again: “He lit it up. He made it the place to be.” And yes, he sold out the place as a matter of course.

But then he was indicted for dogfighting and the Falcons moved on. There are folks — at least two or three, as we know from AJC.com message boards — who feel the team abandoned its franchise quarterback. Said Johnson: “[The Falcons] made a business decision. I don’t think anybody can blame them for that.”

He’s an Eagle now, and the Eagles play here Sunday. From the moment Vick signed with Philly back in August, we Atlantans have had the game circled. Will the crowd be for a visiting player or the home team? Will there be more Vick shirts than jerseys of current Falcons on display? Will the two sides clash in the stands?

Johnson: “I expect there’ll be a lot of Falcons No. 7 jerseys in the stands. People will come to support the kid, and he needs and deserves support.”

Then this: “If Vick was starting, there’d be a whole different dynamic. There will be a lot more people interested in how the Falcons’ defense does than what’s happening on the Philly bench.”

The Dome on Sunday will be:

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In his dealings with the Falcons, Johnson came to know Vick, he said, “a little bit. He seemed to me a fairly quiet young man who kept to himself and had his own friends. By no means did I ever see him as some kind of gangster or thug or hard guy.”

In his return to the NFL, Johnson believes Vick “has made real strides. I think this year has been a positive for him.” That in mind, he envisions the setting Sunday not as a divisive thing but as something heartening.

“He has some real supporters, and I think they’re going to be as positive as he has been this season,” Johnson said. “And there’s still reason to be excited about the Falcons. Maybe not as excited as we thought … ”

Here he laughed. Back to football now. Referring to the franchise’s inability to stack consecutive winning seasons together, Johnson said: “But they still might break the jinx.”

261 comments Add your comment

Sonny Clusters

December 3rd, 2009
11:13 am

Sonny Clusters

December 3rd, 2009
11:14 am

Those clubs Elin used could turn out to be real popular. She beat Tiger Woods with ‘em.

Sonny Clusters

December 3rd, 2009
11:17 am

Being second means the worm’s gone. Only early birds get the worm. Early bird starts about 5:00 at the Red Lobster. Bobby Bowden will be eating the early bird from now on. Mike Vick says it’s his town. Deion said it was his house. Mr. Blank should wear something really nice to the game because he’s going to be on camera a lot. No Hush Puppies.

FalconUGAFan

December 3rd, 2009
11:22 am

Gonna get my comments in before the stupid breaks out. I miss Mike Vick on the field, but not off the field. Too bad we didn’t get to see him at his full potential. I think everyone concerned learned some lesson from Blank on down to Vick. I think we should learn from the 2 of them and move on to support whomever the Falcons put on the team. Go Falcons!

Sonny Clusters

December 3rd, 2009
11:23 am

A grouping like that . . . that’s called “clustering”.

SOUTHGADAWG88

December 3rd, 2009
11:30 am

The Eagles will be without Westbrook and Jackson on offense..I say Vick will play early and often.I’m sure the falcons fully expect to get a strong dose of Mike Vick.

Joshua

December 3rd, 2009
11:32 am

Lived in the ATL for almost 7 years. Been through it all with the Michael saga. He turned me from a casual football fan to a die-hard. I support the Falcons, but on this Sunday, I’ll support Michael more as I’ll be at the game wearing my #7 Philly jersey. He paid his price and deserves the second chance that he’s getting. Clearly a changed man who should have our support here in the ATL, regardless of what team you’re rooting for.

blazerdawg

December 3rd, 2009
11:36 am

Support Vick, fine, he has paid his dues and is doing everything the right way now.

But why does his support need to be at the expense of the Falcons, and beyond entertainment what did he ever do for you, his great supporters?

midnite

December 3rd, 2009
11:41 am

Vick is human not Superman as he claimed. He will be nervous as a cat. I don’t think Reid will let him see the field. He will be too distracted. He definitely will not be announced or honored as some of his supporters think. You would think by now Vick would have learned to keep his mouth shut.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

December 3rd, 2009
11:46 am

VICK’S RETURN NOT A BIG THING:

To Vick it may not be a big thing and business as usual, but to Art?

Let’s take a look at what I consider the recent events to be an obvious CONSPIRACY. Not a CONSPIRACY? Well let’s take a look at the current transactions leading up to the Falcons showdown in the last 5 days:

- The CHOKE’s sudden injury

Now this event really stuck out like a sore thumb, considering he had never sustained any injury whatsoever before.

2nd, he suddenly got injured just 1 game prior to playing in a game that could erase all memories of the franchise qb that he replaced or it could make him look like the BUST that I labeled him at draft day.

- Smith ruled CHOKE out of game on Monday

It has been stated by several AJC staff members that it’s not Smith’s way to release information on injuries prior to the deadline and routinely even list the players as “questionable” and game time decisions.

So why would he announce on a Monday afternoon, prior to getting MRI results, that the CHOKE had been ruled out. I mean take Norwood as an example. He had been out for 4-6 weeks and each weak he would be listed as “questionable” and not once was his status reported prior to the deadline.

- Cut Elam and sign Shockley on the same day

Clever move? Only if you are sleep walking and have very tiny brain cells. This is called “under the radar” attempts.

You see Blank is not very happy with his qb play and this signing of Shockley and the “FAKE” injury of the CHOKE was pre-planned. Blank wanted to BENCH the CHOKE but he wanted to do it in a subtle manner, that’s why the “FAKE” injury was used to make it look like he wasn’t being benched, but only because of an injury – B.S.!

He didn’t want to look like the FOOL he was when he made this 5th year senior, with 22 PICKS, a franchise qb. You can’t just bench your franchise qb, especially when the previous franchise qb took the team to the highest points it has been at, since going to the Superbowl, the last decade.

Furthermore, there were starters that missed practice yesterday, yet none of them were ruled out of Sunday’s game and in fact, they still have not been rule out, so why is the CHOKE a special case?

CONSPIRACY!

They are so afraid of being shown up on Sunday, they have pulled the CHOKE because they know he would EMBARRASS them, just as he has this season.

So I say to the Falcons: To them, this is A BIG DEAL!

Bat Masterson

December 3rd, 2009
11:48 am

Congratulations on your trifecta Sonny, such feats should not go unrecognized. I hit the trifecta on the earlier Tiger Woods blog and what did I get for all that hard work? Nada. No Don Pardo, no call from The White House, nothing. That’s okay though, I intend to train harder and hit the grand slam soon. Kudos.

I Now Pronounce You "Barack & Larry."

December 3rd, 2009
11:52 am

Athletically, many people in Atlanta call Mike Vick the “Fran Tarkenton” of the 21st-Century NFL.

Socially, however, many of those same people here in Atlanta call Mike Vick the “Johnny Appleseed” of Herpes.

FalconUGAFan

December 3rd, 2009
11:57 am

Choke gotta partially agree with you on this one. Vick has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He doesn’t play, no biggie; coach Reid didn’t put him in. He does play, great gains a few yards or lights up the Dome, again win.

Now the Falcons and Falcon fans. Everything to lose. Lost money, lost prestige, lost fans, lost coach, lost players, etc, etc….. So Blank and the Falcons want to minimize the damage this time around. Blank has to build his product up to be a money maker again. You call it a conspiracy…maybe.. but really what is your point? Maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong. But what does it really matter as the fans continue to lose out all around.

DJ Sniper

December 3rd, 2009
11:58 am

I liked Vick when he was here, and I’m glad he got another chance in the NFL, but ultimately, my support is with the Falcons. People kill me talking about the Falcons abandoned Vick in his time of crisis. What the hell did those people expect the team to do???? Had he actually gone to trial and been acquited or just got convicted of a misdemeanor like Ray Lewis and THEN the team dumped him, then I would be upset. The man plead guilty and had to go to prison, so Arthur Blank had to make a business move to find a new QB to build around. You can’t get mad at the man for that.

cattle dawg

December 3rd, 2009
11:59 am

Who wants to bet vick gets more playing time this week… He might run the wildcat 3 times this week. Worst case scenario!!! Mcnabb goes down and vick leads a comeback win….

midnite

December 3rd, 2009
12:07 pm

Choke

Have you killed any dogs lately. You used to openly boast about killing dogs on these blogs. Shall we go through the archives and show everyone?

Reid Adair

December 3rd, 2009
12:08 pm

Mike Vick has been a non-factor in the Eagles’ offense, and I seriously doubt that Andy Reid will alter their usual game plan that much just because Philadelphia is playing the Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

There will be those who support Vick at the game (including the “at least two or three, as we know from AJC.com message boards”), but I think it will still be a home-team crowd supporting the current Falcons.

atlshirt.com

December 3rd, 2009
12:11 pm

I can not wait to see Shockley in the GAME!!!

Terrell in The ATL

December 3rd, 2009
12:14 pm

Everybody that truly love Mike Vick!

THE MAN is coming back home this Sunday! And what we need to do as a community is come together to show our support and our solidarity and our love for the special human being that put this city on the map!

Let’s everybody put on your #7 jerseys this weekend Falcons or Eagles and let us all show all the haters that we all know and remember who the real face of football in this city is and remind Arthur Blank of all the people who remember what he did to the greatest athlete in the history of this whole state!

When we go out and about this weekend while showing our support for Mike by wearing our jersey let’s all do the following together to show we are united and that we are strong.

* When you go out to the mall to do you Christmas shopping walk as slow as you can so that all the haters will be stuck behind you and they will see that 7 IN THEIR FACE! They will remember who they REAL QUARTERBACK is!

* You go into one of them stores and start singing out loud about #7 while wearing your jersey or however you feel lead to do. There ain’t nobody going to take away mine or your right to free speech. Make all them haters know how you feel!

* If you go to the movies be sure to say your love for Mike loud and proud during the movie so all the haters won’t be able to enjoy the movie and will have to sit there and think about what this city lost.

* When you get out on the highway don’t use your turn signal when you make turns or change lanes so all the haters will be confused about where you going – You will be just like Mike do when he dodge line backers and won’t no body be able to guess where he will zig zag next.

* When you got out to get you some lunch back your ridez into as many parking spaces as you can so all the ignorant haters won’t have nowhere good to park.

* After you have your lunch in your ride and throw your bones out the car window be sure to get to to arrange them so they spell out MV7 and so all the haters will see it and be forced to RECOGNIZE! when they walk by and see it.

Together we are strong! And we can send a message to EVERYBODY that MV THE MAN is back and he is to take care of business! Show all them sorry people that just want to hate on Mike for NO REASON what’s up!

WE LOVE YOU MIKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cattle dawg

December 3rd, 2009
12:16 pm

It was kind of a tongue in cheek remark.. He will get a nice greeting from the fans the first time he comes in. Thats about it.

Benjamin

December 3rd, 2009
12:20 pm

lol @ “We love you, Mike….”

Benjamin

December 3rd, 2009
12:21 pm

I look forward to seeing Vick play about as much influence in this weekend’s game as Ryan does. How many snaps do you think he’ll see, honestly? Five? Ten?

Steve

December 3rd, 2009
12:24 pm

Terrell you sound like the biggest moron I have ever seen on a blog. How many times did you sleep with Vick?

Steve

December 3rd, 2009
12:25 pm

Terrell “The sorry people want to hate Vick for no reason?” Really? I know you probably grew up without a father and are very uneducated because you did not finish high school but are you that stupid?

Just A Fan

December 3rd, 2009
12:28 pm

Vick fans are pathetic. Get real

GREG NORTON

December 3rd, 2009
12:28 pm

THE EX DOME GM? REALLY? REALLY? Wow cant believe you landed him, he’s huge! I was just thinking this morning on my way in I wonder what the ex-GM of the dome has to say about Vick’s return, NERTZ TO U!

blazerdawg

December 3rd, 2009
12:30 pm

T in ATL – awesome, that is hilarious.

blessed

December 3rd, 2009
12:31 pm

Time to celebrate the man applaud him and then applaud your team and leave the man alone he has moved on so should you. Wish him well

Najeh Davenpoop

December 3rd, 2009
12:35 pm

Mike Vick said himself in the USA Today yesterday (heh heh) that Arthur Blank made the right business decision in parting ways with him, and as much as he loved being in the ATL it was the right move for Blank to make. Where the Falcons organization SHOULD get the blame is in the fact that they never bothered to give Vick the competent coaches, front office, and supporting cast that young quarterbacks need in order to improve and succeed in this league, and as a result, every ounce of success the Falcons had with Vick was in spite of most of the people around him.

Gamer

December 3rd, 2009
12:36 pm

I’m going out on the limb with this prediction. If Redman, White and T. Gonzalez play all four quarters then the Falcons win against the Eagles.

I think it will be a good played game by both teams but in the end the Falcons take this one.

Falcons still can go 10-6. Go Falcons control your own destiny!!!

MCook

December 3rd, 2009
12:37 pm

I wonder what the over-under is that Terrell gets his a$$ kicked this weekend.

Mr. Thomas Anthony "The Taxman Cometh" Jones, SR (Lt. Col./Waf-SS. ret.)

December 3rd, 2009
12:43 pm

The Atlanta Vultures backstabbed Mr. Vick. Their shameful and racist actions disgusts all people of goodwill. Mr. Blank’s shameful actions are not typical of the type of professional we expect from a businessperson here in Atlanta. God will judge harsgly those people who while attacvking Mr. Vick on a minor issue are themselves not filing their federal and state Income Taxes. Remember God will come to judge the quick and thwe dead. Thoase who racistly attacked Mr. Vick will burn in Hell for all eternity. Our prayers are for Mr. Vick and his family. May the Falcons lose Sunday!!! Amen!!!

Mr. Thomas Anthony "The Taxman Cometh" Jones, SR (Lt. Col./Waf-SS. ret.)

December 3rd, 2009
12:43 pm

The Atlanta Vultures backstabbed Mr. Vick. Their shameful and racist actions disgusts all people of goodwill. Mr. Blank’s shameful actions are not typical of the type of professional we expect from a businessperson here in Atlanta. God will judge harsgly those people who while attacvking Mr. Vick on a minor issue are themselves not filing their federal and state Income Taxes. Remember God will come to judge the quick and thwe dead. Thoase who racistly attacked Mr. Vick will burn in Hell for all eternity. Our prayers are for Mr. Vick and his family. May the Falcons lose Sunday!!! Amen!!!

Brock

December 3rd, 2009
12:43 pm

Terrell- way to keep the sterotype of the black communtity alive. What a tard.

Brock

December 3rd, 2009
12:44 pm

“community” for all the grammar nazis.

Fore

December 3rd, 2009
12:45 pm

Gee, “Choke”, wonder why you really don’t like Ryan.

And Terrell, wow. Just a tiny chip on the shoulder, no? LOL. Keep livin’ in the past homeboy. The only hater here is you.

midnite

December 3rd, 2009
12:49 pm

Nageh

So did the non support of the Falcons cause Vick to make all of those terrible lifestyle choices?

Stargazer Lil

December 3rd, 2009
12:49 pm

Mr. Thomas Anthony, you’re a joke. And what a surprise, we have another Vick lover crying racism. Look in the mirror, bozo. You are what you are. Blank was shameful for supporting Vick, eh? Vick spit in his face over and over. He got what he deserved. Not surprising that someone like you would idolize someone like Vick.

Tech Tony

December 3rd, 2009
12:50 pm

For this year, Vick is an afterthought. He has contributed next to nothing to the Eagles offense but in the end, that may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.

He’s gotten his chance to return to the NFL while at the same time letting some of the anti-Vick fervor fade away outside the shine of the spotlight. Next year, if he goes somewhere else to continue his career, he gets not quite a clean slate but a much cleaner slate than he would have had he been a starter somewhere this year where anything he did would have been under not just a microscope but the Hubble telescope.

In many ways, I see a parallel between Michael Vick and Dany Heatley. Forces were in place (mind you, both players were responsible for this happening, not the organizations for which they played) that were going to prevent either from being at their best in Atlanta ever again.

It can be argued that the opposite of love is not hate but rather indifference. Personally, I agree with that and I think my feelings towards Vick as his return to Atlanta illustrate that. I don’t love him, I don’t hate him, I am simply indifferent. He’s just another nondescript guy.

Jam

December 3rd, 2009
12:53 pm

Mcook your a coward

EricADawgFan

December 3rd, 2009
12:59 pm

I will cheer Michael Vick when he comes into the Dome…. He has made Millions for this Franchise, and gave a new meaning in winning for the Falcons. I will wear number 7 jersey, give him a standing ovation, and cheer for him. However; I am a Falcon Fan and I hope that Atlanta wins. However; I do want Michael to play, and have a stellar performance. Show the people that he still has it. That he is still a great Quarterback.

Jam

December 3rd, 2009
1:02 pm

why are people still worrying themselves about the players life styles off the field, do they really modle there life on an athelete. people get your own life together then you want need to worry about tiger, or mike or what anyone , that may be just enough to keep you busy

Shirly Hemphill

December 3rd, 2009
1:04 pm

Terell
That was awesome and made even better by the comments.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

December 3rd, 2009
1:08 pm

midnite

December 3rd, 2009
12:07 pm
Choke

Have you killed any dogs lately. You used to openly boast about killing dogs on these blogs. Shall we go through the archives and show everyone?

“Midnite/BugKiller” Why must you torture yourself? Do you really think my opinion of stinking, worthless butt sniffing dogs will change the fact that the CHOKE is a BUST?

I will say this though, I can have a more intelligent conversation with a dog than I can with “YOU” people, so there you have it.

I will repeat once again. I care as much about dogs, as I do for port, chicken or beef, so I can care less if you choose to make a four legged animal part of your family.

Remember one thing: If you don’t feed them, turn your back on them and see if they don’t bite your dumb azz :)

MCook

December 3rd, 2009
1:11 pm

Jam,
Try mixing in a dictionary next time you post.

Gatorzone

December 3rd, 2009
1:12 pm

I am sure there will be enough “VICK FANS” in the stands showing their @ss enough to really embarrass the City of Atlanta as well as Falcon fans in general. You guys make it real hard to defend the team to other people, especially when I don’t live in Georgia!

Choke is a joke

December 3rd, 2009
1:13 pm

Matt “Choke” Ryan

December 3rd, 2009
11:46 am

VICK’S RETURN NOT A BIG THING:

To Vick it may not be a big thing and business as usual, but to Art?

Let’s take a look at what I consider the recent events to be an obvious CONSPIRACY. Not a CONSPIRACY? Well let’s take a look at the current transactions leading up to the Falcons showdown in the last 5 days:

- The CHOKE’s sudden injury

Now this event really stuck out like a sore thumb, considering he had never sustained any injury whatsoever before.

2nd, he suddenly got injured just 1 game prior to playing in a game that could erase all memories of the franchise qb that he replaced or it could make him look like the BUST that I labeled him at draft day.

- Smith ruled CHOKE out of game on Monday

It has been stated by several AJC staff members that it’s not Smith’s way to release information on injuries prior to the deadline and routinely even list the players as “questionable” and game time decisions.

So why would he announce on a Monday afternoon, prior to getting MRI results, that the CHOKE had been ruled out. I mean take Norwood as an example. He had been out for 4-6 weeks and each weak he would be listed as “questionable” and not once was his status reported prior to the deadline.

- Cut Elam and sign Shockley on the same day

Clever move? Only if you are sleep walking and have very tiny brain cells. This is called “under the radar” attempts.

You see Blank is not very happy with his qb play and this signing of Shockley and the “FAKE” injury of the CHOKE was pre-planned. Blank wanted to BENCH the CHOKE but he wanted to do it in a subtle manner, that’s why the “FAKE” injury was used to make it look like he wasn’t being benched, but only because of an injury – B.S.!

He didn’t want to look like the FOOL he was when he made this 5th year senior, with 22 PICKS, a franchise qb. You can’t just bench your franchise qb, especially when the previous franchise qb took the team to the highest points it has been at, since going to the Superbowl, the last decade.

Furthermore, there were starters that missed practice yesterday, yet none of them were ruled out of Sunday’s game and in fact, they still have not been rule out, so why is the CHOKE a special case?

CONSPIRACY!

They are so afraid of being shown up on Sunday, they have pulled the CHOKE because they know he would EMBARRASS them, just as he has this season.

So I say to the Falcons: To them, this is A BIG DEAL!

————————————————————————————-

Look! The Idiots Back!

midnite

December 3rd, 2009
1:13 pm

Jam

Let me ask you a question. Did Vicks lifestyle choices affect his NFL career?

Because of his off field bad decisions the Falcons lost their QB on the on the field. Off field behavior does matter because it affects others…think about it.

Jam

December 3rd, 2009
1:16 pm

not the point that you cant let it go

retired on the lake

December 3rd, 2009
1:16 pm

Don’t ya just love those Vick apologist and historical revisionists. Hope Mr. Vick does well with is 5 th or 6 th chance at getting it right. (ron mexico, quitting in december games , flipping off fans, killing dogs when he should have been studying films, water bottle incident, etc etc etc) just not against OUR ATLANTA FALCONS.!!! Go Falcons whip them Eagles. To the conVick fans making the championship game was better than going to a super bowl, guess cause we went with a honky (beep beep) QB. PERSONAL responsibility is not the conVick fans strong suit, may Mr. Vick do well just not against OUR ATLANTA FALCONS. GO FALCONS BEAT PHILLY!!!!!