Live from the Dome: A former prince returns to the city

The reunion we've long awaited: Arthur M. Blank and MV7. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The midfield reunion we've long awaited: Arthur M. Blank and Michael Vick. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Michael Vick has returned to the Georgia Dome. He jogged on the field at 11:24 a.m. He received a polite round of applause. (There weren’t many folks in the stands yet.) The first person he approached was Jimmy Cribb, the longtime Falcons photographer. The two embraced.

“He told me I always took good pictures of him,” Cribb said, “and if I got anything good today to send them to him.”

Then came the long-awaited meeting with Arthur Blank. (See above photo, shot by someone much less professional than Jimmy Cribb.) And then Reggie Roberts, the Falcons’ VP of communications, walked over to Vick. More hugging ensued.

Roberts: “He told me he missed being here. He misses the city, misses the Dome. He said he was crying on the bus ride over.”

Along those lines, here’s a snippet of an as-told-to article Vick did with David Fleming of ESPN The Magazine. Here’s Vick speaking his mind on, of all things, the Dome:

“I’m looking forward to going back to the Georgia Dome. I may not do much. I may not even play in the game. But just having the opportunity to be there and maybe have a chance to talk to the Falcons owner, Mr. Blank, before the game — that would be a great thing for me. I spent many a Sunday making that crowd go wild, and I appreciate all those fans. They were great. Man, I miss [those] days.”

In all the furor over Michael Vick, one truth kept getting lost: No matter what he did, the guy’s still a human being. And now he’s again a football player. We don’t know much he’ll play today, if at all. And we don’t yet know — it’s only 11:45 — how the crowd will be. My guess: Warm toward Vick, warmer toward the Falcons.

Speaking of whom: The home side is up against it. Here’s the inactive list: Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Michael Jenkins, Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl. That’s five offensive starters out for what is a game with massive playoff ramifications. (The Falcons and Eagles are tracking the same wild card.) The only consolation, and it’s slim: Philly is missing playmakers DeSean Jackson and Brian Westbrook.

And that’s why a 7-4 road team is a 5-1/2 point favorite over a 6-5 opponent. You never see that in the NFL, but today seems a day where form could take a hike. The Falcons are undermanned, but there’s almost a last-stand element to this one. Meaning: On this given Sunday, the desperate club could just lift itself by its bootstraps.

And I’ll be here to watch and report, as we say in the trade, with one difference: I have permission from AJC.com higher-ups not to make this a live chat, but because the day has started on a bright conciliatory note I’ve decided to open the floor for comments. Should we devolve into our usual volley of back-and-forthing, the live chat will go away and will not re-open. It’s your choice. Thanks in advance.

1,246 comments Add your comment

UGA 30 GT 24

December 6th, 2009
12:08 pm

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:08 pm

from worst to first!

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:10 pm

Coach Willie, I mean no offense, but if you’d have spent as much time studying opponents as you do on here … well, just sayin’.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:11 pm

said aurthur to michael vick
son, the things you’ve done make me sick
but thats now past
lets have a blast
my team your tail will kick

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:12 pm

Mark, i knew the coaching gig was over at the end of the season so i had to come up with another way to make a living.

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:12 pm

Oh, and for Sonny Clusters: A.M. Blank is wearing the gray glen-plaid suit.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:13 pm

i’m currently in negotiations with ron popeil about publishing my poetry and memoirs.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:15 pm

i’m not crazy about his idea to have the first autograph session at the uga bookstore.

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:16 pm

Perhaps the U. of Florida bookstore would be a more suitable venue.

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:17 pm

Both teams taking the field for warmups. Falcons in red jerseys. Vick is throwing the ball down near the goal line. (Actually, he just handed off.)

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:17 pm

maybe radio would be better. seems that ex uga coaches get those kind of jobs.

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:18 pm

They do. Except Hugh Durham.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:18 pm

Mark, i was going to use that line but i knew you’d be thinking gainesville, ga and i didnt want to confuse you.

BugKiller

December 6th, 2009
12:18 pm

Back after a self enforced exile from Wednesday’s wonderful announcement.

I wanted to take time to savor the situation, as well as hold back, because, as horrible and terrible a job those three coaches did, they now find themselves looking to put food on their family’s table.

They, of course, will find it much easier to find work than I did for two months, being that no matter how terrible you are, the coaching fraternity takes care of their own.

That being said, I believe Andy Reid will try and find a spot for Sick Vick in the game today.

I, of course, expect the mentally challenged at the game to cheer him, but also expect the normal people in the stands, both black and white, to boo the hell out of him.

That being said, I only have one other thing to say for the time being:

To paraphrase from “Apocalypse Now”:

“I love the bitter taste of Tim Tebow’s Little Girl Tears in the morning… it tastes like… VICTORY.”

Sonny Clusters

December 6th, 2009
12:18 pm

Mark, thanks for that report on Arthur Blank’s suit. He’s been wearing that one a lot do you think it’s his lucky suit?

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:19 pm

Russ told me he was no fan of michael vick.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:22 pm

i think knoxville would be a good signing city. i could catch johnny knoxvillewood while there.

BugKiller

December 6th, 2009
12:23 pm

Oh, and Mark… LOVED the half-capacity crowd at the Awful Crappy Conference Consolation Game.

The team of Bugs from NATS should have felt right at home playing in front of a half-empty stadium.

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:23 pm

I’m thinking A.M. Blank might have 10 glen-plaid suits. But I don’t know for certain.

Sonny Clusters

December 6th, 2009
12:24 pm

Let’s hope he’s had that suit down at One Hour Martinizing as much as he’s wearing it. Marston’s and Wintes have a history.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

December 6th, 2009
12:25 pm

HA HA HA

The AJC bans people when they don’t get their way :)

To me, that makes me a winner :)

You guys do realize what that hug between Art Blank and Vick was about :)

The off season will tell you exactly what they talked about :)

Just read that the CHOKE may be done for the season and if he does have toe turf, he may be done for good, so…………

What do they do about the quarterback next season…………. Interesting and a lot of guaranteed money for an inactive player

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:25 pm

this is my coaching obit
not very pleasant from where i sit
things fell apart
now moving i’ll start
and working on a comedy skit

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:27 pm

Sonny, you gave me a GREAT idea: Willie’s One-Hour Martinizing. Franchises available in Gainesville, Knoxville, Tuscaloosa, and Jacksonville.

Thanks a million, willie

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:28 pm

Willie’s One-Hour Martinizing: Where your clothes get taken to the cleaners, just like my defenses.

King Herod

December 6th, 2009
12:30 pm

Nice picture, Mark. Capturiing the subjects and the other photographers established the scene. And thanks for putting the football in Vick’s hands, lest we be confused. ;-)

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:30 pm

here at willie’s we martinize
no matter your suit size
stains we beat
its our treat
and lucky patrons win a prize

dawgma

December 6th, 2009
12:30 pm

Should have never let Vick’s contract go. Today we would be celebrating his return to a starter (only temporarily) and his redemption story would be uplifting. He also owes AB about 10M so he would be getting a return ion his crappy investment.

Instead..,Falcons lose miderably to the Eagles today.

BTW…we would still have the best young QB in the league healing with MR!!!!

NCBravesFan

December 6th, 2009
12:30 pm

Mark – nice post: I do hope that Vick has a nice renaissance. Just not today. ;)

He’s paid his dues and most of us have moved on.

Will you get the chance to interview him after the game?

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:30 pm

Mark, always the skeptic.

dawgma

December 6th, 2009
12:31 pm

Sorry that lose MISERABLY!

Mark Richt

December 6th, 2009
12:32 pm

You go Mark B. I’ve been preaching (so to speak) that to willie that for 5 years!!!

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:32 pm

Mark, please ask A Blank if he is interested in my new business providing cleaning services for those neat Home Depot aprons.

thanks, willie

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:32 pm

Vick just went over and shook hands with some fans in the end zone on his way to the locker room. He’s trying hard, it seems to me.

But the Eagles as a team got booed as they exited. And I have to date seen only two Vick jerseys. Seen three McNabbs.

Herschel Talker

December 6th, 2009
12:33 pm

GO FALCONS!

HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!
HAHAHAHA. TIM TEBOW CRIED ON NATIONAL TV!!!

BugKiller

December 6th, 2009
12:33 pm

Willie… or is it willie?

Anyway, I fully expect you to land on your feet.

I heard Parkview is looking for a new JV football defensive backs coach.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:33 pm

Mark Richt, you’re supposed to be at church.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:34 pm

thanks Bug, but i’ve moved on from coaching. do you wear a suit to work everyday?

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:34 pm

As it stands, esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore is doing the Vick story for print. But if Vick does something of note — like, say, win the game — I might have to venture over to the visitors’ locker room.

Cedrick

December 6th, 2009
12:35 pm

Now, I now Matt Ryan has turf toe but this guy has to learn to play hurt. A college (yes college) player CJ Spiller from Clemson also has turf toe but he went out and put 233 rushing yards on GA Tech. Now why the hell can’t Ryan play in a MUST win game??????

SadDawg

December 6th, 2009
12:35 pm

Good to see Blank and Vick chatting. Those two were pretty close for several years. I think Vick has reformed himself now. Good luck to him. Go Falcons.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:35 pm

Mark, i know you’re tight with lawyer types; give them the info on my knew business.

i’ll run a special: fleece for the fleecers.

preston

December 6th, 2009
12:35 pm

Mark, I really do like the way that you treat Vick in your articles. We all hate what he did, but you can expect the usual vociferous language in these blogs that we have come to know and love. I am actually glad to see him abck at the dome, and I know that Ried will give him some action today.

Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2009
12:36 pm

Thanks, Preston. I’ve said it many times, but here goes: I’ve always liked Michael Vick.

willie martinez

December 6th, 2009
12:38 pm

i think A Blank was tellling vick the check bounced.

Mike "Dog Choker" Vick

December 6th, 2009
12:39 pm

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Shirly Hemphill

December 6th, 2009
12:39 pm

I don’t wanna say that photo op looks a bit staged, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the Salahis in this picture sharing the love

Tyler P

December 6th, 2009
12:40 pm

Vick paid an extensive price like a man. Welcome back to football. Best of luck to you.

Tim Tebow

December 6th, 2009
12:40 pm

I get so emotional at times like this!!!

And I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry :’(

SadDawg

December 6th, 2009
12:41 pm

NC BravesFan, you’ve “moved on”, but you’re asking Mark about an interview with MV?

BugKiller

December 6th, 2009
12:42 pm

As with ANY injury, there are varying degrees of seriousness.

Seems to me that medical professionals employed by the team says Ryan’s injury is particularly bad, and the way THEY see it, he should miss MULTIPLE games.

But I guess other people know better, right?