Take heart, Atlanta: We no longer lead any league in stupidity!

Bobby Petrino: Once a Bird, now just a birdbrain. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Bobby Petrino once was a Bird. Now he's just a birdbrain. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This hasn’t been the easiest time to care about sports around here. The Braves collapsed in September, made no moves of note over the winter and started the new season 0-4. The Falcons didn’t score a point on offense in their playoff loss, made no ripple in free agency and don’t have a Round 1 pick in the draft. The Georgia Bulldogs lost the SEC championship game by 32 points, blew the Outback Bowl and have seen much of their defensive backfield arrested and/or suspended.

And here’s where we cast our eyes toward yonder horizon and espy …

A silver lining.

Our sporting fortunes might not be all that exciting at the moment, but we’ve gotten past the point (at least for the moment) where they’re utterly stupid. For utterly stupid, we must turn elsewhere in the South.

• An SEC head coach wrecked his motorcycle with his girlfriend aboard, and he did it, appropriately enough, on April Fool’s Day. He failed to mention the girlfriend’s presence to his boss (or, presumably, to his wife and children). Apparently this young woman was so dear to the coach that he not only hired her but gave her $20,000. The coach was fired Tuesday night.

• A National League East manager gave an interview to Time and expressed an affection for a despot, saying: “I love Fidel Castro.” That manager’s team had just christened a shining new stadium in an area of Miami known as Little Havana for its preponderance of Cubans, many of whom fled Castro’s regime. The manager was suspended Tuesday for five games.

• An NFC South team condoned a bounty program that was in place when this long-suffering franchise finally won a Super Bowl. The NFL’s discovery of these bounties resulted in a year’s suspension for the head coach, a half-year’s suspension for the general manager and a six-game suspension for the assistant head coach. The NFL upheld those penalties Monday.

It isn’t just that we Atlantans/Georgians can bask in the warm glow of schadenfreude. (That’s German for “pleasure taken from the misfortune of others.”) There’s a chance our local entries will benefit from this run of misbehavior. The NFC South team is New Orleans, which has beaten the Falcons 10 times in 12 games under the now-suspended Sean Payton. The NL East team managed by Ozzie Guillen is the Marlins, who spent heavily on personnel and have been tabbed by some to finish ahead of the Braves. And the SEC West team …

Well, that’s a double boon. Arkansas was seen as a top 10 team for 2012, just like Georgia, and the Razorbacks were coached by Bobby Petrino, who ran out on the Falcons after 13 games in 2007 and stands alongside Steve Spurrier and Jim Leyritz as the biggest villain in Atlanta/Georgia sports annals. Our response to Petrino’s (literal and figurative) fall: It couldn’t have happened to a nicer rat.

There’s another savory twist to this outbreak of idiocy. For once, Atlanta hasn’t been the source of such gaffes. Goodness knows, that hasn’t always been the case.

We’re the city that saw its NFL team’s only Super Bowl appearance besmirched by the arrest of Eugene Robinson for solicitation only hours after he accepted the league’s good citizenship award. We’re the city that saw its NBA franchise snarled in court for five years because one owner balked at the trade for Joe Johnson. We’re the city that recoiled when its baseball team’s closer gave an interview to another Time-Life publication — in John Rocker’s case, it was Sports Illustrated — that offended nearly every ethnicity. We’re the city that lost its NHL franchise — twice!

We in Atlanta saw our NFL team draft Michael Vick No. 1 overall and pay him big money, some of which he invested in a dogfighting enterprise in Virginia. To maximize Vick’s talent, the same NFL team hired Petrino away from Louisville. (As it happened, Petrino never coached Vick in a game.) We’re the city where the Georgia athletic director Damon Evans took his swerving midnight ride up Roswell Road with a woman who wasn’t his wife and whose undergarments weren’t in place.

Over time, we in Atlanta have known far more than our fair share of ridicule, so you’ll have to pardon us if we’re chuckling at the moment. We were just named the nation’s most miserable sports city by Forbes, and you know what they say about misery. It just loves company. And here’s where we say:

“Pull up a chair, Brother Petrino, and tell us all about it. Heh, heh, heh.”

By Mark Bradley

235 comments Add your comment

Buckeye

April 11th, 2012
1:45 pm

Thank goodness I’m a Buckeye!

Tommy Maddox

April 11th, 2012
1:46 pm

Good thing we have a good drum & bugle corps around town.

Buckeye

April 11th, 2012
1:46 pm

That photo of Petrino in Falcon garb almost made me lose my lunch.

Buckeye

April 11th, 2012
1:46 pm

some sense

April 11th, 2012
1:47 pm

Slit wrists.

GT Falcon

April 11th, 2012
1:47 pm

No mention of Tech, for good or bad? Like we’re not even part of Georgia. Wow.

LakeDawg

April 11th, 2012
1:47 pm

40TH. Ahhh, Petrino. Class act.

lanier

April 11th, 2012
1:48 pm

the only person to win in this jerks situation is the guy who was engaged to the chick. he found out she is a slut before he married her and had kids. lucky guy

blazerdawg

April 11th, 2012
1:49 pm

Marion Campbell should not be referenced in this category. Mora, maybe.

Tick

April 11th, 2012
1:55 pm

How ’bout Mora having to make a phone call during an OT game to find out what the playoff implications would be in case of a tie. LOL.

DawginLex

April 11th, 2012
1:55 pm

Atlanta still have Fredi?

Still stupid

Buckeye, you now have Urban.

Good luck with that!!

GT Falcon

April 11th, 2012
1:55 pm

Great article Mark. Thoroughly enjoyed it while eating my lunch…

Tick

April 11th, 2012
1:57 pm

I’m sorry we’re probably just limiting it to off field stupidity. Otherwise, there would be more Freddi Gonzalez talk here.

UGA Insider

April 11th, 2012
1:57 pm

Let’s not forget to mention to true Atlanta embarrassment which is GA Tech Football.

BigTimeTechFan

April 11th, 2012
1:59 pm

What about Denver letting go of Tim Tebow to sign Payton Manning, that was stupid.

Mark Bradley

April 11th, 2012
1:59 pm

Let me just note something: The hiring of Fredi Gonzalez was widely considered a great move among Braves fans.

KeepDreaming

April 11th, 2012
2:01 pm

Bwhahaha, so great. Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Karma’s a b*tch Bobby!!!

Dewnsav

April 11th, 2012
2:04 pm

Buckeye, really ?? Maurice Clartett…Art Modell…LaBron James…Jim Tressel

Herschel Talker

April 11th, 2012
2:05 pm

MB:

Anyone who is not a birdbrain realized that handpicking a successor from the Bobby Cox tree without interviewing anyone else was idiotic. Putting aside all biases, anytime someone interviews only one candidate, they are being quite short-sighted and closed-minded, wouldn’t you say?

HT

big b

April 11th, 2012
2:07 pm

Great article MB I would also add the twin idiots Marcus Cotton and 1st overall pick Andrey Bruce hoolding up the Pizza guy with a BB Gun.Oh yeah jerry G and his stupid West Coast Championship Trophy.

JB

April 11th, 2012
2:07 pm

SEC coach fired……………It’s always poon or money.

big b

April 11th, 2012
2:09 pm

Sorry, Holding. I hate this stupid Phone

Kobie

April 11th, 2012
2:12 pm

Great article and Mark you are right about the hiring of Fredi Gonzalez as well. Fans are never satisfied and the blog responses prove that. Fredi works with what he has. Now Frank Wren bashing, since he put the team together and Liberty for not spending money are actually better targets for blame.

LHardingDawg

April 11th, 2012
2:13 pm

The stupid thing that ranks up with Petrino is Evans and the red panties thing. Petrino should have taken the $20,000 dollars he paid his girlfriend as a bonus and bought her her very own motorcycle.

bison

April 11th, 2012
2:14 pm

One of the best articles that Bradley has ever written. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Herschel Talker

April 11th, 2012
2:14 pm

Buckeye:

Your school is a cesspool of filth and scum, and the recent Urban Meyer article shows that it will only get worse. Ohio is nothing but toxic waste.

HT

Tech Student

April 11th, 2012
2:16 pm

Dont worry, tech has had a couple of gaffs in the past few years:
Losing our acc title over $300 of never worn cloths.
Glen Rice Jr’s involvement in a shooting and dismissal from recovering basketball team.

GooooFalcons

April 11th, 2012
2:19 pm

A $20K “payment” to his mistress sounds like a abortion to me.

Professional Image Consultant

April 11th, 2012
2:19 pm

If we have learned anything from South Florida recently, excluding Ozzie Guillen, it is that the University of Arkansas might have had more sympathy for Coach Petrino if he had worn a Hoodie to that now-infamous press conference instead of that white Sugar Bowl hat.

Harry Harbaugh

April 11th, 2012
2:22 pm

I was ready to proclaim this the perfect column… until the last two sentences. Still an awesome read! Thanks for the German lesson, too.

Professional Image Consultant

April 11th, 2012
2:24 pm

Why doesn’t the AJC cover the marital “adventures” of one soon-to-be-divorced Arthur Blank with the same vigor they are so aggressively the said activities of one soon-to-be-divorced Bobby Petrino, a coach who left this city 5 YEARS AGO?

Mark Bradley

April 11th, 2012
2:27 pm

I was among the few who tweaked Frank Wren for not interviewing others. Not that I’m ever right about anything.

http://blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-blog/2010/10/13/fredi-gonzalez-the-best-choice-as-manager-or-the-easiest/?cxntfid=blogs_mark_bradley_blog

Steve

April 11th, 2012
2:27 pm

Biggest Atlanta sports villains? I vote for Kent Hrbek.

Heisenberg

April 11th, 2012
2:27 pm

And there is also the Texiera trade.

Preseason 2008 Champs!!!!!

April 11th, 2012
2:28 pm

“The Georgia Bulldogs lost the SEC championship game by 32 points, blew the Outback Bowl and have seen much of their defensive backfield arrested and/or suspended.”

Seems pretty normal for a second tier team like UGA.

Preseason 2008 Champs!!!!!

April 11th, 2012
2:29 pm

“Buckeye, you now have Urban.

Good luck with that!!”

Yeah, good luck with that guy. I mean, what’s he gonna do, win you guys a national championship or 2?

Preseason 2008 Champs!!!!!

April 11th, 2012
2:30 pm

“Biggest Atlanta sports villains?”

The Yankees, Blue Jays and Twins.

Matt

April 11th, 2012
2:39 pm

Karma is a b.

back in 1995

April 11th, 2012
2:43 pm

Seeing the words Atlanta and Sports in the same sentence is funny.

coach joe

April 11th, 2012
2:45 pm

So will they dump Freddie if the Braves don’t pick it up? who makes the decision? Thank God for Chipper…. I’m from New Orleans, love the Braves and don’t feel a bit sorry for Sean Payton.. He lied and if we don’t sign drew Brees soon, Falcons won’t have to wory about the Saints anymore. Benson is a fool…

Great column as usual…

Mark Bradley

April 11th, 2012
2:54 pm

I’d imagine Frank Wren has the responsibility of deciding if/when a manager should be fired, coach joe.

Mark Bradley

April 11th, 2012
2:55 pm

Speaking of wise managerial hires … Bobby Valentine is 1-5.

B.

April 11th, 2012
2:57 pm

I was waiting (and hoping) for this article.

Dewnsav

April 11th, 2012
2:58 pm

Buckeye, really ?? Woody Hayes…Art Schlichter…

StingerSplash

April 11th, 2012
3:00 pm

Given Fredi’s fairly lackluster tenure with the Marlins, the intercession into daily operations from Jeff Loria aside, this Braves fan was, to quote Bill Walton, underwhelmed.

909

April 11th, 2012
3:01 pm

Building a brand new Falcons stadium, right next to the current, with taxpayer money ??

No. Atlanta still has plenty of “stupid” left.

coloradobulldog

April 11th, 2012
3:02 pm

BigTimeTechFan, if you think it was dumb for Bronc to sign the one of the greatest QBs of all-time and move a guy who throws like a girl, then can’t believe you have a degree from Tech. Or maybe you do and should stick to comments on engineering.

bigdon

April 11th, 2012
3:03 pm

Have ya’ll forgotten about “hooker gate” at the Falcons only Superbowl appearance where our starting safety, Eugene Robinson, just the night before name NFL man of the year, got caught in a seedy part of Miami
soliciting for prostitution while his unknowing wife was still asleep in their hotel room? It may not be the most egregious, but as far as over all stupidity, I gotta believe that takes the cake. I mean I KNEW the game was lost without doubt Superbowl moring when I read that he had been arrested and released on bail at 4:30 that moning. Thanks a lot, Mr. Eugene Robinson

bigdon

April 11th, 2012
3:04 pm

What about Eugene Robinson? Serious DA!

Steve

April 11th, 2012
3:04 pm

Who makes the decision to fire Frank Wren? The moves he has made lately and the hiring of Fredi, show that he needs to be replaced. The Orioles are laughing.