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Top Story No. 3: Falcons falter

POSTED: January 10, 2008 5:03 a.m.

The year that was, for Atlanta's professional football team, can only be categorized by saying that the Falcons had a good run of bad luck.

It began with one Michael Dwayne "Ookie" Vick, the Falcons' then starting quarterback and face of the franchise, and ends today when the current Falcons play the final game of their subpar 2007 season.

Things looked on the upside when Falcons' owner Arthur Blank "stole" Bobby Petrino from Louisville, signing him to a five-year, $24 million contract.

Petrino's innovative offense was supposed to bring out the best in Vick, hoping to show that Vick was not only a true passer, but also one of the best athletes in the NFL.

Then things seemed to fall apart.

On April 25, evidence of unlawful dog fighting activities at a property owned by Vick in a rural county in southeastern Virginia came to light. Vick not only denied any wrong doing, but also denied knowledge of what went on at the property he owned.

On July 17, a federal grand jury in Richmond, Va., indicted Vick on charges related to an alleged operation of a dogfighting ring based at property Vick owned in southeastern Virginia.

Vick was charged with competitive dogfighting and conducting the venture across state lines. The 19-page indictment accused Vick of being highly involved in the operation, alleging that he attended fights and paid off bets when his dogs lost. It said he also was involved in the executions of dogs that did not perform well.

Things never seemed to fall into place for the Falcons following Vick's departure, leaving constant confusion as to who Atlanta's signal caller would be. Growing unrest among veteran players seemed to leave Petrino unhappy on the sidelines.

Then the unexpected happened. Petrino shocked Falcons' players and fans on Dec. 12, abruptly resigning after 13 games, taking the vacant Arkansas job, signing his name to a five-year, $2.85 million contract.

The resignation angered many players, as the words "coward" and "quitter" were used to describe the former Falcons' coach.

Following constant unrest, Blank found himself looking for ways to quickly rebuild the Falcons' organization, as reports surfaced that Bill Parcells had came to agreements with the Falcons to take over as general manager.

Bad news struck again when Atlanta learned that Parcells decided to turn down the Falcons and take the same job with the Miami Dolphins.



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