Shortly before the Atlanta Falcons punched their Super Bowl ticket with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 22, Falcons owner Arthur Blank got an email from an unlikely supporter: Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The two have been close since Blank bought the Falcons in February 2002, the same month Kraft’s Patriots first won the Super Bowl.
Kraft reached out to say he was pulling for Atlanta in the NFC championship. After the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship, Blank and Kraft are set to face each other in the big game Sunday, Feb. 5. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. on Fox 5.
“It’s been a dream of ours to compete against each other in the Super Bowl,” Blank said at a press conference Thursday, Jan. 26. “I’ve had to remind Robert that we’re not actually going to be playing each other on the field, though; it’s our teams that will.”
In 2002, after Blank purchased the Falcons, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggested he meet with Kraft for advice. Kraft told Blank that if he ran the team the same way he ran Home Depot, he would be successful.
Blank took Kraft’s advice. Under his ownership, the Falcons have appeared in the playoffs seven times in 15 seasons after making the playoffs only six times in the previous 36 seasons.
“The success we had at Home Depot was a sustained success for a long period of time,” Blank said.
Regardless of the outcome in the Super Bowl, Blank said the Falcons should have their own period of sustained success.
“With the exception of (kicker) Matt Bryant, who is close to my age or older,” he said, “this is a very young team. So we’re very well positioned to be competitive for a long time going forward.”
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