Oct 10, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank reacts during an NFL International Series game against the New York Jets at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Falcons defeated the Jets 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arthur Blank has COVID, will miss first-ever game as Falcons owner

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, making it the first contest he won’t see in person since he bought the team in 2002.

The Falcons said he will watch the game from home and won’t be on hand at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team added Blank, 79, is fully vaccinated and had a booster shot.

He “is doing well and is in great spirits, experiencing only mild symptoms at this time,” the team said in a news release, adding the “entire Falcons team is fully vaccinated.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 11, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank on the field during the game against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter  at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons owner Arthur Blank donates $17M to civil rights museum

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and his foundation announced plans Thursday for a $17 million grant that will go toward improvements for a downtown civil rights museum.

The donation from the Arthur Blank Family Foundation will benefit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, an Atlanta landmark that opened in 2014.

Most of the money will fund a new, three-story west wing that will include space to educate visitors about lynching. In 2013, the Blank Foundation gave the center a $1.5 million grant for construction.

“The most effective way to make progress together as a community is to shine a light on the issues that exist and to then do something about them so that everyone can feel a sense of understanding and support,” Blank, chairman of the foundation, said in a statement.

“We believe in the power of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to educate, include and transform the whole of the community and this country so that together, we can create tangible, positive change.”

Blank, a billionaire who co-founded Home Depot Inc., bought the Falcons in 2002.

“Arthur Black invested in the idea of an Atlanta-based National Center for Civil and Human Rights more than a decade ago, before we had a building, and has been a champion ever since,” Jill Savitt, CEO of the center, said in a statement.

“This generous gift allows us to expand our vision – to be a national organization working to help people tap their own power to change the world and to live with purpose. We hope Arthur Blank’s leadership investment invites others to join us in promoting fairness and dignity for all.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: Arthur Smith signs on as Falcons coach

Arthur Smith officially signed his contract on Saturday to become the next coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

“We are thrilled to welcome Arthur to Atlanta and introduce him to our city and fans as the Falcons new head coach,” team owner and chairman Arthur Blank said in a team statement. “Throughout our research and interview process, Arthur stood out amongst a very deep and very talented candidate pool with an outstanding plan for our organization to return to the level of competition our fans deserve and expect.”

The team didn’t announce either the contract length or financial terms. He replaces Dan Quinn, who was fired Oct. 11 after an 0-5 start.

Smith, 38, spent 10 seasons on the Tennessee Titans coaching staff — the past two as offensive coordinator. He made the rounds on the interview circuit this month and was asked to interview for all seven NFL head coach openings.

“The Falcons organization stood out to us in this process primarily due to the leadership and support from the top in Arthur Blank,” Smith said. “His actions and core values provide a great model on how to operate for so many, and align with how I plan to move forward in reaching the levels of competition the passionate Atlanta fans so richly deserve. That will all start with the culture we as a team create and thrive in.”

Blank said Smith was the right fit for the organization.

“He has all the characteristics of a strong leader and while his achievements have primarily come on the offensive side of the ball, he has provided a plan that is comprehensive within all three phases of the game,” Blank said. “With Arthur, I am very confident that our process and approach have led us to a dynamic leader for our team and I believe our players, staff, fans and community will be as well.”

In Tennessee, Smith was credited with reviving the career of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and developing an offense around running back Derrick Henry, who ran for a league-leading 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2020.

The Titans finished fourth in the NFL in scoring at 30.7 points per game and won the AFC South. They were eliminated from the playoffs in the wild-card round by the Baltimore Ravens, 20-13.

–Field Level Media