Arthur Blank Gets a Stab in the Back

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Falcons owner Arthur Blank sounded as though he had just been stabbed in the back today as he discussed
the resignation of coach Bobby Petrino.

Blank said he got a call late last week from Dallas owner Jerry Jones, an Arkansas alumnus, to say the school was interested in talking to Petrino about its coaching vacancy.

Blank said he told Jones the Falcons had no intention of letting the Razorbacks speak with their coach, and general manager Rich McKay confirmed that position in follow-up calls with Jones.

That was followed by a series of meetings over the weekend in which Petrino laid out some areas of concern, and the Falcons thought they had addressed them all. In fact, Blank said he met again with the coach on Monday, just hours before Atlanta's 34-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints, to make sure he wasn't planning to leave.

Blank said Petrino assued him he had a head coach.

Twenty-four hours later, Petrino submitted his resignation, hopped on a plane to Arkansas and signed a deal as Razorbacks coach.

Blank said the best way to describe the feeling is "betrayed."

The Falcons hastily chose secondary coach Emmitt Thomas to run the team on an interim basis for the final three games. He becomes the first black head coach in team history.

Blank said he has no reason to believe that Jones was involved in Petrino's sudden resignation. McKay said NFL tampering rules don't apply to college jobs anyway.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)