Evidently, being contrite is good for the soul. In the case of apologetic Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, it's also good for the all-important bottom line.
In an open letter to Falcons fans in a full-page ad in Tuesday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Blank said he also was troubled by the Falcons' 1-6 record in the absence of injured quarterback Michael Vick.
Blank didn't offer a money-back guarantee to unhappy season-ticket holders who helped sell out the Georgia Dome this year, but that wasn't necessary. By addressing Falcons fans personally, he showed them he doesn't want to lose their business and that he cares about improving the product.
Maybe Blank's very public apology will spark a new trend in sports confessionals. We like it when someone rich and famous brings themselves down to our level by making an apology.
Here are some other public apologies from famous sports figures I'd like to see.
Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch: “Wow. I never thought it would come to this. I'm so sorry. Losing 119 games in a season changes a man. I feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. Just to show you it's not all about dollars and cents with me, I'm going to invest serious dollars in the farm system and free agency and I'm going to stop nickel-and-diming players during contract negotiations.”
Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett: “Yeah, my teammates miss me, but I miss them, too. I miss playing football. I miss the roar of the crowd and the feeling I get when I score a touchdown. Oh, well. No sense looking back. I look forward. But before I do, I wish things had turned out differently. I wish when I first got to Ohio State I had acted more like a regular college student and less like a prima donna. But I can't blame what happened to me on anyone but myself. Life's funny that way. I guess if I want to be treated like a man, I should act like one and be willing to accept the consequences.”
OSU coach Jim Tressel: “I wish I had been harder on Maurice Clarett. I should have put my foot down more. If I had, maybe he would still be playing for the Buckeyes and I wouldn't be answering all these questions about our running game.”
Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez: “Believe me, if I had known Don Zimmer was 72 years old, I wouldn't have acted like a bullfighter and tossed him to the ground. Hey, I've got a father, too.
“If I had it to do again, I would have just grabbed the old man and held on. And I wouldn't have nicked Karim Garcia in the back with a pitch. That was stupid. So was yelling at Jorge Posada and pointing at my head like I was going to do the same thing to him. I wish I could take back everything I did that day, including not holding onto the lead. Sure, I hate the Yankees, but that doesn't mean I want to hurt any of their players.”
Detroit Lions president Matt Millen: “Yeah, I was wrong about Marty Mornhinweg. Boy, was I wrong. Hiring Marty set the organization back five years.
“If people only knew, heck, if I only knew, how hard it is to run a pro football team. Learning the salary cap is trickier than learning Bill Walsh's playbook. The trick is - and I had to learn this the hard way - not acting like you have all the answers your first day on the job. I still don't have all the answers.”