The 2013 season could not have gone worse for the Atlanta Falcons, who stumbled out of the gate with an opening-week loss to the New Orleans Saints and finished the year 4-12 after harboring expectations of a fourth straight trip to the postseason.
Understandably, owner Arthur Blank was not happy with how his team performed, even dating back to Week 1, a 23-17 loss in which quarterback Matt Ryan took a questionable hit from New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro.
Early in the first quarter of that game, Ryan was flushed out of the pocket and ran for a handful of yards before he decided to give himself up by sliding. Midway through the slide, Vaccaro crushed a defenseless Ryan, driving his head and shoulder into the chest of Ryan, drawing a flag on the play and sending Ryan to his knees in pain.
Multiple members of the Falcons checked on the status of Ryan, but there was no retaliation for the hit, something that has apparently bothered Blank all offseason, as he revealed in an interview with WCNN-AM radio in Atlanta.
Blank specifically said it still bothered him that no Falcons player went after Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro following a late hit to franchise quarterback Matt Ryan in the 2013 opener.
The Falcons and Saints already have plenty of bad blood between the two sides, and given Blank's public admission, those fireworks aren't likely to let up this season.
Blank reflected on Ryan getting hit by the Saints in 2013 opener. Blank said it still bothers him that other Falcons didn't go after Vaccaro
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 8, 2014