Amid all of the turmoil over the last few weeks, which ultimately ended in the firing of head coach Arthur Smith, Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot has been more like a ghost than a GM. He never made a comment on Smith’s job security, he’s yet to comment on the decision to fire Smith, and he wasn’t even at Monday’s press conference where Arthur Blank and Rich McKay discussed the firing and the future of the organization.
Starting to question if Terry Fontenot is alive https://t.co/c2qmiWmwri
— SportsTalkATL.com (@SportsTalkATL) January 8, 2024
Call me crazy, but the general manager not being around for a press conference discussing the firing of the head coach is extremely abnormal. When asked about Terry Fontenot’s absence, Arthur Blank basically said he was too busy, which is just an absurd answer.
Arthur Blank says Terry Fontenot "Is our general manager and will be heavily involved in the process moving forward."
Fontenot is not present, and Blank says that's because he's working hard in the building right now.
— Will McFadden (@willmcfadden) January 8, 2024
It’s overwhelmingly evident what’s happening in Atlanta. Terry Fontenot may have the title of general manager, but he doesn’t have the same responsibilities as most of the other GMs around the league. He may be consulted during the hiring process of the next head coach, but the decision makers in the building are Arthur Blank and Rich McKay.
Terry Fontenot’s not fielding questions at one of the most pivotal moments in recent franchise history. He will not be making the final call on who will be the next coach in Atlanta, and Blank even stated that Arthur Smith did not even report to Fontenot. He reported to Rich McKay, and the Falcons plan to keep it that way with whoever they hire next.
Rich McKay said Arthur Smith did not report to Terry Fontenot, and moving forward that is the expectation for the next HC. Arthur Blank said both the HC and GM report to Rich McKay.
"(Fontenot's) role is to run the personnel department."
— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) January 8, 2024
For a man who reportedly doesn’t participate in the day-to-day activities of the organization like Rich McKay, he certainly seems to be like the guy pulling all of the strings. To make matters worse, he seems to be getting off scot-free amid all of the turmoil.
If things go right for the Falcons, McKay can sit on his thrown and bask in the glory, but when they go wrong — like they are right now — he claims he’s simply not involved in the day-to-day operations, which is exactly what Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk recently pointed out.
“You (McKay) are part of the problem. McKay falls into that very rare category that is prevalent with a lot of teams where if things go well you’re basking in the glow and if things don’t, ‘Hey, I’m not in football operations, don’t fire me.’ But he’s the guy who’s whispering to Arthur Blank this is what you should do.”
The Falcons are a dumpster fire and the press conference held by Arthur Blank and Rich McKay exemplified just that. Blank can’t help himself when it comes to getting involved in football decisions that he knows little about, and McKay is the real general manager in the building who gets no blame when things go wrong. If I’m Terry Fontenot, I’m starting to wonder what the hell I got myself into.
Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire