Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank admitted that he was upset about Robert Kraft's decision to order 283 diamonds for the New England Patriots' Super Bowl rings, but Blank holds no grudges against the Patriots owner and played the story off as old news.
A comprehensive New York Times article regarding the state of the NFL included a brief reference to Blank's comments about Kraft's jewelry selection, which was an obvious jab at the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in a 34-28 overtime loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. The New York Times story coincided with this year's Super Bowl between the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
"I said to Robert, 'You didn't have to do the 28-3 in the ring,'" Blank told the Times in the story. "It kind of pissed me off."
Blank followed up on those thoughts during a phone interview with ESPN on Friday afternoon.
"That was a year old. I don't even know where that came from," Blank said. "Robert's my closest friend as an owner. We compete. We work very closely together. I love Robert; he loves me. We're great partners.
"I didn't like that [ring choice] particularly, but I talked to him about it a year ago. It's like old history right now. I'm not sure why it was brought up now."
Blank insisted the various references to 28-3, including the Patriots leaving the score on the scoreboard during their season-opening ceremony, are not used as fuel as the Falcons try to get back to the Super Bowl.
"It's not fuel, to answer your question," Blank said. "The fuel is we want to wear a ring. That's our goal. It's not getting back at somebody. It's not revenge. It's none of those things."
Blank believes the Falcons are "close" to winning a title. He feels good about the direction of the franchise under coach Dan Quinn.
With Atlanta hosting next year's Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Blank and the Falcons have a chance to be the first franchise to play in the Super Bowl in its own stadium.