While I’m not a big NFL fan [when I watch 4-down football I much prefer the college game] I have to admit I have become increasingly interested in following the fortunes of the Atlanta Falcons. So the finish of the NFC Championship game yesterday was disappointing. But the job that former Gryphon Thomas Dimitroff Jr [1985-1989] has done to rebuild the Falcons is still amazing.
If I had forgotten how disfunctional an organization the Falcons were before Dimitroff took over, a story in Saturday’s Hamilton Spectator reminded me. It focused on the teams longest serving player, center Todd McClure. Things had gotten so bad under the previous regime that …
McClure was seriously considering retirement during the dismal 2007 season, when Vick was busted for dogfighting and Bobby Petrino proved to be completely ill-suited for coaching in the NFL. Petrino didn’t even make it through the year, bolting back to the college ranks with three games to go, and that cleared the way for McClure to return.
There was no way he was going to play another year under Petrino, who demanded silence during team meals and barely acknowledged his players when he passed them in the hall.
“I hated getting in my car and coming to work every morning,” McClure said. “It just wasn’t any fun. I’ve never seen anything like it. In this game, if you can’t have fun coming up here to work and hanging out with the guys, it can be brutal.
Back in 2011 Dimitroff outlined in his speech at the initial Gryphon Gala Dinner how he had gone about changing the organizational culture in Atlanta. And he detailed how much of what shaped his approach he had learned as a ball boy for his father’s Gryphon teams, then as a Gryphon player. Dimitroff’s approach earned him NFL Executive of the Year honours in 2008 and 2010. He has turned the expectations in Atlanta around so far that not making the Super Bowl is now a disappointment.
Dimitroff is expected to be back in Guelph for this year’s Friends of Gryphon Football Gala Dinner which will be held at the Delta Hotel on Saturday, May 11.