Falcons won't let offensive linemen talk

Posted Nov 3, 2005

Shame on coach Jim Mora for defending the team's nonsensical offensive line policy - which offers local reporters one spokesman per week to answer questions on behalf of the entire line - as a reason for the franchise's inability to put together consecutive winning seasons.

Mora crossed the line of decency Wednesday when he dragged former stars Jeff Van Note and Mike Kenn, who between them earned 11 Pro Bowl invitations, into the Falcons' skewed logic.

"Were they good talkers? How were their teams? Pretty good?" Mora asked rhetorically. "My point exactly. Seriously, this place never had two winning seasons in a row. Who cares what they had to say? No offense to them. It's the facts. They're great guys, nominated for the Hall of Fame, but it's about winning."

Van Note played a club-record 18 seasons for the Falcons and advanced to the playoffs three times. Kenn's career lasted 17 years. He played in the postseason four times.

Both helped Atlanta enjoy the 12-4 thrill of 1980, the team's best season before Dan Reeves coached the Falcons to the Super Bowl 18 years later. To this day, Kenn and Van Note are both gentlemen who are respected in the community and appreciated for their integrity.

Mora can defend the team's institution of this policy, which also managed to take hold in Denver during line coach Alex Gibbs' tenure there, but no team employee wants to explain why quarterbacks, running backs or linebackers talk to reporters every day.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also took a weaker stance in allowing Jim Mora to couch his comments later in the day while adding that he called Kenn and Van Note to clarify his comments.

There are two reasons that Atlanta failed to place an offensive lineman on the Pro Bowl last season despite leading the NFL in rushing for the first time in franchise history. One was Michael Vick's inordinate number of sacks, a problem that belonged as much to him and his receivers as failures in the protections.

The other was Atlanta's ridiculous policy that prohibits linemen from speaking for themselves. Until Mora wins a Lombardi Trophy or advances a team to one Super Bowl, he should take the proverbial high road if the policy remains intact.

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