Blank asks Vick not to blame Mora for dad's remarks

Updated: November 26, 2006, 6:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

After Jim Mora Sr. referred to Michael Vick as a "coach killer," in a radio interview, Falcons owner Arthur Blank went into damage-control mode with his star quarterback.

Blank met with Vick on Friday and asked him not to hold the son accountable for the father's words, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported.

Michael Vick
Vick

Vick said Wednesday that he shut off his cell phone because he was getting so many calls about comments made by Mora's father, a former NFL coach himself who shares the same name with his son.

"Honestly, I don't even know what to say," Vick said. "I think it was inappropriate. But, hey, when you're commentating, I guess you've got a right to say what you want to say. I just keep playing football. At the same time, it's crazy."

Earlier this week, during his show on Fox Sports Radio, the elder Mora agreed with the co-host's description of Vick as a "coach killer."

"It worries me a little bit because my son is the head coach down there," Mora added. "But he's a great athlete, my son likes him a lot, he's a good kid. But he's not a passer. And you need a passer at quarterback to be successful consistently in the National Football League. And he ain't getting it done in that category."

The younger Mora said he's spoken with his father about the statement -- "he regrets it" -- and went to great lengths to show that he's still got faith in his quarterback, despite heading into Sunday with a three-game losing streak that has severely hurt the Falcons' playoff hopes.

"I'm a huge Mike Vick fan. I always have been," the coach said. "I love the guy. He's a great player and I think he's a better person. I don't care what anybody says about Mike. If I was starting a franchise and I could pick one guy all-time, I would pick Mike Vick. That's how I feel about it."

But Vick hasn't performed like a franchise player over the last three weeks, completing less than 50 percent of his throws (44 of 93) with more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). In addition, he's lost two crucial fumbles without being hit by the defense -- the first leading to a touchdown in a loss to Detroit, the second ruining hopes of pulling off a comeback win against Cleveland.

Things didn't get any better for Vick or the Falcons on Sunday. As the quarterback left the field to a chorus of boos following Atlanta's 31-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, cameras twice caught Vick giving the finger to the Georgia Dome crowd before entering the tunnel to the locker room.

"I'm out there fighting for my team … trying to win a football game," said a frustrated Vick after the game. "People can say what they want to say … I give 100 percent every time I step on the field. Guys in the locker room too."

In the game, Vick challenged his NFL record for yards rushing by a quarterback, coming up 7 short of his 173-yard performance in an overtime victory at Minnesota in 2002. But the Falcons' passing game was a mess, as Vick finished 9-of-24 for 84 yards.

The Saints swept the season series with Atlanta by a combined score of 54-16, having also won easily in Week 3 -- the team's first game back in the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina.

With the loss to their NFC South rival, the Falcons fell to 5-6 and now sit two games behind New Orleans and one game behind Carolina, who also lost Sunday.

Vick and his coach met to discuss the elder Mora's comments, but it was apparent this bit of criticism stung a little more than normal. Quarterbacks -- especially someone as high profile as Vick -- are used to getting criticized by the media; they aren't accustomed to hearing harsh words from the coach's father.

"It's a different situation," Vick said, shaking his head. "I'm speechless about it. I never thought he would say it, but it must be the way he feels."

Vick's teammates insist that he's still feeling plenty of love in the locker room, despite the team's recent woes and the prospect of another second-half collapse like the one that knocked the Falcons out of the playoffs in 2005.

"We're not letting that type of stuff seep inside here," linebacker Ike Reese said. "We know what Mike means to us as a ballclub. I thought coach Mora handled it well. We're not going to let any comments -- regardless of who it's from -- penetrate our family."

Running back Warrick Dunn said he's always had plenty of respect for Mora's father, but "it was strange that he said that."

"When you're a quarterback, you're going to have that pressure," Dunn added. "It just comes with the territory a little bit. Mike is going to be fine. He's not really worried about all that stuff."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.