The Atlanta Falcons announced on Jan. 9 that Arthur Blank, the Atlanta philanthropist and owner of the team, had tested positive for COVID-19 and would miss the Falcons’ regular-season finale against the New Orleans Saints. In a short statement, the team said Blank was “doing well and is in great spirits, experiencing only mild symptoms at this time.”
According to the team’s statement, this was the first game that the 79-year-old had missed attending in-person since becoming owner.
Blank, who made his fortune as a co-founder of The Home Depot, is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot, according to the statement. Five years ago, he was successfully treated for prostate cancer.
In addition to being an active NFL team owner, Blank also owns the Atlanta United professional soccer team. Much of his recent philanthropic work has concentrated on the Westside of Atlanta, home to Mercedes-Benz stadium, where both of his teams play. Blank is also a major benefactor of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and has allowed the stadium to be used as a vaccination site.
In August 2021, it was announced that the Falcons were the first of the NFL’s 32 teams to be fully vaccinated.
According to the latest statistics from the NFL, over 94 percent of the league’s players have been vaccinated and nearly 100 percent of the staff have had their shots. Nonetheless, 58 players have tested positive over the latest two-week period ending in December, along with some 50 members of the staff.