Vick's Guilty Plea: Will Atlanta Falcons Take "Big" Hit?

Next week, Michael Vick will plead guilty for his connection with crimes related to dogfighting. It’s not known how long he’ll go to jail for or what the NFL will do, but I will say this, how bad of a hit the Atlanta Falcons take financially will totally be dependent on how well they can do on the field over the next 3 to 5 seasons.

Despite what people say, believe this: The Atlanta Falconswill sell out every game this year. If fans choose not to go, others--who are part of the thousands on the season ticket waiting list--will come in and fill in the gap.

Listen, the bottom line is fans are fans--and fans are all about winning. True, Michael Vick was flashy and owner Arthur Blank really cares about the team. But without the “W’s,” Blank would have little to sell. The reason people didn’t go to Falcons games before Vick arrived, is because from 1980-2000, the Falcons only had five winning seasons.

What makes things worse here is that Vick was definitely the franchise player and the team of course traded away their backup quarterback Matt Schaubto the Houston Texans.

With Joey Harringtonnow at the helm, let’s say the Falcons will win five games this year. If somehow they can win seven in the 2008-09 season and get back to winning ways the following season, I predict the Falcons won’t see a huge hit from this.

If this is part of a slide that welcomes the Falcons back to their losing ways, Blank will see tens of millions of dollars in losses from unrealized sponsorship deals and empty seats. Unlike any other pro sport, Blank can’t possibly lose enough. When he wants to sell the team, he will still make a nice profit on the $545 million investment he made in the team in 2002.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com