Former Falcons GM opens up about 'surreal' dismissal: 'I was watching my firing'


Thomas Dimitroff opened up about his recent firing as general manager of the Atlanta Falcons in a compelling and candid interview with veteran NFL scribe Peter King.

Dimitroff, dismissed along with head coach Dan Quinn on Oct. 11, was let go after the team got off to an 0-5 start.

But even despite the rough start to the 2020 season, Dimitroff told King that he didn't see the pink slip coming -- and it came as something of a surprise.

"Well, I would have to be honest and say I wasn't necessarily expecting the timing," Dimitroff said. "That said, this is a win-driven league -- as any sport league is -- and I know it more than ever having been around now 27 years in the NFL and 13 here in Atlanta, that that is something that's odd to be in that spot."

Dimitroff said he's not sure he could pinpoint a time when he lost his grasp on the job.

"I start thinking about when that moment happens -- I've been around football all my life. ... I was born and raised to understand that they don't necessarily hire you to retire you, as a line that Coach Mike Smith used to use, I'll footnote him on that.

"I understand that it's complicated. There's so many levels to it. It's not easy. It is wins, but there's so many levels you could probably discuss ... That said, surreal, uneasy, unexpected -- all those things."

The 54-year-old former Patriots and Browns scout described the moment he saw his dismissal being reported on TV.

"I happened to be sitting down, literally, on my sofa in the morning, returning hundreds of texts ... and I was literally looking up at 'Good Morning Football,' and I was watching, what they say, I was watching my firing so to speak. That's a little odd.

"It was an interesting time," Dimitroff said. "I'm regrouping. I'm in a solid space right now."

Dimitroff, perhaps angling for his next job, was sure to mention he was "loyal" to Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

"My first thought was, 'I understand that ultimately this is about wins. I understand that Dan and I, as head coach and GM, were ultimately loyal to our owner, and that's what you need to be in this league.' You and I both know that.

"I also understand respectfully, and appropriately, Arthur's ultimate loyalty is to the fan base. There is no question about that. Again, I knew as he was delivering the message to us, we were losing the fan base, and Arthur needed to make a move."

Dimitroff's run in Atlanta spanned 12-plus seasons after he took over in 2008. He snagged Matt Ryan to be the face of the franchise with his first draft pick, a move which culminated in the fateful Super Bowl LI appearance against the New England Patriots.

The Falcons reached the playoffs the following season but struggled since then, going 7-9 in both 2018 and '19 before the 0-5 start in '20.

Despite the unfortunate split, Dimitroff says he harbors no hard feelings for the Falcons and is rooting for them.

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