Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Put Me Out of My Misery

Michael Vick is banned from training camp until the NFL completes a review of his federal indictment for dogfighting.

What am I to think of this?

Is the NFL just laying low until Falcons practices go private and/or the NBA scandal evolves into a full blown nuclear meltdown?

Or is the NFL just laying the groundwork, with the blessing of Upshaw the Castrated, for Vick's indefinite suspension?

Did a few dozen PETA protesters really scare the NFL?

Does Arthur Blank need reprieve from making a big boy decision? Still, he has to be irritated that the NFL has essentially impaired his ability to get money back from Michael Vick if he decides to discipline him. Apparently, Vick's contract has a penalty for missing the opening of training camp. Because Vick's hearing is on the first day of training camp, he would automatically be in violation and potentially have to repay the Falcons some of his signing bonus. The NFL has resolved that potential issue in favor of Vick.

There is some good news today. The authorities in Surry County, Virginia decided they wouldn't pile on and press charges against Vick. And Vick hired a competent advocate - Billy Martin. ESPN has convicted Vick already. The NFL isn't sure. Blank isn't sure. Upshaw doesn't have a clue. Billy Martin is an aggressive lawyer. He has defended Jayson Williams and Monica Lewinsky. The signs say Vick isn't going to plead out. At least somebody has his back. Hopefully, Billy Martin will advise Vick to make an appearance this week before his court date. The "perp walk" can't be the first image that the public has seen of you in months. After that, I hope he demands that the Falcons cut Vick and take the salary cap hit, before they put him on some bullshit leave. See, that's where Upshaw's shortcomings become clear. Gene Upshaw's sole purpose at work is to be an advocate for the NFL players. First and foremost, that means he defends the rights of an NFL player to be PAID and to PLAY. PERIOD. Until Donald Fehr is cloned on behalf of the NFL players, hopefully Billy Martin will step up to defend Vick.

And right now it appears Billy Martin might be the only one defending the Falcons faithful. If Vick doesn't play this season, the Falcons season is done before it started. But, if Vick is gone for the indefinite future, we are officially in rebuilding mode. That means not just season but two or three after it - at least.

But, quietly, is Vick really being punished right now? He gets to sit out training camp with full pay! How many other veterans would like to be inside their home theaters catching up on their stories or back episodes of The Meadowlands? Doesn't everybody hate training camp? The NFL Conduct Policy is in such disarray now. Goodell is just making stuff up as he goes now. The indictment only takes about 30 minutes to review. They don't need more time. They just don't know what to do. Hopefully, Billy Martin will have some suggestions.

Arthur Blank speaks at 4 pm. More later.


JJ said...

Why is Upshaw still the Players Association rep? Wasn't his contract recently renewed? Are the players that dumb to really believe he's their guy? If he isn't the best example of a Step-n-Fetchit Negro I don't know who is.

Goodell constantly wants to put the Negroes in his place BUT he is also about making money. Vick equals a lot of money not just for Atlanta but for the league AND dogfighting is a sport that is verypopular in the south with black, brown, and white folk alike.

So to make a big fuss of this (especially b/c of the PETA folks that most southerners view as nutcases) is a sticky situation to say the least.

I think he should play. And I think Blank is going to give everyone a run for their money.

Pacifist Viking said...

Goodell has made his own very messy bed, and now he gets to lie in it. He created a context in which the commissioner arbitrarily makes decisions about suspending players with legal trouble (with or without convictions). If Tagliabue were still commissioner, he'd likely just say "We must wait for the legal process to unfold before implementing any punishment from the league," and while there would still be protesters, he would at least be consistent and would not have such pressure to act. But Goodell has poised himself as the "decider" that is going to clean up the league. So instead of all pressure being on Vick or even on the Falcons to make a decision, pressure is on Goodell. So here he is, in a lose-lose situation, a mess from every possible angle, and instead of it being a mess for Vick and the Falcons, it is the NFL itself that is dragged down into it all.

I feel that in Goodell's efforts to try "clean up" the league's image (before it even seems to need it), Goodell has done the opposite of his intention. He has made players' off-the-field legal trouble a bigger story. It used to be just news; now Goodell has positioned it as a priority, and whenever any player is arrested or charged, there is additional commentary about "What is the league going to do?" Instead of letting the stories go away on their own or come to closure on their own before laying down discipline (as Tagliabue seemed to do relatively successfully), Goodell has created a context in which reporters/fans are forced to talk about the legal troubles more. And this additional atmosphere of discussion creates more pressure for the commissioner to act, even if the better decision would be to wait and let it be the legal system's business rather than the league's.

Goodell is responsible for damaging the reputation of the league, because he has pushed the off-the-field legal troubles of players into the forefront of attention. Before we were mostly content to watch football; now Goodell has forced us to talk about other things.

The HCIC said...

Thanks, PV, for stealing the thunder for my post for later this week. Jerk. :)

JD said...

Billy Martin also defended Bill Campbell who is sitting in jail...?

My Hero Zero said...

I've heard that Vick's defense will be that the whole dog-fighting thing was all Joey Harrington's idea.

Atlanta, meet you're new starting QB...Chris Redman!!!