Monday, July 30, 2007

Preaching to the Choir

Michael Vick has finally made an appearance. Well, an audio appearance, that is.

He appeared on V-103 today. The highlights are as follows:

"Hopefully I'll see y'all again. It remains to be seen, but that's what I'm working on.

I just want to thank all my fans and all my support and all the people that are praying for Mike Vick and are in my corner right now. It's a crisis situation for me, but I'm going to get through it and I feel, by the grace of God, that's the only way. I believe in the outcome at the end, and that's why I put my faith in the man upstairs. It pains me not be down there right now because I know so many people want to see me and I want to be there."

...Hopefully, under the right circumstances, I think it can work. I know I put the city through a lot, my owner, Arthur Blank, who I love, sincerely; I put him through a lot. It hurts me to put him through this situation.

A lot of things would have to be worked out for him to put his faith and trust back in me. But if I had the opportunity, if it wouldn't be a problem, I'd like to come back, under the right circumstances."

It's a smart move for Vick to appear on a radio station known for being a voice for the Black community in Atlanta (it's also the #1 station overall in the market and, for background, the host has also recently faced legal issues). Especially after the protest yesterday. Vick knows the local community is already sympathetic to him. He spoke to people that are ready to listen to him. And Vick is putting pressure squarely on the Falcons. If the team feels like the local fan base is "compromised," it's going to inform future decision they make concerning Vick.

The interview was taped. That is also smart. His lawyers could monitor the comments to make sure they wouldn't incriminate him.

And the interview counters the coverage of the Tony Taylor plea today. One would imagine the news organization will lead with Vick's comments (the good news, then focus on Taylor (the bad news).

I did listen to the audio (I will update the post w/ audio if it becomes available). He sounded calm, relaxed and genuinely aware of the bad situation he has put his various business partners in. He did reiterate the "under the right circumstances" comment as far as coming back to the team. However, he did express remorse about Blank personally, so it's hard to tell how bristled he is about the way the Falcons are treating him.

Overall, the interview was a good move for him. It's about time he made one of those.

Update : The audio is posted on the homepage here.

Vick Has Supporters Too


Pat Forde of ESPN wrote a column last week about the challenges facing the sports commissioners. Tucked deep in the middle of that article before it was changed updated, he pondered whether Black people would turn their back on the NFL over the treatment of Michael Vick.

I don't know if it will come to all of that. But Arthur Blank..



and Nike...



might want to keep an eye on the situation.

A rally was held in support of Michael Vick in front of the Georgia Dome. About 200 people demonstrated on a Sunday afternoon in off and on rain showers to protest against the rush to judgment against Michael Vick in the court of public opinion. That's significantly more people than the few dozen PETA has managed to assemble each time in front of NFL office, Falcons' training camp and the Richmond courthouse.

The protesters' call to arms are perfectly reasonable. Whatever your opinion on Michael Vick or the charges, it doesn't undermine any position to take the "wait and see" approach. Or at least speculate on both sides of his criminal prospects. The coverage has been so negative, it's as if he has one foot in the jailhouse.

And it's the unfair treatment that makes some people start to feel sorry for Michael Vick. Punishing Mike Vick is fine. He deserves to face the consequences for putting his employers and business partners in a precarious situation. Still, the punishment should suit the crime. At some point, it just comes off as piling on. And at some point, the Black community is going to wonder why.

Every American should bristle at the thought of your livelihood being completely stripped without due process. That's why certain people are suddenly looking at Arthur Blank and Nike sideways. It would be one thing for Blank to punish Vick swiftly and fairly, but the Falcons seem to be embarking on a full scale disassociation with Michael Vick before he's been convicted of anything. This coming from someone who held himself out as a friend to Vick, not just an employer. And Vick's merchandising partners are pulling the same suspect "I don't know that Negro" routine.

Of course, it's important for Vick's economic partners to protect their bottom line. But are PETA activists the extent of the bottom line? What about the season ticket holders? Most of the people protesting were wearing Vick merchandise that they purchased from the companies that suddenly think that Vick is enemy #1. Vick jerseys are still available at full price in Atlanta stores. Is it going to eventually cost these various companies involved more to punish Mike Vick than to just let the situation play itself out? How many season tickets have to be cancelled to offset the suite owners that might want to see Vick gone? Who's going to replace Vick's merchandise volume? A balance needs to be struck between all the interests concerning the Vick situation. So far, that is what is missing in the mind of those protesters.

You can have more than one opinion on this Vick's circumstance.

Vick brought this on himself, but he deserves to be treated fairly.

You can love animals, yet still understand that, fundamentally, they are property. (see Larry Smith who said that fighting dogs is worse than raping a woman)

You can love animals and still know that the condemnation of Vick for allegedly fighting dogs is an act of the highest hypocrisy for the faux animal activists who have suddenly emerged all over TV.

You can think Vick broke the law, yet agree that his punishment shouldn't be never ending.

And you can know someone is not your friend and still get along. The protest might be an indication that is the most optimistic prospects for the relationship between the Black community and Arthur Blank/Nike. For now, it's likely a wait and see situation before there is any drastic retaliation. The same courtesy should be extended to Vick.

Pics from the AJC

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fashion Round Up - Alonzo Mourning is a Nice Guy

Every year Alonzo Mourning and his celebrity friends host the Zo's Summer Groove in Miami. Alonzo Mourning Charities have raised more than $6 million for various organizations that aid in the development of children and families living in at-risk situations. Summer Groove is the showcase of his philanthropic efforts.

Dwyane Wade and Alonzo kick it for a good cause. Hopefully, Alonzo had a conversation with Flash about his sudden penchant for lightning bolts. At least this time there's no glitter. Do you know how to get to Wade County though?



I guess it's the yoga and the spinning in the offseason that gives Alonzo Mourning the physique to pull of this ode to the Denver Broncos. Comedian Katt Williams seemingly notices that Zo is a good role model and fashion icon.



But I guess it was too late to adjust this outfit. Ike Turner was his fashion mentor before Alonzo it seems. Maybe next time...



T.I... Scratch that. T.I.P. has forever left a mark on the sports world as the author of "SportsCenter Poppin'". His intensity is the only accessory he needs for his wife beater.



In contrast, rapper Rick Ross has to have everything going on at once.



There was the customary celebrity basketball game.



No lightning bolts in sight as Flash, Gabrielle Union, Alonzo and Tracy Mourning gather for this photo. Those two on the left need to watch it. Whispers are starting about the nature of their relationship.



Finally, the couple responsible for it all, Alonzo and Tracy Mourning. They're just so cute and adorable. They always have been.



Alonzo credits Tracy for his philanthropic enthusiasm. It makes a big difference for athletes when they have a wife like Tracy by their side. Not coincidentally, Alonzo knows how to spend his offseason - doing good, not evil. Alonzo knows the mantra of the "C" word. Repeat after me, knuckleheads. "Charity, not court. Charity, not court..."

Seriously, you can read more about Alonzo's philanthropy here. And you can attend Zo's Summer Groove next year mid-Julyish. It's fabulous and its for the kids.

Thanks to Matt at Fleishman-Hillard for the pics

Friday Fun

Animals are having the best month ever. Pitbulls are getting their day in court. Oscar the Grim Reaper cat is simultaneously comforting the dying and creeping people the hell out.


Not content to let the dramatic chipmunk and all his variations lead the way for rodent like creatures, the Johnson Automotive badger is hot right now (Thanks, Krista). He's surly, but funny. There are a bunch more of these on the youtubes.

The Legal Process Begins for Vick


Michael Vick made his first appearance in court yesterday in connection with federal dogfighting charges. Not surprisingly, Vick entered a "not guilty" plea. Michael's lead attorney Billy Martin made a confident statement declaring their intent to vigorously fight the charges.

There were a few notable developments at the hearing.

The judge ordered Vick to remain in the Richmond area. This is not a highly unusual restriction. However, Vick would need court approval to travel outside of the Richmond area. Obviously, Vick's travel restrictions would complicate any effort to play for the Falcons at home and on the road.

Also, the federal government announced they would introduce a superceding indictment in the coming weeks. It's difficult to speculate on the nature of the new indictment. It could be for the purpose of adding or subtracting conspirators. For example, maybe Vick's cousin Davon Boddie (who lived in the house) finally gets charged. Also, the government could be introducing new charges applicable to some or all of the current defendants. Most likely they would be of a separate nature. For example, a gambling or drug trafficking charge, as those activities frequently go hand in hand with dog fighting enterprises.

Finally, Billy Martin made a statement on behalf of Michael Vick.

"Today in court I pleaded innocent to the allegations made against me. I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name. I respectfully ask all of you to hold your judgment until all of the facts are shown. Above all I would like to say to my mom I'm sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times. It has caused pain to my family and I apologize to my family. I also want to apologize to my Falcon teammates for not being with them at the beginning of spring training."

Personally, I am disappointed that Vick didn't make that himself. Legally, there is absolutely no benefit for Vick to make any statement. However, there is a pragmatic need to balance court in the technical sense and the court of public opinion. Vick has to protect his freedom, but he also needs to protect his image. It's possible to do both.

Also, it's hilarious that Michael Vick didn't apologize to Arthur Blank or the Falcons organization in general. I guess they're not friends anymore. But if you're so-called friends will cast you aside when there's trouble, Blank is barely an upgrade over the "friends" who helped get Vick into the situation he faces now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Venus Shops At American Apparel

Both of the Williams sisters are sexy, if you didn't know. Serena is asstastic and Venus is, well, whatever...



She looks cute though! Venus gets her short short on during a workout at UCLA. Shorts with such a small inseam are highly impractical if you ask me. Just not functional at all. Well... At least not for certain things.

Source

Pacman Finds a Friendly Witness

It seems Adam "Pacman" Jones has found a corroborating witness in the Las Vegas melee. Jones has claimed that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. An employee at Minxx Gentlemen's Club is backing him up.

The unnamed employee has contacted Jones' legal team and is prepared to testify that Pacman did not do anything to spark a melee that preceded a triple shooting in February.

"..the witness told police Jones made no threats to a bouncer and that it was the other way around.

'The bodyguard had a baton and told Adam Jones that he was going to break his knees,' [Jones' attorney] Robinson said."


Pacman's attorney, Worrick Robinson, feels confident that the witness will help in exonerating Jones from the felony coercion charges Jones faces in Las Vegas. "He would have no reason to lie. Adam doesn't know this person," Robinson said.

As of the time of this post, this news had not made the home page of ESPN.com. When Jones recently obtained a moving violation for having bad tags, ESPN considered that front page news. I remain hopeful that this slightly more positive devlopment in Jones' life will be reported with the same enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hypocrisy Abounds

Not much is making sense about the Michael Vick situation.

Jonathan Babineaux is facing five years on a felony animal cruelty charge for killing his girlfriend's pit bull mix puppy and he remains on the Falcons roster. At the press conference yesterday, Rich McKay said that the Falcons are "monitoring that case."

Also, Nike, who suspended the release of Michael Vick's latest shoe has shown a prior interest in fighting dogs. Not from the Peta perspective though. About 20 seconds from the end of this Nike basketball commercial, you can check some pit bulls getting crunk for a fight. Okay to use fighting pits to sell shoes that time, but I guess times have changed.



Hat tip to Krista and Adweek

Maybe Women Shouldn't Own Football Teams


It's clear after the Falcons' press conference today. The Falcons don't plan on standing by Michael Vick as he awaits resolution of federal dogfighing charges. They don't want anything to do with him. The team claims they wanted to suspend Vick for four games. How they contemplate a future where Vick can rejoin the team after missing training camp and four games is beyond me. So, it's clear.

Arthur Blank reacted with his emotions. The possibility of an indictment has been on the table for months. Still, today Blank is "disappointed" in Michael Vick. That's cool if you're getting over a breakup with a dreamy guy. But this is football. It's about wins and losses. I'm a grown woman and I can suck up any embarrassment I have as a fan for the sake of winning. Blank is a girl though. He's wallowing in betrayal like a teenager. The Falcons' stance against Vick makes no rational sense. Defensive Tackle Jonathan Babineaux allegedly killed a puppy with his bare hands and he's still on the roster. Safety Jimmy Williams just caught a marijuana charge. He's still on the roster. Patrick Kearney was injured for most of last season AND had a woman allegedly raped in his home and he wasn't dismissed from the roster before he signed with Seattle.

Blank kept saying over and over in the presser that he told Michael about the people he hung out with and that Vick should focus on his his legal issues. Blank can't tell Vick what to do. He thought he could. Now the Falcons are rebuilding. I think Blank realized just this week that he ain't Michael Vick's goddamn daddy.

Blank couldn't have been making a "football" decision. Maybe it's that time of the month for him?

You can't say out of one side of your mouth that the Vick you read about in the indictment wasn't the Vick you knew and then say out the other side Joey Harrington is your starter for the season. At least talk to me about Daunte Culpepper. Say you're starting the search for the QB of the future by giving DJ Shockley snaps. I only crave a football decision, not a specific reprieve for Vick. This is a team that hasn't had two winning seasons in a row! Yet Rich McKay and Arthur Blank still feel they enjoy the luxury of having a "character" team. Whatever that means.

Like Falcons management isn't culpable... What kind of negligent is the Falcons' management to not know Vick enjoyed a little dog play? Rich McKay said with a straight face that he didn't even realize people indulged in dog fighting. That sort of ignorance on the part of the general manager does a lot to explain the Falcons' receiving core.

The league and the Falcons can't possibly believe that something significant will happen in Vick's legal matter before now and the beginning of the season. That's a scant two months away. They will be lucky to have a discovery hearing between now and then. Unless... They want Vick to plead out and resolve this situation for then. Yeah, that's the move of a "character" organization. Force a guy to sacrifice his freedom to avoid the company embarrassment. A trial happening during the season is possible, but not likely. "Scooter" Libby was tried in the same district court and his indictment to trial journey took about 2 years. Some of the most major convictions of dog fighters have taken from nine months to over two years, even in federal court.

For the record, it doesn't take a superlawyer to glance at this case and reasonably entertain the possibility that Michael Vick can beat the charges. The federal government hastily threw together a case within a couple of months. The "cooperating witnesses" are most certainly criminal scumbags who might easily be discredited. Plus Michael Vick has unlimited resources for his defense, the defense of his accusers and, ahem, maybe financial influence over some potential witnesses.

If the Falcons and/or the league are genuinely worried about the media circus, they could opt to restrict media access if it's that deep. Hanging Vick out to dry - alone - is not the only solution. Just say clearly that you do or do not stand by Vick. Then it's a non story. At least from the "will they or won't they" perspective. ESPN will obsess, but that's what they do. And they're going to do it whether Vick is playing or not. If he was on the field, at least there would be a chance to turn it into a conversation about winning. As for the mainstream media.... Lindsay Lohan just caught a case. Michael Vick is not going to be the lead story generally.

This isn't going to end well. The Falcons are cursed as losers. Blank and his orange apron aren't going to work any magic. Michael Vick will probably find a way to clear himself of the charges and then Falcons management will look like assholes and they will have burned their bridges. I'm not surprised that the Falcons are shunning Vick, but I'm mad as a fan. And if Blank can act like a bitch, I can pout too. I bet the Cincinnati Bengals won't have a half empty stadium this season.

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.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Blind Leading the Blind


When asked what he thought about Michael Vick's current legal predicament, Allen Iverson said Vick should:

"Keep his head up."

See, that's part of the problem. These guys get in trouble. They turn to Tupac songs for guidance. Some people need new reference points.

Emmitt Smith is not a lawyer, but he plays one on ESPN. He says:

"He's the biggest fish in the whole doggone pond right now so they're putting the squeeze on him to get to everyone else."

"Now, granted he might have been to a dogfight a time or two, maybe five times, maybe 20 times, may have bet some money, but he's not the one you're after. He's not the one you're after, he's just the one whose going to take the fall -- publicly."

"Whole Doggone pond." Pun intended.

Odd Place For a Flower

Serena Williams takes it off for Jane Magazine.




Regarding her propensity for nudity, Serena says:

“I’ll take off my shirt in a second - locker room girls don’t have much shame.

Once I was getting ready to go out and my hitting partner, who is my best friend and, like, Greek god - handsome, walked into my hotel room, it wasn’t awkward for me, but he freaked out.

I told him we had to get married.”


Source

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Corrections: ESPY Awards

I will forever be traumatized by the nightmare fuel of Shaq "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Diesel fondling the nether regions of Stuart Scott.



LeBron wore EIGHT outfits, not a mere seven like I previously stated. The overlooked outfit had sequins on it. Yeah...



Also, LeBron James is an affront to dancing.

Jerry Rice did an homage to Crown Royal, but Common pays tribute to Michael Irvin with his crazy tie/neck sash thingie.



Greg Oden's suit fabric was not the same as his shirt fabric. He's a sweetheart, but hopefully he will use that first check to get his grill straight.



Candace Parker is not pictured, but trust me, she looked fine. However, my eagle eye did not spot Shelden Williams. Is Candace available?

Finally, Carmelo Anthony was too fancy for the red carpet with his fancy, fancy cornrows and the fancy, fancy pocket square.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Precedent Supports Due Process in Atlanta

Shockingly, an Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist published an article in support of Michael Vick. I know this was difficult for them to do, so I will acknowledge the effort. Mark Bradley basically acknowledged that the Falcons are in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. He also brought up some interesting situations of current and former Atlanta athletes who found themselves in the legal hot water.

  • Jonathan Babineaux is still on the Falcons roster. Jonathan has an active felony charge for animal cruelty. He allegedly killed his girlfriend's puppy with his own hands. He has not been cut from the team, suspended or placed on any sort of leave. Arthur Blank said the following about his case in February: “There’s this thing called the legal process that’s even above the NFL and sports … [Cutting Babineaux] would be the worst possible thing we could do. It would be a slap in the face to the judicial system. Making the concession of throwing somebody on the fire would be the worst thing for our organization and the worst thing for Atlanta.”

  • Tony Martin was a wide receiver for the Falcons during their Super Bowl season. The Falcons released after he was indicted on federal money-laundering charges (Vick is also the subject of a federal indictment). He was acquitted and wound up catching 67 passes for the Dolphins that fall. Two years later he returned to the Falcons for his final pro season.

  • Rafael Furcal played for the Atlanta Braves in the 2004 division series after having being sentenced, earlier that same day, to three weeks in jail for violating probation. Not many exprssed moral outrage when Furcal hit the home run that won the game.

Joe Horn Wants To Win


ESPN is speculating that the NFL, NFLPA and the Atlanta Falcons are leaning toward urging Michael Vick to take a voluntary leave of absence. Remember, ESPN also said Vick wasn't going to be indicted. So, give ESPN reports as much credibility as you want. But there are actually some factual developments today.

One of the concerns about Michael Vick remaining on the active roster is the effect on the team if the Vick situation was to drag out. Presumably, teammates would be forced to answer questions about Michael and generally suffer negative consequences from having to cope with Vick's circumstances.

Well, wide receiver Joe Horn is voicing his support for Vick.

"Mike is saddened about the tension this is going to cause the team. I assured him I support him, the rest of the guys support him and the team supports him. Whether he's guilty or innocent or whether you believe he is, time will tell.

"No one, I don't care if you're wealthy or poor, no one is immune to the trials and tribulations of life. Everyone who's breathing is going to have to deal with issues in their life. Unfortunately, Mike is up at bat right now."

Horn said he understands NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's right to suspend Vick and the team's option to keep Vick away from team activities, but he doesn't think that would be right or in the best interest of anyone involved.

"Not having him around, that will hurt. I think he should be around. The more he's around his teammates playing football might help Michael Vick. I don't think suspending him is going to help him."

"Michael wants to play football. He told me over and over again, 'I know what's going on and I need to be there playing and go through training camp to try and get through this.'"

Joe just signed with Atlanta, presumably with the expectation of winning. I would guess Joey Harrington wasn't part of that expectation. The rumors are that the Falcons have already decided not to pursue Daunte Culpepper. So, if the Falcons are interested in winning this season and for the prospective future, they have no choice but to figure out a way to work through Vick's situation. Joe Horn and me feel this to be true.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vick Should Remain QB


Just because Michael Vick is a knucklehead, we should all suffer?

I was surprised when Vick was indicted and horrified reading the allegations. But it didn't take me long to decide that I wanted to see Vick on the field this season. Flat out, if Vick is not the quarterback, the season is presumptively tanked. Joey Harrington is not the one.

The NFL is full of manslaughter committing, murder trial having, gun running, marijuana trafficking, drug dealing, drug taking, wife beating, baby mama abusing, bar fight starting, DUI getting, strip club fight starting, pain pill abusing, steroid rage having, cleat stomping assholes. Vick is not the first and he won't be the last NFL player to get into trouble. Michael Vick should not be singled out. If it gets to that, let him pay his debt to society and/or the league and let Ookie back on the field.

There is no way that Vick should be suspended with or without pay before due process takes it course. That would just be an unfair action with total disregard to Vick's presumed innocence. And one idea that has been gaining steam - that Vick should take a leave of absence - should not be considered unless the legal proceedings substantively interfere with Vick's ability to do his job or the situation otherwise becomes untenable. Yeah, they'll be some booing at the games, but it'll settle down. The league has been through this before.

There is no need for Falcons owner Arthur Blank to overreact to the situation. Locally, Vick's current troubles make little difference to the Falcons fans. Vick has long been a divisive presence in Atlanta (for a variety of reasons). So, if you were a Vick detractor, you'll just be a more enthusiastic Vick detractor. If you are a Vick supporter, he needs you more than ever.

Still, the tone of the ESPN coverage on Vick is so somber, it's as if Vick is being held for assassinating the president. The analysts have gone stupid just to paint as dire a picture as possible. This morning, Mike and Mike wondered why Kobe Bryant's endorsers reacted more swiftly against him than Vick's endorsers have. Because Kobe was accused of violently harming a PERSON, not a dog, geniuses. Plus, I assume Nike, maker of leather shoes, could care less about PETA. Also, The NFL Live panel had an entire debate on whether Vick could handle a trial during the season. For some unknown reason, they decided the trial would be occurring in 4 months. Their own analyst, Roger Cossack, said a trial would probably not occur inside a year. Still, they chose a selective "fact" they wanted to run with and ran with it.

Nevertheless, any publicity is good publicity. If Vick stays on the field, the Falcons will be the number one story of the season. If Vick is not on the field, we'll be an afterthought. I bet ALL the networks who have Falcons games this season want Vick on the field. It might not be the kind of publicity Arthur Blank prefers, but it's better than none. The Falcons don't really have any other options.

As a fan, I am not interested in the morality of the players on the field. Judging the relative "goodness" of players is an exercise in futility. I will settle for wins. In that respect, Michael Vick is my best hope.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Update your Vick Jersey

With news that 62% of Falcons fans are ready to throw away their Michael Vick jersey, the need for replacement gear will be huge. Do you know the following #7 jerseys are still available at NFL Shop?

"Ookie"
"ILuvPeta"
"IHrtPits"
"ILuvPits"

As well as some tasteless ones like:

"Rapestand"
"HangDogs"
"WetDogs"

Which #7 jersey can you get away with ordering? Visit the NFL Shop and let me know.

Damn Feds!

Not only did the sneaky ass Feds surprise everybody with the indictment of Michael Vick, they have scheduled Vick's first hearing for July 26 - the first day of training camp. It's at 3:30 pm, so there's no way Vick can practice that day.

Right now, 62% of AJC readers plan to throw away their #7 jerseys.

The Atlanta Falcons message boards are inoperable.

Morning sports talk hosts plead for calm in the stands at home games. Midday sports talk hosts say suspend him with pay. Callers prefer Vick over Harrington. No PETA members have called in yet.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank just got back from Africa and is "huddling" with team and league officials concerning the Vick indictment. Vick is characterized as being "devastated" by the indictment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ookie Might Make a Good Prison Name


Sorry.... That is such an irresponsible title. I'm not in Roger Cossack mode today. He is awesome. I am grieving.

Michael Vick was indicted on charges related to dog fighting. It is only an indictment. He is innocent until proven guilty. Remember that, especially if your heart is still heavy with empathy for the Duke lacrosse players.

Still, let me live blog my reaction to the indictment.

"Ookie?!"

"One alias for herpes, one alias for dog fighting. This Negro is organized!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. He owned the house. That's all you got? Guilt via ownership of property? I need more."

"Oh. He attended some dog fights? Great."

"Shit! He put up the purse?"

"Ookie gave the nod for "termination" of the doggies? Heartless bastard."

"Dogs wet down and electrocuted, hung and thrown against the floor? Yuck."

"Fifteen or so separate incidents of dog fighting amongst the indictees?"

"Perhaps the feds are workin' with something."

It's just dogfighting... but Vick is in serious trouble. No wonder Vick was maintaining military silence on this issue.

It is what it is. It's going to be all Vick, all the time - for a long time. ESPN may have to cancel "Who's Now." Some sick kids may not get to meet their favorite athletes. First up, an arraignment, a mugshot, and maybe a perp walk if God is smiling on the ESPN producers.

How do Atlanta fans feel? Happy that Daunte Culpepper is available. But mostly disappointed. Vick, innocent or guilty, put himself in a position - again - to embarrass the Falcons organization and the fans. Even if Falcons fans can avoid fighting in the stands at the Georgia Dome, it's going to be rough on the road.

The indictment should not interfere with the season. If it gets to trial, it is highly unlikely that a trial date would be set during the season, although Vick might have to attend a handful of hearings. The whole process should take a year or so. But Barry Bonds has been awaiting an indictment for three or so years, so there's no way to predict just how long the matter will stretch out.

Presumably, Vick will plead "not guilty." Then the lawyers will get to work on finding a way to dismiss the case, working on a plea deal and/or preparing Vick's defense for trial. Obviously, they will get to work on discrediting the "cooperating witnesses" referenced in the indictment. It is probably safe to assume they are also in the dog fighting world and maybe they lack the credility to accuse Vick of anything.

Michael may need to be worried about additional charges against him. Remember that the local Virginia officials were pretty slow to the draw to act on this case. Now that the Feds have levied charges, the local officials may feel embarrassed enough to pile on.

The NFL has issued a statement essentially stating that they will wait for due process to take it's course. Nike has done the same. The Falcons are "disappointed" in "one of [their] players". Arthur Blank is put in the awkward position of balancing "innocent until proven guilty" with Vick's continual stream of embarrassing incidents with putting the Falcons in the best position to win. Do the Falcons throw up their hands and go with Joey Harrington right away? Go after Daunte Culpepper? Cut Michael Vick and devastate the salary cap? Sit him with pay and wait for the players union to go nuts? What if Vick stays on the field? If he wins right away, will it be "all good?" If he loses right away, will the Falcons organization have embarrassed themselves by playing him? What will the impact on the other players be? (Honestly, I think Vick will have the typical "it's just dog fighting" stance of many people to thank if his teammates find it easy to support him.) Image versus winning. It's the ultimate conundrum.

As a fan, I think I want Michael Vick on the field. If he has to report for incarceration the day after the Superbowl, so be it. There's no need to overreact to the impact of this indictment. Ray Lewis has endured a murder trial with little consequence. Jamal Lewis and Tank Johnson (prospectively) have played after serving time.

Let me get back into Roger Cossack mode. There's no need to focus on him being suspended by the league, convicted and/or whether or not he's going to spend up to six years in prison. Let's just wait and see. One thing is for sure. This show is going to run long.

Thanks to Larry Brown Sports for the pic.

Some People Just Don't Understand


When I came across Buster Olney's article on the Gary Sheffield/Joe Torre situation, I was struck by how reasonable he was. I was also struck by how ignorant he was.

This statement caught my eye.

But in this case, Sheffield's words about Torre are sharp and vicious, whether he meant them to be or not. It feels like he is slinging around words recklessly -- hurtful words which, when coming from a star player like Sheffield, can label someone for life. You cannot on one hand indicate that Torre treats black players differently than white players, and on the other hand say that he is not a racist. That makes no sense, and it is irresponsible.
Gary flat out said that he didn't think Torre was a racist IN GENERAL. Olney doesn't comprehend. He and others can not comprehend the difference between being an all out racist and treating someone differently. In fact, you can indicate that Torre treats Black players differently than White players without saying he's a racist. It makes perfect sense to me. It's only irresponsible if you don't want to hear the truth.

People treat people differently all the time. It doesn't have to be "black" and "white". Race has nuances of gray. It can be none, some and all of the issue or various combinations thereof. Just because most White men wouldn't date me doesn't mean most White men are hood wearing racists. Just because my White coworker wouldn't invite me to the death metal concert after a work doesn't mean he's a racist. In fact, I don't like death metal and, in part, that's culturally informed. Just because a White friend doesn't invite me to a family function doesn't mean they're racist. Maybe some members of the family are "old fashioned" and it would be more comfortable for everyone if diversity wasn't an issue at the dinner table. Sure, race informs it. But it's not tantamount to being racist. Maybe having females around sometimes spoils the testosterone fun and vice versa. That doesn't mean the person seeking space is sexist either. Fill in the blank with the characteristic of your choice. Sometimes it's just information, but not necessarily the determinative conclusion.

People relate to each other on the basis of race, sex and other singular characteristics, but they also relate to each other on the basis of shared commonality and experiences.

Olney examined some of that in his article. For example, he made an excellent point that Torre puts the most pressure on his best players. Sheffield certainly fits in that category. Perhaps Sheffield is being hypersensitive.

Still, Olney could not comprehend the issue of race being in play. He basically dismissed Sheffield's statement with a "he's entitled to his perspective" analysis. Olney otherwise defended Torre, predictably implementing the ever popular "look at all his Black friends" approach. Further illustrating Olney's discomfort with the subject, Olney simultaneously referred to Derek Jeter as Black and African American. Oley used "Black" to refer to Sheffield's quote, but used "African American" to refer to Jeter himself. That's hilarious, but sad. No wonder Olney isn't comfortable with the subject. He isn't even listening. If someone says they're Black, they're not African-American.

Olney wasn't the only one at ESPN to play duck and cover from the race issue. In Dan Patrick's radio slot, Michael Kay decided to discuss the Sheffield issue. Putting his unfamiliarity and discomfort with the issue of race on blast, he referred to a dictionary definition of "racism." Seriously. Instead of pulling from any of his common sense or, God forbid, personal experience, he used the American Heritage definition. And fully informed with that basis of knowledge, preceded to debate callers and e-mailers who had experience with racism and were, at a minimum, trying to explain Sheffield's position. To add insult to injury, he brought on Darryl Strawberry as the voice of experience. Not that Darryl doesn't have experience, but Kay was smug in having his "one Black friend" come on and speak for him - which he didn't. Strawberry merely said that he loves and respects both Sheffield and Torre and that HIS experience with Torre was positive. He did not disagree with Sheffield. Yet, Michael Kay insisted that Strawberry said Sheffield was wrong. Which Darryl absolutely did not say. Furthermore, Michael Kay dismissed Kenny Lofton's agreement with Sheffield. Suddenly, Lofton is a malcontent when he says something unpopular. And, suddenly, the mainstream media demands more "credible"people to support Sheffield. Like Dwight Gooden? Dwight is Gary's uncle and I don't doubt for a second that Sheffields's statements were informed by Gooden's experience on the Yankees.

The way to challenge Sheffield is not to take a myopic view on racism. I understand what Sheffield is trying to say, but I wish he was more articulate about his feelings. Still, it is tiresome to translate Sheffield's meaning to an audience that isn't even listening.

Pic courtesy of Kristina S.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Perspective

Mike Nifong, the disgraced prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case, was a scapegoat. Not to say he wasn't wrong or unethical or even criminal. However, relative to the conduct of other attorneys in other prominent sports related cases, he is a choir boy.

Do you know how difficult it is to get disbarred? Difficult. Very, very difficult. Most cases of disbarment center around the theft of client's money. Nifong was disbarred mostly for calling the accused, "hooligans." He was also guilty of some inappropriate (but not necessarily malicious) withholding of evidence and maybe the general understaffed and overworked neglect that plagues the realities of working in a prosecutors' office (or typical law practice, for that matter). The defense team had vast resources and used those resources to punish Nifong. It's possible that Nifong was the vile man the defense painted him to be. It's possible that he's not.

Compare Nifong to some other attorneys.

David McDade, the Douglas County prosecutor of the Genarlow Wilson case is currently under fire for potential distribution of child pornography. Nifong engaged in some "sticks and stones" antics, but child pornography? That's bad.

McDade distributed 35 copies of video portraying Genarlow Wilson, 17, engaging in sex with a minor female, 15, to various parties, including media, without even blurring out the faces of the minors involved. McDade says Georgia's open records laws would have compelled the release of the video regardless of his distribution. The federal prosecutor disagrees. The United States prosecutor in Georgia, David Nahmias, issued an opinion that the video constitutes child pornography. Yet, he mildly requested that McDade stop distributing the video - three plus years after the fact. Although even merely viewing child pornography is illegal, McDade is not presently facing disbarment.

A Georgia state senator, Emanuel Jones, has called for McDade's disbarment. Under the "Nifong standard," he should be disbarred a million times.

Troy Ellerman, the attorney who leaked grand jury testimony in the Barry Bonds BALCO matter, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to thirty months in prison.

And he deserves it. Leaking grand jury testimony is also very bad.

Grand jury proceedings are secret and essential to the government's right to investigate. The violation of grand jury secrecy is a violation of the most fundamental of legal principles. It's akin to not reading Miranda rights or not granting a person a jury of their peers. It's not as sexy as insulting some dudes on the word of some stripper, but it's reprehensible nonetheless. Ellerman got what he deserved.

If Mike Nifong's disbarment was deserved, I hope the standard is applied evenly. Too many lawyers play games with the media and the public. If Nifong's shame was a warning to the Nancy Grace's and all the other talking heads alleging to give informed, neutral legal opinions, then his disbarment was the beginning of a positive trend. If not? Just remember to maintain some perspective on the "severity" of his offenses.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

T.O. Tackled By Karma

Recently, Terrell Owens filed suit against a New York nightclub for wrongfully using his valuable name to promote parties. So when it comes time for Terrell to have his own blowout, his name is spelled incorrectly for his own party. You mess with one party promoter, you mess with them all. Osi Umenyiora's name is spelled correctly and Terrell couldn't get two "r's"? Awww... Anyone got an umbrella for TO so he can protect himself from the cloud that's been hovering over him lately?




BTW, the party is for Strike 4 A Cure. Terrell and Osi are setting aside their division rivalry to raise money for HIV and Alzheimer's research. And, of course, the only way to raise money for worthy charities is to party all weekend long. And bowl.

Fashion Round Up - ESPY Awards

I am naive. I thought the NBA Draft was the fashion holy grail. I was wrong. The ESPYs may be the revelation and hallelujah of sports fashion. There's a lot to get to - both good and bad. I've had to make some difficult choices.

Lebron was the host and he's clearly been spending more time shopping than practicing his jump shot. Here's the showstopper. This ensemble is entitled, "My Lebrogative." Note the tassels and the Hammer pants and the Gumby hairdo. Bask in its glory.



The rehearsal outfit wasn't much better. He could have sprung for a legitimate set of capri pants if that's the direction he wanted to go in.



This is actually a sharp bow tie and pinstripe ensemble. But I'm most pleased to know that Lebron and I are both partial to the Nation of Islam in its sports manifestation.



Ummm... if you say so.



Lebron channels the safari via Gucci.



Lebron does resort.



Pinstriped perfection (James, not Kimmel).



Should Lebron be more concerned about projecting himself as a playoff leader or an orange sherbert push up pop?



1 dude, SEVEN oufits. You decide.

Insisting on staying in the limelight, Jerry Rice auditions for "Hot Ghetto Mess." Yes, he's not happy to see you, he has a Crown Royal bag in his pocket. I'm speechless.



Terrell Owens seems fine at first glance. I wish he would lose the jeans, despite his homage to Nick Young. His hand is gleeful and looks okay for receptions.



Then comes the homage to Dwyane Wade. Terrell sees Flash's lightning bolt and raises him a Dallas Cowboy star. I think I'm going to go freeze my eggs now.



Speaking of Dwyane, he looked sharp this time out. He's flexing the "Nick Young" look as well with the white on black look. His tie is made from the same material as his jacket. But we all know how Charles feels about that hat.



More good news. Reggie Bush is perfection. His fashion game is evolving at a rapid pace. He will be turning on the humans soon.



It makes me sad to see the once perfect Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson withered away as a shell of his former self.



Serena is still waiting for Venus to send her a bra from London, but, otherwise, she looks beautiful.



Amanda Beard flaunts her Playboy body, but check out the #1 Playboy MILF here (NSFW and a little slow loading, but worth it. Maybe the best Playboy layout ever).



Maria Sharapova is a naughty girl. She likes leather and she likes lace.



Awwwwwww. Derek Fisher and his wife, Candace.



Brady Quinn and the girl he brought to the NFL Draft. And, still, she's not that cute and Brady's hair is still greasy.



Can someone track this man's hat size? (Free, Barry!!) Otherwise, Vince Carter looks good.



So does Drew Brees. His wife, Brittany, looks smokin' hot here.



Insert your own joke here. Vince Young and Matt Leinart pose like they're at the club. What song do you think is playing in the background? C'mon, Matt. Pose on one knee. Make it authentic.



Janet Gretzky's no Posh, but she's keeping it age appropriate and classy.



Dwight Freeney geeked up? Yeah, he might be.



Some cutie snowboarders (Sarah Bright, Torah Burke and Jamie Anderson) do the short dress thing.



Greg Oden matches his shirt fabric to his suit fabric.



Although Shaq's jacket is as long as her body, Shaunie O'Neal looks lovely.



Latorsha plays her part next to LaDanian Tomlinson's vest.



Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti make another lovely couple.



Lisa Leslie and her husband, Michael, look great too.



Mike Tyson needs love too.



Peyton Manning is undeniable with his customary pocket square and championship ring.



Pat Summitt looks matronly.



Atlanta Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall is all vested up and such, but is in LA without his playbook. I'm going to remember this.



I still love soccer, but Abel Xavier arrived at the red carpet on the short bus.



And, finally, Baron Davis channels Joakim Noah with his seersucker ensemble. Yeah. Still not working.