Monday, November 19, 2007

State of the Falcons - Week 11

And to think, I almost missed the masterpiece between the Falcons and the Bucs. But out benevolent owner, Arthur Blank, saved us from the tragedy of yet another TV blackout by forcing asking the Falcons' business partners to purchase the unsold tickets. Thank you, suh. The Falcons fans are so grateful. Instead of enjoying a competitive substitution game, we had to sit through a near blowout of 31-7.

Falcons fans have gone crazy. They booed starter Byron Leftwich and cheered when Joey Harrington was inserted into the game. Who chants for Joey Harrington? Who cheers when 13 runs onto the field? Only the desperate.

Now the Falcons have yet another quarterback controversy, after Coach Petrino promised a healthy Byron Leftwich would be the Falcons starter. Yet after Leftwich's "performance" of 15 of 28 passes for 106 yards and 2 interceptions, Joey is back in the running for starter. Harrington, meanwhile, completed 16-of-20 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown (in garbage time). He said he would no longer contemplate why the starting job was taken from him and would accept whatever Petrino had in store.

Eh, wno cares? The Colts are going to beat the brakes off of the Falcons next week no matter who the quarterback is.

Unless Michael Vick was still around.

Michael Vick was the best quarterback in the world. No, I'm not just saying that out of romantic revisionist wistfulness. It's true. Looking back, I can't remember a single misthrown pass, a single interception, a single bad scramble, a single injury or any bad decisions at all on Michael Vick's part. And there will be no more fanciful tall tales of his adventures in my Falcons recap because he's in jail.
It's really real now. Vick did some bad things, but he did good things too. And I'll be glad to greet him on the other side. Hopefully, on a Sunday afternoon. But any day soon will do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Goodell the Warden?

When Roger Goodell's days as NFL commissioner are over, he may want to consider a career in corrections. He seems to have a knack for herding young men into the correctional system.

While Adam Jones and Michael Vick initially transgressed of their own volition, it is obvious that the scourges of the NFL fear the ultimate judgment of Roger Goodell. So much so that they volunteer to become statistics of the judicial system, even when it may have not been necessary. The men just want to get back on the field. And if that means they have to do a little probation or even a little jail time, so be it.

Pacman Jones' attorney, Manny Arora, freely admitted that staying in the NFL's good graces was priority number one.

While I think we would've been successful at trial, it could've been six months to a year away, and he may have lost another year of eligibility by going forward. In the real world, sometimes you have to make these difficult decisions for what's best for your career, and we didn't want this dragging on any further."

Indeed, the odds were good that Jones would have been successful at trial. The Las Vegas prosecutor weakly charged him with felony coercion. Coercion doesn't have the teeth of assault or some of the more serious accusations the family of Tommy Urbanski might accuse Jones of. So the prosecutor did the best he could. Frankly, a charge of coercion was just indicative that there wasn't much substantial evidence that Pacman's presence at the Las Vegas strip club directly contributed to the serious consequences that befell the victims.

Still, not only was Jones willing to accept a plea in order to appease the NFL, he accepted too much punishment on the lesser charge. Jones ended up pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct - a gross misdemeanor. Yet he accepted a full year of suspended sentence, probation, anger management classes, AND 200 hours of community service. That's pretty excessive compromise for a plea on a misdemeanor charge. But no punishment is greater than being kept of the field. No judge, prosecutor or probation officer needs to be pleased more than Roger Goodell. Apparently, Jones and his legal team thought the plea was worthwhile in that it would put the incident behind Pacman and appease Goodell. And Goodell had to know Jones was working on a plea deal when he refused to reinstate him just days before. The plea wasn't sufficient contrition on that day, but hopefully Jones' plea won't go completely unnoticed when he faces Goodell's judgment again.

And Michael Vick has taken the kowtowing even further. He didn't even gamble on the slim hope that the judge would sentence him to probation instead of jail on December 10. Vick just voluntarily went to jail. So figure a year of official sentence. Take away a couple of months for good behavior and a month in a halfway house... OMG! Vick could be available in the summer of 2008. And that's exactly the circumstance he wants Roger Goodell to have to deal with so that Vick can return to his career as soon as possible. Goodell is also obviously Vick's number one priority.

It's chilling to realize Michael Vick has become a man so desperate he would relinquish his freedom to please Roger Goodell.

The evidence isn't conclusive yet, but sociologists may need to take a look at Goodell as yet another socioeconomic factor increasing chances for young men ending up in the correctional system. It's not Goodell's fault that grown men cross the law, but I hope Goodell has considered that he could opt to let the judicial system be the sole arbiter of punishment. Not to mention the court of public opinion. Men who transgress society will suffer. And I hope Roger Goodell does not sleep easy at night, knowing that he gave a gentle shove to certain men into the correctional system.

I don't see any reason why any man shouldn't have the opportunity to exonerate himself without fear of losing his livelihood forever. I don't worry that men like Jones or Vick will not receive enough punishment, especially not that they deserve Goodell's condemnation. Because in life, what goes around comes around. And when Goodell sleeps easy at night, he should know the same applies to the crooked warden.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Better Late Than Never

Some people have decided to help themselves.

Michael Vick has fired one of the attorneys who has been representing him concerning federal dogfighting charges. Recently filed court records reveal that Daniel Meachum is no longer representing Vick. Mr. Meachum is an attorney from Atlanta. Vick's attorneys from Washington, DC and Virginia remain on the payroll. There has been no additional comment from the Vick camp, so one can only imagine why Meachum was sacked. Maybe he was the weakest link. Maybe Vick is just cutting costs. Still, it can only be heralded as a positive step that Vick is tweaking his team of advisers. Vick has to date compounded the disaster of dogfighting with the mismanagement of his public image, finances and career. Not only are there less cooks in the kitchen as far as Michael's legal team goes, here's hoping the remaining advisers demonstrate an improved ability to counsel Vick through his mess.

And some people are getting help from others.

Gene Upshaw has finally decided to do some work. The NFLPA has decided to appeal the NFL's decision to not grant early reinstatement to Adam "Pacman" Jones. The NFLPA should have protested when the NFL suspended Jones for nebulous reasons 9 games ago. Now they're stuck in the difficult position of backtracking after they've allowed precedent to be set. The NFLPA has not given any specific reason for the sudden interest in Jones. Perhaps Upshaw has recently become familiar with the definition of a union. Maybe he has figured out that the defense of a union member should not be selective or slow. Union members should be defended vigorously and unconditionally by their representatives - whether or not they make it rain. Apparently the union now thinks Jones' punishment is excessive. Pity they didn't foresee this months ago.

Both the scourges of the NFL are getting help with their situations. The holidays must be near.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fashion Round Up - Noticing Those Who Dress To Be Seen

Yes, Choo Choo. Hold your head down in shame. You are a clown, Clinton Portis. Although I applaud your mission to encourage the Redskins to celebrate in the endzone, there was no need to bring the ruffles into this. Or the hair. And you have offended too many cultures to name.

Serena Williams has exponentially improved her styling lately. Her new hair style is fantastic. She even looks sexy in her super short bubble dress.

Yet, sister Venus struggles with the proper execution of her new short hair do. And I hope going out in public without make-up doesn't negatively affect sales of her new Dave & Barry's clothing line.

Jillian Reynolds has finally abandoned her inexplicable obsession with dresses with pockets...

To begin a new obsession with empire waist dresses that are better suited for summer. Everybody sing along. Purple rain, purple rain...

The men on the Fox set have yet to meet a pattern or texture they wouldn't pair together.

Deion's getting old. He shows off his gray chinny chin chin.

Shannon Sharpe is a little bit bold with paisley and stripe pairings.

Daryl Johnston is coordinated in brown from suit to overcoat.

Michael Strahan looks so lonely walking through London alone. At least he has his scarf.

Michael Wilbon randomly steps it up on PTI. The next day he was back to mock turtlenecks. I enjoyed the pocket square while it lasted.

And, finally, it looks like a certain King of Pop wants to take A-Rod's place. You never know... He had hops back in the day. If you can't have championship rings, you might as well have flair... and glittered fielder's gloves.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Falcons Cheerleader vs. Da Brat

Not only is the season going poorly for the Atlanta Falcons on the field, the bad fortune has drifted over to the ladies on the sidelines.

One of the Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders, Shayla Smith, was the victim in an alleged assault at the nightclub Studio 72 by rapper Da Brat. Brat used to be a talented rapper, but nowadays she's mostly known for reality show stints like Surreal Life. Da Brat is accused of hitting Shayla over the head with a broken bottle after an argument ensued.

Shayla worked at the nightclub as a waitress when she wasn't dancing for the Falcons. Da Brat was arrested after the incident and is out on $50,000 bond. Shayla is presumably recovering from her injuries. The Falcons have issued a statement that they are treating the incident as a private, family matter. There is no word on when Shayla will be able to return to the sidelines.

Babineaux Cleared

Animal cruelty charges against Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux have been dropped by suburban Atlanta authorities. In February, Babineaux was charged with killing his girlfriend's pit bull mix. An autopsy concluded that the dog died from blunt force trauma to the head. It was alleged that Babineaux had hit the dog in the head with a hammer after fighting with his girlfriend. However, further investigation could not rule out that the dog died from hitting the wall after being spun around on a leash. The dog had a history of unprovoked attacks and a dog trainer had instructed Babineaux to spin the dog on a leash when it became aggressive. So, it seems Babineaux isn't cruel, just too stupid enough to realize that too much spinning makes you uncontrollably dizzy.

So, I guess I'll need a new double standard to harp on when I complain about Michael Vick. Sigh. Like I don't have enough to do.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

No Love For the Pacman

It didn't really come as a surprise, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declined to reinstate Adam "Pacman" Jones before the season ended. And it's certainly no surprise that Roger Goodell has issued another nonsensical edict. Jared Allen gets to come back from his suspension early. Andy Reid gets to live in a drug emporium. Pacman is forced to sit out a whole year for reasons that were murky in the first place. Goodell is starting to become so inconsistent that he's consistent. So, strangely enough, we all probably expected this outcome for Pacman.

And dare Pacman try to earn a living in his free time. Many pundits mocked Jones' stint in pro wrestling that openly explored his "Pacman" persona. It's been said that Jones' greatest community service during his suspension was giving away free tickets to kids for his wrestling matches. But what level of community service would ever satisfy people that expect a person who has been stripped of his livelihood to not work? Could Pacman have ever done enough to satisfy some people? I never had any problem with Pacman wrestling. Wrestling is a job. And for many reasons, including many of his own doing, Pacman had nothing better to do.

So the Pacman will continue to wait for his chance. The commish said he come back to the facility after the season ends. And the NFL public will wait to see how his story turns out. Perhaps, Pacman will heed the words of his once disgraced Tennessee Titans teammate Albert Hanynesworth.

"It can go either way, that's the way I look at it. It is kind of like the ordeal I had to go through last year (with a five-game suspension) — you can either let it define your career or step up from it and rewrite your own history book."

See you next year, Adam. Hopefully.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

State of the Falcons - Week 9

Actually, I have little idea what went on with the Falcons this week. The Falcons were blacked out this weekend. They couldn't move a paltry 3000 tickets before the deadline and didn't even bother to request an extension from the NFL. And the current Falcoons media guide "claims" to have a season ticket waiting list of over 90,000 people. The lies.

I heard we won 20-16. Warrick Dunn played like it was 2004 and rushed for 100 yards. DeAngela Hall keeps playing for free agency and caught an interception. Then he had the nerve to toss the intercepted ball to Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Punk.

So that's all I know about what's going on with the Falcons this week. I was mercifully watching the "A" game for once. It's been a long time Joe Buck and I have spent a Sunday afternoon together. I've missed him.

Pitiful 4 point win over the stinky 49ers or not, I still maintain that Michael Vick was the best quarterback in the world. No, I'm not just saying that out of romantic revisionist wistfulness. It's true.

And what's Vick been up to? Just life, man. The big bad Wachovia called in the loan on the restaurant and wine store he just opened up in south Atlanta. If you don't live in Atlanta, let me tell you that it is the bourgeois Black man's dream to be at the Camp Creek Marketplace. The failure of that business has to cut deep. Michael is also trying to sell his $6 million home in Atlanta. And I heard that he recently had a new baby, but his baby mama decided to dump him. The brother can not catch a break. It's been hectic for Mike.

Looking back, I can't remember a single misthrown pass, a single interception, a single bad scramble, a single injury or any bad decisions at all on Michael Vick's part. He was perfect. Now he's gone. Halfway through the season, my memory hasn't faded.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Father of the Year

I don't want to hear it.

I don't want to hear Andy Reid's name interchanged with sentiments like "tragedy" or "unfortunate circumstance" or "parent's nightmare" when it comes time to discuss the sentencing of his sons for drug. weapons and vehicular offenses. I want to hear the outrage, not the concern. Not because I don't feel concern for a family who has to endure the indignity of watching two sons be sent off to jail. I just expect the NFL standard. Andy Reid should be judged just as harshly as anyone in the NFL dealing with an embarrassing courtroom appearance or a messy entanglement with illegal drugs.

And the NFL standard is the "face of the franchise" standard. Players are routinely demonized and even run out of the league for the sins of their posses or groupies or hangers on. It's simply a double standard if the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is treated with any less stringency. Indeed, Andy Reid wasn't doing his job today preparing for the Dallas Cowboys while he was sitting in court tending to his family troubles. And, frankly, illegal drugs were found in Coach Reid's home. In fact, the judge labeled his home a "drug emporium" and questioned whether his grown sons should be living there. Britt and Garrett Reid are facing jail time in the culmination of several years effort in abusing and selling narcotics. Presumably, the Philadelphia customers that the Reid sons were dealing to are Iggles fans and deserve some consideration by the NFL. The NFL and the media should extend similar disdain to Andy Reid as the they would to any other member of the shield.

Sal Paolantonio of ESPN characterized the reaction of Philadelphia fans as "shocked" that the judge drew a straight line of responsibility to the parents. According to the proceedings, the Reid children had been abusing and selling drugs for several years. The judge noted that the Reids clearly loved and supported their children and had tried many times over the years to get them help. I believe that. But it's also apparent that the Reids didn't do the best by their children. Andy Reid should be held to the "face of the franchise" standard.

That is, if that's the standard that's going to apply to everybody.