No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Problem Like Michael Vick

The NFL has asked Michael Vick not to come to the Falcon's training camp next week. Just as well, really, since he'll be a bit busy on the day camp opens. That's the day he'll be in a Richmond, Virginia courtroom to be arrained on a slew of charges related to dog-fighting ring he allegedly ran from one of his properties.

The charges, if you have the stomach to read them all, are lurid and disgusting. Any who has ever had a pet - even if, like me, they don't care much for dogs as a rule - will be repulsed by the accusations. They suggest a level of cruelty and disregard for suffering that is just plain shocking.

What the NFL wouldn't give for a record-breaking steroid user right about now.

While baseball grapples with the sins of its past in the way of steroids, and basketball faces news of possible points-shaving by a former referee, football is facing the biggest personnel problem short of having one its all-time greats on trial for murder.

The last year has been murder for the NFL. With every month of the season came new charges of assault, weapons possession, drugs -and that's just the Cincinnati Bengals. The number of arrests and accusations during last season got so bad that commissioner Roger Goodell instituted the new Personal Conduct Policy. It's under this policy that the league has suspended Pacman Jones for the entire 2007 season. Chris Henry and Tank Johnson got eight games each.

It's a tricky thing. Vick hasn't been convicted a thing - though if I'm remembering correctly, Jones, Henry and Johnson haven't been convicted, just yet, either. But none of them - even with Jones' genuine talents as a DB - present the problem that Vick does.

Vick is prodigiously talented. When he joined the league, many speculated he would change the game - a player taking a position to a whole new level just as Bobby Orr transformed our understanding of what it meant to play defence in the NHL. Ridiculously fast, with the cornering ability of a running back, Vick was a new breed a quarterback - or possibly just Kordell Stewart 2.0. Seven years later, Vick is still more famous for his potential than for what he has delivered. And just what has he delivered? Lots of spectacular plays. Lots of injuries. An embarrassing mishaps with airport security. No championships. And now this.

This isn't a role player, even on a championship team. This isn't a young star in the making. This is one of biggest names in the league. And he's now associated with a reprehensible, criminal lifestyle. Which is probably why Goodell is wishing he had a Barry Bonds problem instead.

Expect to see a lot of Joey Harrington at QB in Atlanta this fall.

Update: Many columnists, including those in Atlanta, are now suggesting that Vick will never play another game for the Falcons, and possibly for anyone else either. Can't help thinking if he'd played a little better over the past 7 years, he'd have an easier time keeping that job. Just ask Ray Lewis.


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