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It’s not rocket science

February 17, 2009

Incarcerated dog fight promoter/murderer Michael Vick has been placed on the trading block by the Atlanta Falcons, who still hold his rights but have no interest in using them. Vick’s fines, imprisonment and subsequent bankrMichael Vickuptcy left him unable to repay the prorated bonus money the Falcons believe they’re owed, but as the franchise tries to leave  memories of their former franchise player behind, new GM Thomas Dimitroff is determined to keep “Ron Mexico” out of an Atlanta jersey.

Sadly – very sadly – other teams are seemingly less clear cut about whether or not Vick is the sort of man who should be in the NFL. A flurry of speculation about potential suitors for Vick has erupted, and while credit is due to the Lions (it feels odd just writing that), Jets and Bucs for ruling themselves out of contention, the 49ers, Vikings, and Bears are being talked about in serious circles as trade partners.

We’re sure the teams considering a bid for Vick are trying not to think too hard about his hobbies last time he was in the NFL, and commentators are skating over the nature of Vick’s crimes in order to discuss his potential impact on the field. Treating his potential return as just another horse in the normal merry-go-round of offseason activity is a mistake. If you don’t already know why, have a rummege through any of the multitudinous reports on the Bad Newz Kennels, starting with this one.

I’ll go out on a limb for once and say that those who are enabling a return to the high profile, high pay, and public redemption that will inevitably result if Vick returns to the NFL are making a huge error. While the former Virginia Tech standout is one of the most exciting athletes of the last decade, the league and individual clubs simply should not be providing an implicit endorsement for a man who created and participated in an inhumane system of torturing and killing animals, and went to great lengths to cover it up – including skating very close to perjury when pursued by federal investigators.

It’s not rocket science – while Vick has paid his debt to society, the NFL must be first and foremost concerned with the image of the sport, because the league and teams’ ability to generate revenue depends in part on the (increasingly international) fanbase’s view of the players.  With an increasing number of NFL stars generating news stories by failing to follow basic social and human norms (like not shooting oneself in the leg, Plaxico) the last thing the NFL needs is to publicly redeem its most famous violent outcast.

This is personal too – Commissioner Roger Goodell has made his name with a hard line approach to players who step out of line (Chris Henry, Albert Haynesworth, Pacman et al), and would be risking his own credibility by taking a hypocritical less-than-robust line here. Here’s hoping he goes the whole hog and bars Vick from the game for good.

While Vick is by no means the only gifted athlete who ignores the regular rules of society – and understanding that picking on some players and not others is a risky business – reinstating a man who used to spend his time drowning and hanging dogs for a bit of a laugh is at least one step too far.

(Ultimately, when you’ve made it into the Daily Mail it’s probably game over.)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. distantblues permalink*
    February 18, 2009 2:35 am

    Describing Michael Vick as a ‘bad boy’ is probably the understatement of the decade. I guess OJ was just a bystander caught up in media furore…

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