I’m not all that surprised that Michael Vick has been indicted in the dogfighting investigation. Once the Feds moved in and took over the case, I had to believe that there was some indication in the evidence already in hand that could implicate a “person of some public renown”. If not, it would not make sense for the Feds to bigfoot their way into a local investigation. Let’s not forget that an indictment is not a finding of guilt; there is still that “little thing” known as a trial to get out of the way.
Nonetheless, in the world of advertising and sponsorship, I’d have to think that this turns Michael Vick into the equivalent of the goo sitting down there in the midst of the buried reactor at Chernobyl. What new sponsor would want to dive into that pool headfirst at the moment? And it will be very interesting to see what NFL Commish, Roger Goodell, does with this one. He has suspended other players without the presence of a conviction on the record. While those players have achieved notoriety for their antisocial behaviors (Pacman Jones for example), none has the star power of a Michael Vick.
Football broadcasters are prone to say that every boneheaded play by a quarterback is the result of “making a bad decision”. Frankly, I find that phraseology a bit tedious and clearly misleading; sorority girls who get drunk at parties make bad decisions if the evening evolves to a point where they get to know – in the Biblical sense – about a dozen or so frat boys. Quarterbacks make bad plays or sometimes they just stink. However, if – remember I said IF – Michael Vick is ultimately convicted here, that would qualify as a quarterback making some bad decisions.
I had a note on my clipboard to make this observation about halfway through the NFL training camp calendar but this indictment makes me think I should write it now. I made a list of three people in the NFL who need to “show up and get the job done” this year more than your average run-of-the-mill NFL person. Here was my list:
1. Joe Gibbs: He’s been back in the league for three years and he’s been under .500 in two of those years. Last year’s team was embarrassingly disorganized on the sidelines during the games and that falls directly under the heading of “poor coaching”. If Gibbs goes under .500 again this year, some folks just might begin to wonder if he really should have been inducted into Canton …
2. Norv Turner: Fifteen years ago, he followed Gibbs in Washington – after one embarrassing season under Richie Pettibone. Turner was less than fully successful there and showed little “fire in the belly” during that stint. Then he had those horrid years in Oakland, which many want to expunge from his record because he had to carry the burden of Al Davis there. Speaking of his “record”, it now stands at 58-82-1; that’s pretty bad. But he took over a team that was 14-2 last year so anything less than 12 wins and then one playoff win ought to be considered a bad year and a black stain on his coaching abilities.
3. Michael Vick: The time for all the excuses is past. It’s time to acknowledge that his highlight reel full of running exploits is a wonderful thing – for a running back or a single-wing tailback. This year he has to show that he can throw the ball far more accurately than he has in any prior season to be worth even half of what he’s being paid.
I wrote those notes before any indictment was handed down in the dogfighting matter. And I stand by my football judgment here regarding Michael Vick. To date, he’s been flawed as a quarterback because he just does not throw the ball accurately. Those aren’t “bad decisions”; those are “wildly inaccurate throws.”
Since I mentioned Norv Turner and his stint with the Raiders above, I need to point out that the Raiders went out and signed Dominic Rhodes as a free agent after he helped the Colts win last year’s Super Bowl. The Raiders’ offense was putrid last year so signing just about any quality offensive player has to be seen as a positive move – - unless that signee gets himself suspended for the first four games of the season. That’s what happened to Rhodes and it happened under the league’s “substance abuse policy”. Rhodes was arrested for speeding and driving while impaired and that triggered the suspension. But the important thing to realize here is that under the “substance abuse policy” – something negotiated into the CBA – a four game suspension does not happen until the third or fourth time a player runs afoul of the “substance abuse policy”. So, Rhodes had to have been “on the list” when the Raiders made him that free agent offer. So, maybe it wasn’t a totally positive move on their part…
The IOC has decided to hold the Winter Games for 2014 in Sochi, Russia. In case you weren’t a geography major, Sochi is on the Black Sea, which is that big body of water that is connected to the Mediterranean Sea by that little bit of water that cuts Turkey into two pieces. The IOC said that Sochi is part of “the Russian Riviera”. I admit that I was not a geography major but I didn’t know Russia had a Riviera. Do Paraguay and Switzerland also have Rivieras?
Recently, I noted that LA Galaxy president, Alexi Lalas, might have gone hyperbolic by saying that David Beckham would be bigger here in the US than Michael Jordan. That brought me criticism – naturally – from the soccer acolytes who are spring-loaded to see the world of US soccer in only the best possible light. Well today, I’ll risk their wrath again by quoting Brad Rock of the Deseret News regarding another of Alexi Lalas’ flights of fancy:
“LA Galaxy president Alexi Lalas comparing MLS with Europe’s Premier League: ‘In England, our league is considered second class, but I honestly believe if you took a helicopter and grabbed a bunch of MLS players and took them to the perceived best league in the world, they wouldn’t miss a beat and the fans wouldn’t notice any drop in quality.’
“And if you took a busload of NFL Europe players and dropped them off at the Super Bowl you wouldn’t notice a difference there either.”
Having mentioned the LA Galaxy, that reminds me that David Beckham has arrived in LA and may actually play in a game for that team sometime soon if he gets over an ankle injury that has produced swelling (according to the team) fully a month after his last game. That’s one serious injury. But that makes me also recall that I read where Brazil and Argentina played in the finals of the Copa America and Brazil won that tournament. Normally, I’d think that any game involving Brazil and Argentina would be an important one, but given the publicity about soccer recently, I guess I ought to conclude that it was a minor exhibition since David Beckham wasn’t even in the stands to watch it.
Finally, Scott Ostler had this observation recently in the San Francisco Chronicle:
“Good news for the Bengals: When just-released linebacker Odell Thurman was accused of kicking and hitting two men in a bar fight, police reports made no mention of illegal use or misuse of dogs, drugs, weapons or women.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…