I have a wide range of stuff on the clipboard for today so the best way to attack the muddle is one item at a time. Steelers’ linebacker, James Harrison, says that he will not join his Super Bowl Champion teammates for the traditional visit to the White House because:
“If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl. So as far as I’m concerned he would have invited Arizona if they had won.”
James Harrison is a really good linebacker. Because he was an undrafted free agent coming out of college, I assume that he did not come out early and that he spent sufficient time in college to use up his eligibility there. On that assumption, I think it is OK to conclude that he majored in neither Logic nor Current Events. Strike another blow for the concept of the “student-athlete”…
Meanwhile, Greg Paulus – who may be a Phi Beta Kappa at Duke for all I know – will transfer to Syracuse to try to play football this Fall since he has used up his basketball eligibility at Duke. I have no problem with this whatsoever. I do want to point out, however, that his college career in basketball followed by this maneuver to play football does make it seem as if “athlete-student” might be a better description for the NCAA to use – - no?
The NBA Lottery was held last night. I like that NBA Lottery more than I do the NFL Draft for a very simple reason; it only takes a couple of minutes and there is no pretense of “pre-Lottery analysis” that stretches out over the two-week period before the drawing. The LA Clippers will pick first this year. Before Clippers’ fans get themselves into too high a state of euphoria, allow me to remind everyone that the last time the Clippers had the overall #1 pick they took Michael Olowakandi and left Dirk Nowitski and Paul Pierce on the board. So, how is that working out?
A new theme park, named Love Land, was supposed to open in Chongqing China in October. The park was going to exhibit items and displays related to the history of sex and it would hold “workshops on sex techniques.” Chinese officials took a closer look and pronounced the not-yet-open theme park as “vulgar, misleading and indicative of a sick mind.” Needless to say, when the authorities in China take a position along those lines, the park will not be opening.
The Guardian’s website offered this possible reason for the conclusion drawn by the Chinese authorities:
“Maybe it was the giant revolving model of a woman’s legs and lower torso, clad only in an unflattering crimson thong, or perhaps it was the oversized replica of a set of genitals.”
You are probably asking yourself what this has to do with sports and why is it in here? Well, one of the NFL owners, Danny Boy Snyder, is currently taking a huge financial bath with his investment in Six Flags. Maybe what he needs to consider is buying up the exhibits planned for Chongqing at pennies on the dollar and changing the motif at Six Flags. Just a thought…
David Whitley did a “Week in Review” column at Fanhouse.com last Sunday. The following are “entries” for last Thursday and a “prediction” for this week:
“Favre visits famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who threatens to suture his mouth shut if Favre doesn’t announce his retirement soon.”
“Prediction for this week: Favre again announces his irrevocable retirement, unless he decides he feels good enough to run in the Belmont.”
An important question everyone needs to try to keep track of is this:
Will ESPN have more stories/features on Brett Favre or Michael Vick between now and the opening of NFL training camps?
Secondarily, try to imagine the paroxysms that would exist amongst ESPN producers if either of the following events were to happen this summer:
Brett Favre sells his farm in Mississippi and moves to a house two blocks away from where Michael Vick is serving out his sentence. The two of them play catch in Vick’s front yard – - remember, he cannot leave home except to go to work – - every evening.
Allen Iverson goes home to Hampton, Virginia and joins the two of these guys in the evening “throw arounds”. Once Vick is allowed to leave home, the three of them arrange touch football games with local high school kids.
Here is my position on Michael Vick and his reinstatement by the NFL as an eligible player. What Michael Vick did was heinous and revolting; the legal system of the US worked its will and Michael Vick served his time. That does not excuse what he did but it does mean that he and US society as represented by the legal system are now square. By the standards of everyone else in society, he should be free to try to make a living doing what he is competent to do.
The question for Michael Vick is this: Can an NFL team/owner employ Michael Vick in light of the vitriol that continues to exist in the general public? On one hand, NFL teams need to sign competent players and Vick is certainly superior to some folks who will be on NFL rosters starting this September. On the other hand, NFL teams have to maintain a positive relationship with the fans who buy their tickets, buy their paraphernalia and watch them on TV. [Aside: NFL coaches also hate “distractions” and there are no circumstances under which Michael Vick would not generate “distractions” for a team this summer.] At the moment, it is not clear how all of this might balance out in the case of any specific team.
Here is something I am certain about. Michael Vick would not be the first convicted miscreant to be allowed back into sports after serving time for a pretty awful crime. Two examples leap to mind:
Leonard Little was driving while intoxicated and he struck and killed a woman. Little served his time and as I recall the NFL suspended him for part of the following season before allowing him to return to the St. Louis Rams where he remains on the depth chart as of this morning.
Mike Tyson returned to boxing after a conviction for rape and a few years in jail.
As I said above, what Michael Vick did was heinous and revolting. Nonetheless, look at these two precedents before deciding that there is no way he will ever be allowed back in the NFL.
Finally, Greg Cote had this comment in the Miami Herald that is related to the hoopla that will surely swirl around Michael Vick this summer:
“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked the pop group Pet Shop Boys to change its name to Rescue Shelter Boys. Seriously. But that’s only because PETA couldn’t come up with an even more ridiculous, embarrassing publicity stunt.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…