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Roger Goodell Must Suspend Michael Vick


Michael Vick was indicted Monday, July 17, for allegedly running a dog-fighting syndicate.

I must admit that I have no idea how to start this column. I've been staring at the blinking cursor on my screen for close to two hours now. I tried showering, watching baseball, writing some of the other segments of this article, talking to some friends on instant messenger, eating Doritos and chocolate chip cookies, and attempting to communicate telepathically with my two dogs. One licked herself and the other went to the bathroom on my carpet. Now I need another shower.

There are way too many angles to this story, but one thing remains clear - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needs to suspend Michael Vick for at least a year. If not more.

Like any debate, there are two sides to this argument. The one I'm on believes that Vick shouldn't start another game until he's cleared of all charges. The other, while not condoning Vick's alleged behavior, would use the "innocent until proven guilty" angle. I feel that this argument is flawed, and I plan on using this page to tell you why.

The NFL doesn't abide by federal law. Innocence prior to guilt doesn't fly in the court of public opinion, much less in professional football. Goodell has suspended players prior to conviction, including Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. While neither Pacman nor Tank were first-time offenders, it can be debated that Vick isn't a first-time offender either.

Not a First Offense. As ProFootballTalk.com points out, unlike Pacman and Tank, Vick wasn't indicted for a single crime. Per the site, "[T]his isn't a situation where Mike had too much to drink and blew a 0.08 or higher. That's a 'first offense.' The charges against Vick reflect a blatant and ongoing series of illegal incidents that continued merely because he hadn't gotten caught.

"In our view, the only difference between Vick and Pacman Jones is that Jones periodically was questioned by police and/or arrested. But both have engaged in an ongoing series of misbehavior, and it's easy to conclude that the things that Vick allegedly has done are, when considered together, worse than anything that Pacman ever allegedly did."

Besides conspiracy, Vick could face charges of gambling, tax evasion and animal cruelty. Oh, and he also told Goodell he had no knowledge of this operation. Can Goodell really afford to damage the NFL's image and ruin his own reputation by allowing the troubled quarterback to start a single game in 2007? I sincerely hope not.

Another Perspective. If Vick were a normal person, working 9-5 in an office, what would happen to him if he were indicted on the same charges? Would his boss wait to find out whether he was convicted or not? No! The CEO would fire him immediately! Why should the NFL treat its employees differently than any other organization? If anything, professional football players should be held to a much higher standard because, like it or not, Vick is a role model for millions of children across the country.

Humanity. Forget all the legal jargon for a second, and read what ESPN News had to say on Monday night. They reported that Vick and his friends executed some of the dogs for not performing well in training sessions by electrocuting, hanging, drowning and throwing them against the ground. Hearing that made me gag. If you're not sickened or distraught by what Vick and his slimeball partners did, you don't have a soul. If Vick electrocuted, hanged, drowned or crushed a single canine - which is pretty conservative, given that 17 dog carcasses were found on his property - I don't want him anywhere near an NFL field.

Pure Stupidity. If you're a professional athlete who has a $100 million contract and endorsement deals from Nike, EA Sports and other large corporations, why would you even become involved with something that's not even close to as lucrative as your day job, and could easily destroy your lifestyle and everything you've built over the last seven years? Vick is a complete moron if he engaged in dog-fighting activities.

Even if Vick is somehow completely innocent in terms of executing the dogs and breeding them to fight - which is extremely difficult to believe because all of this took place on his property - he's an idiot for being associated with the scumballs who were in charge of the entire syndicate. I would have no problem if Goodell decided to suspend Vick based on pure stupidity alone.

Please Suspend Him. If you're still hung up on the fact that Goodell can't suspend a first-time offender whose guilt hasn't been proven yet, consider this: It's not written anywhere that Goodell can't kick Vick out of the league for a year or more. The rule states, "Generally, first-time offenders won't be suspended until there is a resolution."

"Generally" is the key word. "Generally" means a DUI or drug charges. "Generally" doesn't mean hanging and electrocuting innocent dogs. "Generally" doesn't mean forcing two dogs to fight until one is laying in its own pool of blood. And "generally" definitely doesn't apply to Michael Vick in this horrific situation.

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More Thoughts on Vick (July 21 entry)


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