Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of running an illegal dog-fighting operation and apparently participating in brutally killing a bunch of the poor pooches. Sounds like he’s looking at a minimum year of prison time. I’ve followed the case for awhile now, and I’ve had mixed thoughts about the whole thing. I’m not going to spend too much time on it, its a media circus out there and you can read any number of articles about the whole thing, but here’s my basic conclusion:
Drowning and electrocuting dogs? Not cool. The response from a lot of people when the accusations were first made public? Not cool as well. People were calling into radio shows talking about how Vick should be strung up on a tree and all kinds of other foul nonsense. In terms of his football career, I definitely don’t think its over. He’s still young and one hell of an athlete. Marketability trumps everything in Uncle Sam’s house, and Vick’s got no shortage of market value.
However, its also about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, which brings us to the next thought. I was reading this great article by SF Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto about the whole situation, in which he states:
“If Goodell feels badly put upon by Vick’s decision to lie to him (and you know how commissioners get when their omnipotence is questioned by the labor force), he clearly has it in his power to break Vick financially and professionally.
Power? Oh, yes. By virtue of his simply insisting upon holding the power and nobody’s interest in trying to prevent it, he is now the full vengeful godhead of the National Football League. And whether his interests lie in mollifying the owners, jollying the advertisers, schmoozing the networks, or giving the fans some relax-I’m-on-the-job feelgood, he has seized all the levers of power in ways that the clinically inert [former Commish] Paul Tagliabue never conceived of or wanted.”
So yeah, Goodell has a whole lot of power over Vick, and a whole lot of power over all when you think about the fact that he could financially and professionally break any league player or personnel that gets on his bad side. This got me to thinking about the other commissioners of the big American sports, Bud Selig for baseball and David Stern for basketball (all who are pictured above, along with Goodell and Tagliabue). Don’t they all just seem like a bunch of fuckin douchebags? Between Selig scowling as Barry Bonds tied the all-time home run record and Stern doing everything he can to “discipline” NBA players for whatever he feels like, they just seem like some rich, cranky old grandpa assholes. I guess Goodell’s a little younger but he’ll be there in a few years. Bottom line, these seem like the last type of guys I’d want to sit down and have a beer with while watching the game. We’ll see how Goodell handles this whole Vick situation, but I’ve got a feeling he’s keeping that whole “future profiting off of Michael Vick” idea in the back of his mind.