LAWFUEL – By David Steele. In the past month or so, a lot of people have said or written that this Michael Vick mess, coming at the end of more than a year of raging player misconduct, is enough to make them swear off the NFL for good.
It didn’t seem possible, not for the Nonstick Football League. Swearing off Vick was one thing, but not swearing off America’s favorite sports league. Yet with accusations as heinous as this, it was worth giving the benefit of the doubt.
Not anymore. Long live the NSFL! And so long, Mike, see you in another life, or career.
Late last week, commissioner Roger Goodell, while at the Detroit Lions’ training camp, said of the Vick affair: “I don’t think it’s overshadowing the season. I think our fans are excited about football, but I understand the interest in the story.”
The comments were ripped straight from Chapter 1 of the Universal Commissioners’ Textbook, repeated in various formats by every league boss in history when scandal breaks.
In this case, though, Goodell had evidence to back him up.
The fury of the nation has turned on Vick, and the NFL has completely eluded the heat. Right in the middle of the daily updates on Vick and his ready-to-snitch co-defendants, fans were slobbering over the start of the preseason schedule – or, more accurately, accelerating the slobbering that began as the opening of training camps approached.
Atlanta, Vick’s NFL home for the time being, is the burning-hot exception; with all the football and societal factors involved, the city might never stop engaging in this. Elsewhere, though, the NFL’s offseason of discontent was reduced to a bunch of Pacman, Tank and Bengals punch lines.
And now, as we wrap up preseason Week 2, you can barely keep an argument about the personal conduct policy, or the concussion problem, or the war between the union and retired players, going for more than a couple of minutes. Not while scrutinizing how the first-team offenses and defenses performed in their one series per game.
Think anyone at M&T Bank Stadium tonight had to fight the urge to boycott the Ravens-New York Giants game because of Michael Vick?
It’s business as usual. Nobody is holding the NFL responsible for the nefarious actions of so many. Not even Vick, even though you’d have to have extra-thick blinders on to believe that he’s the only player rubbing up against the dogfighting culture.