Tag Archives: NFL

Obama vs. Fox News; Limbaugh vs. Sharpton- Important to You?

We interrupt your valid concerns about the Senate Finance Committee vote on healthcare reform, President Obama’s deliberations on Afghanistan, and how to put the country back to work for a couple of stories that got quite a bit of ink over the past 48 hours or so.

On the one hand, it looks like the Obama Administration has taken the gloves off regarding Fox News. White House communications director Anita Dunn was blunt. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

Well, DUH!!!

The administration is just realizing this? Fox had known all along that their bread would be buttered by using their opinion programs to savage this president. In fact, they’ve made hay with Dunn’s remarks, and are just as sure to get a ratings bump as David Letterman was with his sex scandal. The people who watch Fox News expect Obama bashing. That’s a big reason why they watch. An attack by the White House also gives the pouter pigeons (O’Reilly, Beck, et al) at Fox News an inflated sense of their own importance on the public stage. Perhaps it would have been better to deal with them as the enemy in private.

The other story distracting attention from whether we’ll have the public option involves another right wing media blowhard. Rush Limbaugh is part of an ownership group that wants to buy the St. Louis Rams football franchise. Why is anybody’s guess, since the Rams are currently winless. This is the same Limbaugh who disparaged Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb as a product of affirmative action. He also called the NFL, paraphrasing here, like the Crips and Bloods without weapons.

Enter Rev. Al Sharpton, never one to back away from a good public fight. He doesn’t think Limbaugh should own an NFL franchise, and he’s asked for a meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell to express his concerns. He’s been joined by the head of the NFL Players Association, and several current players in asking the league to deny Limbaugh. El Rushbo, in his resp0nse, brings up Sharpton’s involvement in the Tawana Brawley incident of more than 20 years ago, and the media feuding goes back and forth.

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For some people, who owns an NFL team, and stating the obvious about a right wing cable news network may be just as important as whether healthcare reform will afford more Americans access to quality care. Or whether more American kids will die in a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. Or whether our unemployment rate will continue to hover around double digits for the foreseeable future. I don’t happen to be one of them. Is it wrong to say I could care less if Rush Limbaugh owns a losing team? Or even whether the Obama Administration views Fox News as the enemy? You tell me.

NB: I know writing about this stuff makes me seem hypocritical. Sorry.

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Did Michael Vick on 60 Minutes Convince You?

The first word I thought of after watching Michael Vick’s interview on 60 Minutes Sunday night was stoic.

The young man was stoic, unemotional, yet at the same time straight to the point, and quite direct in taking personal responsibility for the actions that led him to a prison cell.

The second thing I thought about was the fact that I didn’t think the conversation with James Brown (CBS Sports) would change many minds, one way or the other.

Michael Vick has his supporters, and for them his was a stellar performance. For his detractors, performance is the operative word. They won’t be convinced by what they saw Sunday that Michael Vick has transformed himself from the guy who oversaw the dogfighting ugliness now so closely associated with his name.

Not knowing Michael Vick personally, I take him at his word that he understands the depravity of dogfighting, and his responsibility to steer young people away from it, as he says the elders in his community didn’t do with him. Yet from the beginning, the most powerful ally Vick has is former NFL coach Tony Dungy. When he speaks of working with young people in prison, his words have a ring of truth no matter what you think of Michael Vick. It’s Tony Dungy, after all, who lost his own son to suicide.

So for Michael Vick, there are second chances. His signing by the Philadelphia Eagles was as much about commerce as altruism , but that’s the nature of professional sports. Animal lovers in Philly may hate what team ownership has done, but if Michael Vick can help his team get to the Super Bowl, it will have been worth the risk.

The risks for Michael Vick, however, are different. Nobody in their right mind thinks he’ll ever get near dogfighting again, but his judgment will be tested in other, more subtle ways. Like when his teammates decide to hang out at that most dangerous place for professional athletes, the strip club. There were reports, since vehemently denied, that he spent his first night out of prison ay a Virginia Beach strip club with NBA star Allen Iverson. Iverson’s agent  said he hadn’t seen Vick since his release, but what happens down the road?

Will he take up with the same group of hangers-on he consorted with when he was with the Atlanta Falcons? The Michael Vick on 60 Minutes Sunday seemed smart enough to avoid such pitfalls, but you never know. Plaxico Burress didn’t seem dumb enough to carry a loaded weapon into a Manhattan club and shoot himself with it, either.

What do you think?

Did Michael Vick convince you he’s sincere?

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Does Michael Vick Matter?

Ordinarily I shy away from blogging about sports. There are more than enough people who seem to live or die by what their favorite team or athlete does or doesn’t do.

Yet over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been asked a bunch of times about Michael Vick, and what I think about his incarceration, suspension, reinstatement, and possible return to football. What’s startling to me is the passion the mere mention of the man’s name engenders, whether the person is a supporter or detractor.

Vick Surrenders Football

There’s really no reason to go over Vick’s dogfighting transgressions here. Right now the media frenzy isn’t over his conditional reinstatement, or even when he’ll play again. It’s who he’ll play for, and that question has become a parlor game in sports media. The coach of a team says he’d like to have Vick on his squad, the the general manager or owner says the exact opposite. It’s great summer theater.

Yet the central question is more about whether he’s deserving of playing football again, and, one expects, earning that multi-million dollar paycheck. On the one hand, you have the Vick supporters, some of whom argue the man has paid his debt to society, and therefore should be able to play immediately. I’ve also heard some people make the argument, “well, they were just dogs”. I take specific issue with that. Cruelty to animals ought not be taken lightly. What Vick did was reprehensible, and one hopes he understands that.

However, the argument that he’s done his time does tend to resonate. Maybe he should have gotten a longer sentence, but he didn’t. Should he be banned from making a living because people still are repulsed by what he did?

michael vicks dog
One of Michael Vick's dogs

I don’t think so, not in this case. There are those who say he hasn’t been publicly contrite, or not contrite enough for them. That’s a tough one. How do you look inside a man’s heart, and determine if he’s really sorry for a wrong?

There is, by the way, something else looming over this entire debate . That would be the world of professional football. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knows only too well that world has more than its share of miscreants, and to keep Michael Vick out of football for too long would invoke comparisons with past discipline meted out to others.

That’s why, on balance, Michael Vick got what he deserved. And he will play football again, not because some team is making a moral judgment one way or the other, but because they need that most precious of commodities, a seasoned quarterback.

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Animal rights groups may protest, but it won’t do any good. I say this as a dog lover myself, one who can’t conceive of the horror Vick inflicted on those animals.

What do you think. Will Michael Vick play in the NFL this season? Should he?

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