NFL Comings and Goings

The 2009 NFL Season is almost upon us, and there is plenty of off-season activity that merits coverage.

Before getting to the NFL, my touch football team “Slamathon” won 30-6.” Playing on a hobbled foot, I had a pair of receptions. First Jack Youngblood played in the Super Bowl on a broken leg, and then I had my game yesterday. If my leg is still functional today, I will play in my Noon kickball game. Either way, I will attend the 1pm post game barbecue. Yes, I am an athlete.

Now onto other profiles in courage, the gridiron warriors of the NFL.

One story involves Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. I am going to avoid commenting directly on the allegations against him until more facts come in. What we do know is that he has been accused of rape by a hotel employee.

On the football field, Roethlisberger has performed very well, winning a pair of Super Bowls in only five years. Yet this alleged incident in the hotel room is an eerie example of history mildly repeating itself.

In 2005, Big Ben led the Steelers to a championship. Yet in the offseason, he engaged in reckless behavior. A motorcycle accident nearly took his life. His survival was miraculous, but his performance on the field was spectacularly unspectacular, as the Steelers missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

In 2008, Big Ben again led the Steelers to a championship. Again, in the offseason, a cloud hangs over Pittsburgh just before the start of the season. However, again, we do not know the truth. Roethlisberger is defiantly maintaining his innocence.

The other part of Pennsylvania has been the sight of tragedy and resilience. The Eagles have had some awful distractions the past couple of seasons. Andy Reid had to endure the nightmare of seeing two of his sons arrested. Donovan McNabb was nearly run out of town. Yet the Eagles barely snuck into the playoffs at 9-7 when four different teams ahead of them all lost. All they did was nearly reach the Super Bowl.

This offseason features the departure of Jim Johnson, the long time Defensive Coordinator of the Eagles. At age 68, Johnson is battling cancer. He may return to the team if he gets better, but my prayers are with his entire family.

(Tragic Update: Jim Johnson has died. All of Philadelphia should have their flags at half staff. Farewell, Mr. Happy Green Blitzer.)

(Also, do not let time allow us to forget Steve McNair. Farewell Great Titan. Former Browns Coach Sam Rutigliano said best. “Death is hard to accept. Everything else is an inconvenience.)

Johnson is considered one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the NFL along with Monte Kiffin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Well Monte Kiffin has followed his son Lane to the University of Tennessee. The Buccaneers began last year 9-3, before losing all four games down the stretch to miss the playoffs and end the Jon Gruden era in Tampa.

As for Gruden, he is joining Ron Jaworski in the Monday Night Football booth. Tony Kornheiser is no longer part of MNF, which means the program will be much better.

Another team to watch is the Indianapolis Colts. Tony Dungy, one of the all time good human beings on this planet, has retired to spend more time with his ministerial activities. He counsels young prisoners, showing them that there is life after prison. One such man that Coach Dungy is mentoring is Michael Vick.

As many beyond the football world knows, Michael Vick self-destructed. When he entered the league, he had the potential to be the greatest quarterback to ever pick up a football. His jersey was the top selling NFL item. One year he got injured in preseason, and the team went 2-10 without him. When he returned in the thirteenth game, the stadium was packed to capacity.

After reaching the NFC Title Game, Vick regressed. Perhaps it was being boxed into the dink and dunk frustration of the West Coast Offense, a terrible fit for his abilities. This is what happens when defensive minded coaches try to micromanage quarterbacks.

Yet what followed next in Vick’s career was unfathomable. He was caught running a dogfighting ring. The evidence was piled high and deep. The activities were barbaric. Michael Vick was headed to jail for two years.

Michael Vick disgraced the game of football. He lied to Commissioner Roger Goodell before getting caught. Now Commissioner Goodell has to decide whether or not Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL again.

I think Vick should be allowed to return. His criminal acts were vile, and he was punished for them. He has served his time. Some may feel that he should not be allowed to earn millions of dollars playing a game. However, envy is not the criteria for what happens next. Vick should be allowed to compete for a job.

This does not mean he will get back to where he was. Many teams will avoid him as a pariah. However, only one team needs to say yes.

There is no law that says a person get a lifetime ban from their career of choice due to a stint in prison.

Most of the people who will protest are people that do not watch football anyway.

Michael Vick will return, and this would be proper based on our society of laws.

(Update: Vick has been given a “conditional return.” He will be allowed to practice, play in the final two games of the preseason, and return as late as Week 6 in the regular season. Roger Goodell found a perfect balance that protects the integrity of the league and shows human compassion regarding redemption.)

On the subject of comebacks, any day now Brett Favre will make his decision on whether to join the Vikings. Call him Hamlet, but I hope he returns and plays well. Watching # 4 play the Packers will be pure theatre.

(Sad update: # 4 has decided to stay retired. I still think he will be back. Like me, he can’t walk away. Mowing the lawn and taking out the trash is not that exciting. Believe me, I know.)

The 2009 season will be unique. For one year only, the Pro Bowl will be the week before the Super Bowl instead of the week after. This is a terrible move, and will hopefully be reversed. Worse, the game will be in Miami and not Honolulu, Hawaii.

Yet before the march to Miami, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, takes place.

The New England Patriots are one year removed from 16-0. The Detroit Lions are only months removed from 0-16.

Yet for now, everyone is 0-0. The Oakland Raiders are tied for first place.

I can’t take it any more. Start the season already.

I am ready for some football.


Sports update: a close 5-4 game was broken open, and my kickball team lost 11-4. I was dreadful, and am going to go on the disabled list again. The post game barbecue afterward was successful.


3 Responses to “NFL Comings and Goings”

  1. Tony Kornheiser’s out and in comes Gruden. The late great Howard Cossell would be appalled, but not the least bit surprised. The age of the great sportswriters and sportcasters is over. It’s just a bunch of ex-coaches and ex-players, most of whom have little or none of the skills required to be great writers and announcers. I can’t believe any real football fan would be happy about this. All Chuckie is going to bring to the booth is more blowhard color commentary. Barf.

    As for Vick, he didn’t come anywhere near serving his time. He should have gotten at least ten years. The little lowlife pulled a fast one – he smoked pot before sentencing and was able to finagle a reduced sentence with “drug treatment.” He lied to the cops, he lied to the NFL, he lied to his team, he lied to the fans, and he did the next worst thing to molesting children. If he is returned to the league, I will not watch the NFL, write about the NFL, patronize any coverage of the NFL, root for any team, buy any merchandize – nothing, nada, zilch – until he is gone from the league. And there are millions of other Americans who feel the same way. Goodell better take heed – Michael Vick is persona non grata.


  2. I can’t believe that was editted. Amazing. Michael Vick is a slob. Scum of the Earth. He should be thrown in a cage of his own dogs so they could tear him to pieces. I can’t believe any ostensibly decent human being would support this pile of trash. I’m extremely disappointed with our good host here. And I’m exceedingly disappointed with the people out there that think this satanic vermon should be allowed to play in the NFL and make all that money and regarner all that fame. It’s one thing to forgive someone, to say they’ve paid their due – it’s another thing entirely to reward them with fortune and fame. Too bad Jeffrey Dahmer is dead! He coulda’ been a great player! He’d eat ’em alive! Why not Osama Bin Laden as a coach? He’s quite the tactician from what I hear! Any child molesters out there good at running back? What kind of moral standard is good enough for a conservative anyway? I remember whan you said that you advised your coworkers, and I paraphrase, ‘as long as it’s legal it’s okay.’ That’s great man. Gonna tell your kids that one day? So, you can lie, cheat, steal, fool, trick, abuse, kill, anything ya’ want – as long as it’s legal it’s okay! So, Michael Vick is “legal” now, right? But that does mean that a disgusting monster who picks up dogs and slams it on the ground – PICKS UP A DOG AND SLAMS IT ON THE GROUND – should be a richly rewarded player in America’s favorite professional sport? Where do you draw the line? What kind of morality do you possess? Do you possess any at all?

    I could not possibly be more disappointed. Go ahead and ban me if you want.


  3. Look, just one last thing. Nice and rational…

    Imagine you have a kid. Let’s say a 6 year old boy. Now, you’re sitting with your kid watching an NFL game and Michael Vick is playing. Sure enough, there’s some people in the crowd booing him and holding up signs that say pretty rough stuff about him. So, your kid turns to you and says, “Daddy, why’s those people booing and holding up those signs?” And you look at your kid and say to him, “Well, you see son, Michael Vick, the quarterback for that team there… well, a few years ago he was caught training dogs to kill and be killed by each other, and in the process he tortured them, electrocuted them, and even personally murdered them.” So, your son looks up to you and says, “And he plays football in the NFL?” Even a child knows we should be better than that.

    What kind of world do you want to live in? In your world, could Michael Vick do anything he wants? Could he be president one day? How would you explain to your son or daughter how a man like that could be rich and famous?


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