Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vickkampf: the Oder has been Crossed

A morning linkapalooza now that the local pro football collective's star quarterback has been indicted:

Lester Munson at ESPN.com has a solid description of the legal challenges that Vick faces. His story jibes with a conversation I had last night with a friend who is a criminal defense attorney (and a very good one, at that). The initial thought I had after hearing the allegations against Vick was that "sure, that sounds bad, but the evidence against OJ sounded a lot worse and he walked." That isn't an applicable analogy because federal prosecutors are a different class altogether from Chris Darden and Marcia Clark, not to mention the fact that the FBI is a lot better at assembling evidence than Mark Furman. I left the conversation thinking that Vick was cooked once the feds got tired of the Surry County prosecutor and launched into their own investigation.

Munson also references the fact that Vick is in the Fourth Circuit rocket docket, which means that Vick might stand trial during or shortly after the season. In terms of the Falcons' perspective, that isn't a bad thing because it means that Vick's legal situation will be resolved relatively quickly.

I don't think that Bobby Petrino knew it when he took the job, but he's now Terry Bowden. He's stepped into the equivalent of a team on probation, which means he'll get mulligans for the first year or two in Atlanta and no one can blame him if the team doesn't do well. I was mildly optimistic about Joey Harrington until I looked at his numbers and realized that the change of venue to Miami did nothing to improve his stats. Just like multiple witnesses testifying against Vick are going to be more difficult to beat than one or two, sucking for two NFL teams makes it harder for me to play the "Harrington sucked because the Lions suck" card. And as for Vick, it's hard to imagine that he'll be able to put a looming criminal trial with significant prison time at stake out of his mind and focus on playing football. The million dollar question is whether the rest of the team will be affected. I'm generally not a big fan of the line of reasoning that any off-the-field issues prevent other players from doing their jobs, as that reasoning treats players like emotionally immature children. The Falcons' players still have every individual incentive to play well. That said, they now have a built-in excuse not to succeed and that could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Both George Dohrman and Mark Bradley focus on the lurid nature of the allegations in the indictment against Ookie and Friends. The widespread dissemination and discussion of the indictment is a major, major problem for Vick. It was one thing for Vick to vaguely be associated with dogfighting. I could rationalize his role as being that of a passive investor who was culpable in the sense that he let his friends commit terrible acts, but he wasn't involved himself. Now, there are very specific allegations that allow anyone who reads the indictment to paint a truly disturbing mental picture of what Vick allegedly did on the property. It is hard for me to escape the conclusion that the allegations are more likely than not to be true, given the level of specificity and the fact that it is not just based on one eye-witness. Moreover, it is very hard for me to paint the mental picture that the indictment invites me to paint and then root for a Falcons offense with Michael Vick under center. As time passes, the impact of reading the indictment will fade somewhat, but is that a good thing?

One other note on the media coverage of the indictment: 790 the Zone did a terrific job this morning at lining up quality guests and having an intelligent discussion of the impact of the indictment. That said, the one thing that bothered me was Steak Shapiro repeatedly discussing the fact that the indictment was going to lead to further polarization, with white racists on one side and African-Americans apologizing for the indefensible on the other. (For instance, one gentleman called in this morning alleging that Vick was being indicted as part of some sort of cover-up for the Feds' failure to "get" Scooter Libby [then what was that whole commutation about?] and investigate voter fraud.) Steak admitted that most people fall in the middle, but that the extreme voices are the ones who end up on the radio. The inescapable conclusion from his admission is that sports talk radio increases the level of polarization by highlighting the extremists and giving them a platform such that their opinions seem far more common than they are. Then again, I listen, so I'm contributing to the process as well. And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?

11 comments:

membengal said...

Outstanding read and good points, Michael. Much appreciated.

LD said...

Good read, and I've had a lot of the same thoughts.

A few points...

1) I think the fact that Vick's on the fast track docket is good news, because above anything else, I'm pulling for complete resolution of this ASAP - regardless of whether he's exonerated completely or thrown in jail. It's fish or cut bait time with him, even with the salary cap problems. Actually, I'm leaning toward cut bait.

2) I'm still a little optimistic about Harrington and in a weird way kind of pulling for a suspension, because I think he'll take the team one of two directions. Either he'll be a massive surprise, and allow the Falcons to cut Vick and re-sign Harrington, or he'll be a massive disappointment, and allow the Falcons to cut Vick and draft Brian Brohm. I just don't think there'll be anything in the middle. Either there's an epiphany or there's a complete failure - and either way the Falcons can move on from Vick.

3) This morning was good on the radio. 790 had good guests, and even when I flipped to 680 during a commercial they had Mortensen on providing good insight (even though Mort's frustration with Laurentino's questions was plainly evident, actually that's not an "even though" - that made the interview better).

Grandy said...

At least college football is looming.

Anonymous said...

I didn't listen to either local radio this morning so they may have adressed this already, but I think the race issue comes into play whenever teh suspension comes out because of Jared Allen. This guy got two DUI's. HE has handed a four game suspension for this, which was reduced to two recently. Chris Henry got a longer suspension, and so dod Tank Johnson. I assume that Vick will get more than two games as well. I am going to tell you right now, it does not matter about convictions, jail time or whatever, the white guy got a suspension reduced even though he wa a multiple offender- that is all that matters.

Fox said...

The real question to me is whether teh NFL acts quick enough to prevent Blank from having to decide whether to cut Vick? Any thoughts on that?

Ryno said...

God Bless Chris Dimino. Last night coming home from the office, he opened his Braves Pre-Game show by apologizing and then making it clear he was going to discuss the main issue of the day...the indictment.

I understand and accept the racial implications of the situation, what I don't understand is that the Vick apologists refuse to stick to the issue at hand. Last night, Domino tried to have a conversation with an African American gentlemen and honest to god the conversation went from "lets let the legal process play out" to "well, ain't no body blockin' for a brotha" in under 2 exchanges of dialogue.

Michael said...

Having a conclusive answer at QB would be something new, as we have been in "Vick is decent, but not great" netherworld for the past several years. The indictment gets the Falcons out of that rut. And is Brohm much better than Chad Henne, other than the fact that Henne is more durable and comes from a program with a great pedigree at producing NFL QBs, whereas Brohm knows the Petrino offense better?

680 was OK this morning, but PacMan's lawyer didn't add that much to the conversation (other than dancing around questions for the obvious reason of not wanting to waive the attorney-client privilege).

Fox, I think the Falcons are going to take the temperature of the league before they do anything. They might also discuss with Vick whether he wants to take a leave of absence.

Ryno, I lost some respect for the Stews last night when they weren't discussing the indictment, even though it broke during their show and is one of the biggest Atlanta sports stories in a while. Dimino was simply more professional in addressing it. Additionally, Ryan Stewart was on this morning and his commentary was essentially: (1) we shouldn't judge before all the facts are in (if that were consistently applied, then sports talk radio would cease to exist); and (2) if true, the charges are really bad. That's helpful.

Chg said...

The Stews are pretty consistently adamant that they do not participate in the hatin'. One of many reasons they would almost have to be involved in dog fighting themselves for me to lose respect for them at this point.

Anonymous said...

The 2 live stupes were terrible yesterday.Did you listen?

About 25 minutes before the indictment broke, they were all braggin' about how they were gonna have a 'nannynanny boo boo' party when Vick was exonerated.

When the news broke, you could have heard a pin drop.

Then they tried as hard as they could to talk about anything else, even tennis! All while the news is breaking.Those guys were sorry.

I tuned into today, and they sound pretty cowed.

No wonder they get thier clocks cleaned by 680. They need to go back to overnights.And I'm goooone!

Paul Westerdawg said...

The pressure on Goodell (sp?) now is pretty over the top.

As for the race issue. The Stews had a black woman who writes for ESPN on the air. She was pretty funny and candid. Not the bitter USC professor that Outside the Lines always talks with. She said that blacks have a natural inclination to give someone the benefit of the doubt for being persecuted. And such a heavy skeptiscm for the legal process that was earned.

However, she said (when being asked about Bonds) that she had no idea why blacks defend him. "Barry Bonds doesn't give a damn about you. I have no idea why you give a damn about him."

That's neither here nor there.

Fox said...

I think Peter King had a nice take on this (aided, of course, by the fact that he has great sources):

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/peter_king/07/18/vick.league/index.html

Basically, he said the NFL would wait to see how it plays out but that if Vick even please, he'll get hit hard by the NFL, especially after Goodell gave him a chance to come clean in April and Vick denied any involvement.