Friday, August 24, 2007

Testing the limits

According to an AP report, Michael Vick's guilty plea will not include pleading guilty to the gambling charges or the charges that he was involved in animal cruelty. He will be pleading guilty only to the interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting charge.

From all reports, the Feds have Vick dead to rights on just about all of the charges, so what remains to be seen - on Monday - is whether or not the judge accepts the plea.

If the judge does not, look for the Feds to move forward with the superseding indictments and for a court case that is going to only further tarnish Vick's reputation and cause greater damage to his chances to repair his image. In essence, if the case goes forward and more facts surface regarding how deep Vick's involvement in this subculture really is, the worse it will be for any earning potential or possibility of returning to football.

With the narrow scope of what Vick is pleading guilty to, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the judge assigned to this case throws the plea out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Can't find my way home....

It appears, in the last couple of years, that the NAACP has lost its way.

I know that football is an emotional game, and it is difficult as a fan not to get emotionally invested, but for the second time in three years, the head of a major chapter of the NAACP has made a truly bone-headed statement to the press in regards to a professional football player. With the presidents of two major chapters in the last three years taking some idiotic stances, I think the organization has lost the right to have their membership showing blind faith in its leadership (this doesn't even include issues like the embezzlement of the organization's funds by its leaders in 2002 in the smaller chapter in Frederick, MD).

The first time was in December of 2005 when J. Whyatt Mondesire, head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP essentially called Donovan McNabb an Uncle Tom because McNabb no longer scrambled like he did early in his career. Of course one of the major facts that Mondesire ignored in his argument that McNabb was better before he became a pocket passer, is that until McNabb stayed in the pocket, the team didn't even make it to the NFC Championship game, let alone the Super Bowl.

The same man compared McNabb to Doug Williams, calling him, "no Doug Williams," for his failure to perform in the Super Bowl. For that, Philadelphia fans should be thankful. Williams was at best a mediocre quarterback who had one great game and a couple of good ones on his way to his Super Bowl win with the Redskins. Williams was in and out of the league, playing 1978-1982 for Tampa before toiling in the USFL until 1986 when he joined Washington. He was gone before the 1990 season, playing in only 21 games during his four seasons in Washington.

Head to head, McNabb was and is the far better quarterback =

Williams - 8 Seasons, 88 games

Att 1240  Comp 2507  Percentage 49.5 Yards 16998   Yd/att 6.8 TD 100 INT 93
McNabb - 8 Seasons, 104 games

Att 1898  comp 3259  percentage 58.2 yards 22080   yd/att 6.8 TD 152 INT 72 

Statistical comparisons aside, this attack confounded the NAACP brain-trust who openly wondered if Mondesire shouldn't have more pressing civil-rights concerns.

One has to wonder the same about R.L. White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter who yesterday said, "As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football. We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country."

That's an easy request for a man to make that is not reliant on the general public to pay his salary. The NAACP does not get its revenues from a consumer base - many of whom are dog owners.

White compared dog-fighting to hunting. Not necessarily a stretch, but also the wrong group to attack as they are often dog owners.

He mentions that others were saying things to save their own hides. Probably true - but that doesn't necessarily mean that what they were saying were lies either - particularly in light of the video evidence that the Feds supposedly had...not to mention the fact that is seems the money trail kept leading back to Vick.

Like Mondesire, White ignored a number of facts in this case. If Vick receives a lifetime ban from the league, it won't be for dog-fighting. It will be for gambling. If sponsors do not return to Vick, it will not be because he failed to rehabilitate himself, it will be because they believe that he is no longer a viable marketing commodity and would more than likely cause sales to drop rather than increase.

Finally, being in Atlanta, home of the Genarlow Wilson debacle - like Mondesire, doesn't White have some real civil rights issues he needs to be working on?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mid-week observations

Getting tougher in the Bronx

The Yankees have been great since the All-Star break, climbing to as close as four back of the AL-East leading Red Sox. They have cut what was once a 15-game deficit to what is now six games and are in the thick of the wild-card race, climbing from as many as ten games under .500 to 70-56.

In spite of all that, I still think the Yankees are done.

This is why -

The Bommahs are 22-25 against the East. A winning percentage of 0.468.

Against the West they are 12-15 - 0.444.

However they have owned the teams in the Central. Against the Central they are a gaudy 26-8. That's a winning percentage of 0.765.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, they only have seven games remaining against the Central. At their current paces against each division, that means we're looking at five wins against the Central and two against the West. The Yanks have 25 games remaining against the East which translates to maybe 12 wins.

Realistically, I think the Yankees finish with a respectable total of 87...maybe 89 wins. The Red Sox could go .500 in their remaining games and still finish with 94 wins.

The Yanks could still make the wild-card, but I'm guessing Seattle gets it.

Wake-up call

The Red Sox have two fifteen game winners and one fourteen game winner. With approximately seven starts remaining, Tim Wakefield has a legitimate shot at 20 wins. I think 18 is more realistic, but Wake's year could give the Sox a staff with three starters with at least 17 wins.

When is the last time that happened?

Welcome to the Bigs, rook

I've said this before and I will say it again. Right now the Red Sox have to have three of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year in Dustin Pedroia, Hideki Okajima, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Unfortunately for Oki, I think Pedroia is more likely to get the award.

Don't get me wrong, Pedroia has had a deserving season, but I don't think the Sox are in first without Okajima. He has been the rock in the bullpen, and the most consistent of the three. I just don't think middle relievers ever get the credit they deserve.

This ain't gonna be The Longest Yard

Vick couldn't beat the feds and now he's facing a local DA in Virginia who is going to use the Feds evidence and Vick's own confession as a cudgel in trying to convict him on animal cruelty charges. If my understanding is correct - each charge carries with it a maximum five-year sentence that can be ordered to be served consecutively rather than concurrently.

If Surry County prosecutor Gerald Poindexter convicts Vick of all charges, the soon to be former Falcons quarterback could be looking at serving up to an additional 40 years in a Virginia penitentiary after he gets out of federal prison.

What do you suppose the over-under is on when his brother finally screws up enough that he's out of the league as well?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From Don Banks -

Before he would let our conversation end, the veteran personnel evaluator made
one more point, and said it was something he thought a lot of people within NFL
circles have felt as Vick's long, sordid dogfighting saga has played out the past four months.
"I don't know what's going to happen to Michael Vick, and I don't care,'' he said, slowly and with emphasis. "The guy has embarrassed the NFL and embarrassed the game that a lot of us care about greatly. He's not worth any more time and energy and attention. It's his problem now.''

Banks in his article at talked to a number of personnel people around the NFL about Vick's future in the NFL based on speculation that the earliest Vick could return would be for the 2009 season - really a best case scenario for Vick. There's a fair chance he could receive a lifetime ban from the NFL for the gambling aspect of his recent issues.

Realistically, I'm guessing a two year suspension which can only be served while he is on a roster. Assuming he remains on the Atlanta roster until June so they can minimize the salary cap hit, we're probably looking at ten games this season before he starts his jail term which will eat into next season. That means Vick will likely still be looking at 22 games - and that's only if he can get onto a roster, a team that is willing carry close to a season and a half of dead money before this guy can play. That would be after a four season layoff.

At best, he would come back as a back-up quarterback, or maybe a wide-receiver or running back. I doubt anyone would consider one of the statistically worst quarterbacks in the league for a starter after a four year layoff. But there's a chance someone might look at him for another position.

But who would take a flyer?

The following teams are unlikely to take him due to being set at QB and because Vick doesn't fit what the team does - or his reputation for not being a hard worker will also hurt him with the following -

Patriots - QB
Jets - not a hard enough worker for Mangini and probably are set at QB
Colts - QB
Bengals - QB
Chargers - QB
Saints - QB
Seahawks - QB
Packers - Green Bay just plain won't accept him
Rams - QB
Falcons - Arthur Blank will have burned that bridge
Giants - Mara family unlikely to take a flyer on Vick
Steelers - Ditto for the Rooneys

The following recently addressed QB issues and hope they won't have to address the position in four years -


Teams that might be in most need of help at the QB position, or might address it between now and then -


Personally, I think that the suspension will operate like a scarlet letter. No one is going to want to invest money in a player that can't earn the money for a year and a half. It's why no team, no matter how deficient on defense, has signed Tank Johnson.

A lot of people are speculating that Vick will one day return to the league, but I think that the suspension is tantamount to the end of his career. I wonder if he actually has enough saved up to sustain himself while he finishes his degree. If not, I think he needs to get used to the words, "would you like fries with that?"

Monday, August 20, 2007

You knew I had to comment

So Michael Vick accepted a guilty plea today to the dogfighting charges.

Surprise, surprise.

There's a lot that's sad about this -

It's sad that many of those who supported Vick throughout this will continue to maintain his innocence, claiming he was railroaded by the federal government; that they will do so in spite of the fact that, according to the indictment, there was video evidence that he attended dogfighting; in spite of the fact that there was no evidence that a single one of his cronies could have in any way funded an operation like this.

There will be those that continue to defend him, like Clinton Portis did, because, "they's his dogs, he should be able to fight 'em if that's what he wants to do."

It's sad that many of these people believe that it's because he's black that he has been targeted by the feds, in spite of the fact that people like Donovan McNabb and Robert Johnson (the founder of BET) have not. It's sad that they think this is a racial thing when in fact it's about federal statute.

It's sad that a supremely talented athlete (he has a long way to go as a quarterback, but he's one hell of an athlete), is willing to throw his career away because he needed cheap thrills from a bloodsport, and needed the added excitement of gambling on said bloodsport. This was what was more important to him during the off-season than working on his game.

Don't pity him, because this is the path he chose, but it's sad that football was just a means for him to fund something else. If he wanted to be the best in the game he would have done what McNabb, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and countless other quarterbacks do during the off-season - they work on their game, they train, they try to improve. He thought fighting dogs was a better use of his time.

And that's just sad.