Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Race relations?

I don't know if race figures into this or not, but the more I see what's happening with Charlie Weiss at Notre Dame, the more I'm seeing s definitive double standard with the school's handling of Weiss when taken against the background of how they handled Ty Willingham.

Speaking of potential race issues, with Michael Vick back in the news for the state dog fighting charges and the upstart UFL announcing they have a place for Vick, all the idiots are crawling out of the woodwork. The ones that are yelling for the NFL to take him back, and the others that the way Vick was treated smacks of racism.

Whether the NFL takes Vick back or not is their business - however, as much as people will want to scream racism if they don't, the decision will be based on business, pure and simple. It is not in the NFL's best interest to have fans walking past protesters at games where Vick will be, bringing their children past photos of abused animals. Vick has, in essence, made himself an unmarketable commodity, and unless he becomes a very vocal spokesman for animal rights, he will continue to be a very unmarketable commodity.

Beyond that, with the NFL, there's a league with roughly 3,000 players, 70 percent of which are black. I have a hunch that the vast majority of them don't believe they've been the victims of racism from the league.

As for the government, I would be surprised if they gave a rats ass whether Vick was black, white, or plaid. The bottom line is he broke the law, federal law, and the government actually gave him a sentence that was light considering the statute.

I can't say for sure whether or not Vick will get a chance to play in the NFL again. The UFL might be a step in that direction, but there are a number of things Vick will have to overcome to be a quarterback in the NFL again and rehabilitating his image is only the first step.

In light of Matt Ryan's success with a team that has been Vick's, Vick is going to need to show that he can be an effective leader. Given the fact that he had teammates that questioned his commitment to the game, putting into question his abilities as a leader, he has his work cut out for him.

In a year in which we could be seeing as many as 13 coaching changes, who are the potential coaches of the year?

If the Patriots make it to the playoffs and do better than one and done, Bill Belichick will get some consideration, but he's likely not the most deserving. Nor is Tom Coughlin, who will get consideration as well for guiding the Giants to an impressive record following their Super Bowl season. Jeff Fisher will get some serious consideration as well, but for my money, these need to be the top candidates -

Mike Smith - The Atlanta Falcons first year coach has been doing more with less this season than any of the above. He's got a team that was decimated last season by the Vick issue, and the whole coaching fiasco. He's doing it with the arm of a rookie quarterback, the hands of a rookie receiver, and the legs of a free-agent career back-up running back. Those were the big additions in the off-season. He's already doubled the team's win total from last season (4), and, barring a meltdown in the final four games, will make double digits and have a legitimate shot at 12 wins.

John Harbaugh - The rookie coach of the Baltimore Ravens has done something that supposed offensive guru Brian Billick was never able to do during his entire tenure in Baltimore: install a working offense (11th), with a rookie QB who's putting up solid numbers. Harbaugh, however, inherited a talented defense, more talented than the one Mike Smith inherited. The Ravens have the hardest road over the last four games with the Skins, Steelers, Jags, and Cowboys over the final four weeks of the season.

Tony Sparano - The Dolphins actually still have a shot at the division one season after going 1-15. Like Smith, Sparano took over a train wreck of a team, well, THE train wreck of a team and has them at 7-5. The idea that this is a team that could feasibly win 11 games one year removed from a season in which they flirted with going winless is amazing. Honestly, as much as I dislike the Dolphins, if the Patriots drop two of their next four, I'm hoping the 'Phins and Jets go into week 17 tied if for no other reason than to see Chad Pennington outplay Brett Favre.

That said, I still want to see the Pats beat out the Jets and 'Phins. However, whether the 'Phins make the post-season or not, Sparano deserves serious consideration.

For my money, right now, the horse race for COY looks like this -

1A. Sparano

1B. Smith

2. Harbaugh

3. Fisher

4. Coughlin

5. Belichick

6. Zorn (dependent on whether or not the team continues its recent struggles, or gets it together for a playoff run, he could move up or off the list).

On a final note - Victor Hobson signed with the Bengals, ending any speculation that he will rejoin the Patriots this season.

No comments: