By FRED WEINBERG Publisher
By FRED WEINBERG
The National Football League had better wake up to reality.
Here is the situation as seen by a former sports-writer—me—who now owns the newspaper and a few radio stations as well:
The NFL has a star quarterback of a mediocre team in a mediocre market who has been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on 18 felony counts relating to dog fighting—as scummy a crime as you can commit in the opinion of most American pet owners—and the commissioner, Roger Goodell, can’t summon the cojones to tell Michael Vick to get lost.
Oh, sure, he’s innocent until proven guilty—in a court of law.
But we’re talking about the NFL.
It’s right up there with baseball, NASCAR and Mom in the affections of its fans.
For the moment.
You see, those guys who live and die on "Da Bears" may well find something else to live and die for if the NFL starts to stand for killing dogs.
Professional sports leagues have a delicate balance with their fans.
If you don’t believe that, you should run your mind back to the season after the last baseball strike. The fans stayed away in droves. The NFL fancies itself a well-oiled profit machine. Piss off 70 or so million people and see what happens.
In case the Commish doesn’t understand this, he needs to get together with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank who co-founded Home Depot and ask Blank if he would hire Vick to represent the company he co-founded. You know, just like Tony Stewart drives the number 20 Home Depot car in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series. Would Blank be comfortable with Vick wearing a Home Depot jersey instead of an Atlanta Falcons jersey?
The answer is obvious.
Goodell is telling the sportswriters who care that he’s between a rock and a hard spot. That somehow, clotheslining Vick would be a big stretch.
The league needs to "investigate" the charges against Vick.
Well, all he really needs to do is look skyward and ask what two people would have done in his situation.
Pete Rozelle and Howard Cosell.
First of all, the dog-fighting—however warped and gruesome—is a symptom of a bigger problem.
And here’s where I go completely politically incorrect.
The bigger problem is this hip-hop "gangsta prison culture" which has infested the NFL and the NBA and is threatening to take the largely middle class fans of the games and turn them into chess fans.
The appeal of this "gangsta culture" is vastly over-rated among the folks who can actually afford to be fans of professional anything.
If Goodell thinks that Rozelle would have done anything but immediately suspend Vick until the litigation was cover (and probably for 12 to 20 thereafter), he’s smoking the same crack which the "gangsta culture" glorifies to its acolytes.
And I can just imagine what Cosell would have had to say on ABC.
In fact, I can just hear Howard in my mind as I write this.
Today’s sportswriters are a bunch of liberal wimps who actually believe the crapola they spout.
The NFL isn’t a governmental entity.
Vick has no constitutional "right" to play football.
The way these guys are dancing around this situation, you’d think that they actually think Vick is the kind of guy you can sell to corporate America.
Here’s the bottom line.
America has something like 44-million households which own some 75-million dogs.
Very few of those folks have any tolerance for dog fighting, much less that so-called "gangsta culture" which glorifies it. The dog fighting is a felony in 48 states and many of the other activities glorified by the aforementioned "gangsta culture" are felonies in all 50 states.
My guess is that very few of those folks will go out of their way to patronize any company which has any connection to Vick or any team or league with which he is connected.
Do these clowns at the NFL really think otherwise?
Do they think that the gangsta-clowns who think having dogs kill each other is just another day at the office are a constituency of the NFL?
If they do, I can promise you I will not watch a single minute of a single game this season and I will go out of my way NOT to patronize any of their corporate sponsors and partners.
I never thought that I would be on the same side of an issue with PETA.
Here’s a question which should explain everything.
What would happen to Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon if they were indicted for the same thing?
The answer is that as popular as they are, NASCAR, their sponsors and their owners would drop them faster than they could run a lap at Talladega.
It’s not a race thing.
It’s a class thing.
People who kill animals and glorify the act are nothing but classless thugs.
The fans have this right.
Every bit of polling I have seen is overwhelmingly against Vick.
It’s the people running the league and the media who lack the cojones to call this what it is.
Where are Pete Rozelle and Howard Cosell when you need them?