The No Fun League

As in, “this offseason has not been fun for the league.”

In one of the more macabre offseasons in recent memory, we’ve seen one player suspended for an entire season, one suspended for half a season, and another kicked out of football indefinitely. Despite the frequency and/or severity of the players arrests and crimes committed, Pac-Man Jones, Chris Henry, and Michael Vick have their defenders. These people state “Innocent until proven guilty” as if those involved are appearing before a judge and jury and not the NFL commissioner’s office. The Atlanta NAACP came out in defense of Michael Vick, saying first (paraphrased) “Innocent until proven guilty,” and then “Let him have his job back when he gets out of prison.” J A Adande, a columnist whom I admire and respect, writes “I would wait for guilty verdicts before I suspended NFL players. When you set the standard at merely ‘bad decisions’ for a league filled with young, rich men, you might reach the point that it’s hard to field teams for a game on Sunday.”

On the other side of the issue, the “Mad Dog” half of WFAN’s “Mike and the Mad Dog Show” Chris Russo delivered a classic rant after Pac Man Jones was arrested in Las Vegas. Yelling and screaming aside, Russo makes a good point – if he was arrested in a situation like that or as often as Mr Jones has, WFAN would put him on unpaid leave or fire him. Mr Russo is a public representative of WFAN and, if he had a penchant for getting arrested, having him on the air not only damages WFAN’s reputation but hurts them financially.

Fair or not, NFL players are public representatives of their respective teams and of the league as a whole, and all sports must maintain an image that is friendly to the people consuming the product- the viewing public. The NFL is smart to take its image and, therefore, the behavior of its participants seriously, lest it slip to the second-rate status that the NBA finds itself.

To go further with a comparison to the NBA, that league is currently suffering a gambling scandal involving one of its referees. Already amidst an image problem due to shoddy and uninspiring play as well as boorish behavior by its players, they find the integrity of their league questioned. We’ve been bombarded with stories of the horror of dog fighting and accounts of Michael Vick and his associates killing dogs, but the gambling aspect of this has been under-reported. It’s the fact that he was running a gambling ring that not only brings further damage to the NFL’s reputation, but impugns the integrity of the game.

Vick’s defenders are wrong to insist that he get his job back when his prison sentence is over.

2 Responses to “The No Fun League”

  1. thirdpower says:

    Don’t forget that Whoopie said it was OK for Vick to fight dogs because that’s what he grew up w/.

  2. Brad says:

    Even if there were some miraculous way that gambling wasn’t involved in this, I’m all for Vick trying to come back to football after he serves his time and probation. I really don’t like seeing people deprived of their livelihood and rendered hopeless.

    But since he was running a gambling ring, it means that not only does he not have respect for animals, but he has no respect for his profession. It’s time for him to utilize his other talents in some other vocation.