great article from gregg doyel on cbs sportsline:http://www.cbs.sportsline.com/columns/story/10260902
Michael Vick can't play this season. You know that, right? He cannot play. Not for the Atlanta Falcons. Not for anybody, not anywhere, not at any time. Not until he is clear of the charges leveled against him by the federal government.
And if he's not cleared of those charges? If he's found guilty of sponsoring a macabre dogfighting ring? Then the NFL has seen the last of Michael Vick.
Distractions will follow Michael Vick and the Falcons every step of the way if he plays. (Getty Images)
Don't give me "due process." Look around you. Do you see a court of law? Do you see a judge, a jury, a lawyer, a bailiff? The NFL is not the U.S. judicial system, and for the sake of this argument, Michael Vick is not a defendant. He's a football player who has been accused of something so serious, something so heinous, that the NFL cannot in good faith allow him to represent the most popular sports league in this country.
Don't give me "innocent until proven guilty." Michael Vick has no inalienable right to play football this season or any season for the Atlanta Falcons. Our colonial militia didn't throw tea in the Boston Harbor so Michael Vick, some 230 years later, could play football for the Falcons. U.S. soldiers have not died in wars all over the world, and are not dying right now in the Middle East, so Michael Vick can throw a football.
Don't give me "the presumption of innocence." The NFL isn't deciding whether Vick will spend the rest of his life behind bars. The NFL only has to decide whether Vick should, or should not, be allowed to play while the most sordid sports story in years plays out.
Michael Vick simply cannot play this season. Surely you understand that. His first court date is July 26, the same day the Falcons are scheduled to begin training camp. That's a nice touch, but think further ahead to when the Falcons are getting ready for their season opener Sept. 9 at Minnesota. At the same time he will be trying to prepare his offense for the Vikings, Vick will be helping prepare his defense for a nasty court case that will decide his freedom.
He won't be ready to play for the Falcons. Not at quarterback, where the mental side is so critical. It wouldn't be fair to Vick to ask him to play with this court case hanging over his head, and if it sounds like I'm being sympathetic to Vick's plight, I'm not. He has been accused of crimes that offend me greatly, and if he's found guilty, I hope he spends so much time in jail that he dies there. Dog fighting? Dog killing? Only the scum of the earth partake in such an atrocity.
Think ahead to Sept. 16, when the Falcons visit Jacksonville. There are also trips to Tennessee, New Orleans, Carolina, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Phoenix. In every city, Michael Vick will bring the circus. Animal cruelty foes will picket stadiums. Fans will be ugly, maybe cruel, possibly even criminal. Things will be thrown at Vick. Things will be yelled.
For those eight Sundays on the road, Michael Vick will be hated like no visiting player has ever been hated.
Baseball villain Barry Bonds thinks he has it tough when he goes on the road? Bonds is only accused of being a jerk and a cheat. Vick has been accused of killing dogs, which ought to earn him the malice of even the home crowd. Any idea how many NFL fans own a dog? Me neither, but it's a large number. And every last one of them should hate Vick. At this moment I do, and he hasn't even been found guilty yet.
But he has been charged, and not just anywhere. He has been charged in federal court, and for those who don't know what that means, let me tell you: It means Vick is almost certainly guilty. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 99 percent of the people indicted by the federal government between 2000 and 2005 were convicted.
Did you catch that number? It was 99 percent. Guilty. How can that be? This is how: The U.S. government doesn't indict just anybody, and certainly wouldn't indict Vick or anyone else for headlines. The government is far too busy and far too cheap to waste its time and money pursuing a trial against a defendant that has even a remote chance of winning. The U.S. government only indicts you if it believes it can and will convict you.
The NFL has to know that percentage. So does Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. They have to know that Michael Vick, in all probability -- say, 99 percent -- will be convicted of masterminding a dogfighting operation. And if he is convicted, he will go to jail for a long, long time. Which means his NFL career is finished.
So why let him play now? This isn't a guy who deserves the benefit of the doubt. He has shown horrible judgment over and over, from the Ron Mexico herpes incident to the middle finger he showed the home crowd to the James Bond water bottle he used in an unsuccessful attempt at sneaking marijuana jewelry onto an airplane. None of those cases led to any sort of conviction in a court of law, but Pacman Jones is serving a one-year suspension from the NFL and as of today, he has been convicted of nothing. He hasn't even been indicted by the federal government, as Vick has.
The Falcons deserve some relief, too. They would take a huge salary cap hit for releasing Vick, but that hit should be waived. The Falcons should not be forced to keep a poisonous person because of NFL salary cap ramifications. That is not the way anyone should want the NFL to operate. It's in the best interests of everyone in the NFL for Michael Vick to never again wear a uniform, so the Falcons should be cut some slack for releasing him.
The bleeding hearts among you -- the Vick fans, the gullible, the blind -- want to know how the NFL can keep an innocent man off the field.
I've got a better question:
How could the NFL possibly let him play?