This post was originally written in May
It's been a slow day here at work, so I've had plenty of time to read various sports blogs throughout the day. And I've come up with one cold, hard, fact: The entire sports culture here in the United States has gone insane.
Not just players-not just fans-but the entire culture. From the big-time muckity-mucks in the league corporate offices to the lowly fans like me, we all should be committed.
The NFL is thinking about playing the Super Bowl outside of the country (see my previous rant, and please...don't get me started again). The MLB is still standing in a corner with their hands over their ears, looking at the floor, screaming "I can't hear you!!" whenever the horrid word "steroids" is uttered. The NHL is nearly inconsequential (did you even realize that the STANLEY CUP is being played as you read these words? Yeah, I didn't think so). One of the highest paid athletes in the country is a golfer, the PGA says it doesn't need drug testing, because they aren't "that kind of sport" (oh, and slightly off topic here...the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency is named Dick Pound...dude, trust me on this one, and start going by Richard), and the NBA Finals will be decided largely in part by some idiotic regulation enacted to rid the league of thugs, and...unfortunately, as idiotic as that regulation is, it's not going anywhere, because all of the pro leagues need to purge the thugs from their ranks.
And the Cubs spent $200 MILLION in the off-season and still can't put together a .500 season.
AND fools like me still spend a good portion of my hard-earned free time and money to watch these shenanigans.
So, let's start by seeing what is going on with my favorite NFL boys.
The new commish, Roger Goddell, is really clamping down on "problem children" within the league. And I am conflicted about this state of affairs.
One part of me is happy, and maybe the commish's hard-line policy will make some of the goofballs in the league straighten up.
The other half of my brain is not so convinced that this hard-line stance is a good thing. It detracts from the game because it has set the league on a slippery slope of policing its ranks, and it brings up all kinds of difficult questions. The most difficult, in my mind, is this: At what point does the off-field lives of professional athletes affect their performance on-field, and who should make that call?
Players like Pacman Jones (if you don't know who Pacman Jones is, go to Google and type in his name) deserve to get suspended.
Let me give you a quick history of Pacman.
Since being drafted in 2005, Pacman has been arrested or questioned by the police ten times. He's been arrested for everything from reckless driving to biting a bouncer at a bar. My "favorite" incident was this February in Vegas, where he brought $81,020 to a strip club (man, that's a lot of singles!!), showered the 40 strippers on stage with the money (literally showered them with the money, as in it was falling from the ceiling), and upon the conclusion of said shower, attempted to take the money back.
Listen, I've never been to a strip club, but I gotta tell you...I imagine that attempting to take back any money from the performers is frowned upon heavily.
Well, anyway, Pacman was really upset that the strippers were "in a frenzy" trying to grab as much money as possible, and another good chunk of that money literally walked out the door with the promoter that hired the strippers. What followed was described by the Vegas PD as a "melee" and ended when shots rang out, hitting three people. A bouncer at the club that was shot will be paralyzed for life.
The incident is still under investigation, and there have been no charges filed yet. But Roger Goddell didn't wait for charges to be filed. He took that incident, along with the 10 other incidents in two years, and citing the league's Personal Conduct Policy, suspended Pacman for the entire 2007 season. He suspended Chris Henry from the Bengals for half the season for 4 arrests in a 14-month period, two of which resulted in convictions. And the verdict is still out on Tank Johnson from my beloved Bears, who just got done serving time for violating his probation on gun charges. But he'll probably get a suspension too. And it's these types of guys that have me squarely on Goddell's side. This kind of crap is ridiculous, and the players committing these types of offenses obviously have issues that they need to deal with off the gridiron. The media frenzy surrounding these types of incidents makes the league, the players, and the fans look like a bunch of lawless buffoons who play by their own rules in life and think that they are entitled to do so. And that perception upsets me because it's the classic one-bad-apple-spoiling-the-whole-bunch scenario.
But do I really care that Joe Blow got a speeding ticket and John Doe got into a fight with his girlfriend?
Nope. Not one bit.
The problem with Goddell's new policy is that even the good guys are running scared, reporting every incident that happens-typical, everyday stuff that has no affect on their ability to play football or represent the NFL-and because this is such a hot topic, every report makes SportsCenter.
Oh my God-pro footballers drink alcohol? They fight with their wives and girlfriends and kids and neighbors?? I'm shocked.
And so this is the distraction from the game that aggravates me. I know that I am the ultimate fan geek, but even I get that these guys are athletes, not angels. They have lives off the field that shouldn't have anything to do with their jobs. This, when it comes right down to it, is the way it should be-to a point.
Goddell ain't playing. And quite frankly, good for him. Who brings $80K into a strip club and then gets mad when the strippers want to keep it? And who gets arrested or questioned by the police 10 times in less than two years??
Thugs, that's who.
I'm not talking about guys who have one unfortunate slip and make a bad decision and learn from it. I'm talking about guys who repeatedly slip and repeatedly make bad decisions and think that the authorities are wrong for persecuting them for breaking the law.
I know...if you are a thug before you get drafted into professional sports, your new status as a professional athlete isn't going to magically change your status as a thug.
But it sure should give you a new advantage in life.
Oh...and the latest news from the NFL is that Mike Vick, the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise, is under investigation for-at the very minimum-participating in a dog-fighting ring.
I could really get going on this topic.
I am a dog lover, and the stories that are in every sports magazine and on every website and on ESPN everyday are literally breaking my heart. I can't read them, I can't watch them-it's just too disturbing. So here's my rant on dog-fighting. There are a couple of ways that you can really measure a person's true character. Generally, look at how someone treats kids, waitresses, and animals, and you can tell what their true character is like. Someone who actively participates in dog-fighting does not have a good character. They are, in my opinion, an abhorrent human being.
I can't even think of a stronger adjective than abhorrent.
If there is one shred of evidence that Mike Vick (or any other NFL player for that matter) is involved in dog-fighting, they should not play another down in the NFL. Ever.
Period. No discussion, no appeal. And idiots like Clinton Portis who come out publicly in support of dog-fighting (and make no mistake, Portis-that's exactly what you did, despite the Redskins' shallow attempt to say otherwise) should be suspended.
If there is one shred of evidence that Mike Vick ran a dog-fighting ring-actively engaged in activities such as breeding and abusing animals for such a purpose-they should throw his **** in prison for a very long time.
There are lines in life that should never be crossed. This is one of them.