When I wrote my thoughts about the Michael Vick situation last month, I initially said, “If the NFL doesn’t reinstate Vick, Roger Goodell will have the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton at his doorstep.” That portion of my post was removed because it was felt I might be wading into controversial waters discussing race with regard to Vick.
Well, lo and behold, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has weighed in on the matter. In comments published Friday in the New York Times, Jackson claims that collusion may exist among NFL owners to collectively preclude Vick from being signed to a team.
“I want to make it an issue,” Jackson told the Times. “I want teams to explain why they have a quarterback who has less skills but is playing or at least is on the taxi squad, and a guy with more skills can’t get into training camp.”
I love the Reverend. I actually think he would’ve made a great football coach. He can motivate with the best of them, and he’s a charismatic, born leader.
But sorry, Mr. Jackson, I promise you that 32 owners did not meet secretly for the purpose of putting Michael Vick out of business. If they had wanted to, they would have told Commissioner Goodell to suspend him for a year, or to even ban him for life. But there was not a conference call on secret NFL phones, nor was there a mafia-like meeting at the St. Regis Hotel in Laguna Beach last March led by Arthur Blank. It just doesn’t work that way.
As I wrote previously, I believe Vick should be able to work again in the NFL. As an agent, I work for players and protect them from anyone, including owners, who wants to take advantage or mistreat them in some way. So I commend Rev. Jackson for coming to Vick’s aid. But he’s playing the wrong card. The collusion card isn’t appropriate in this case. What does Chargers owner Dean Spanos care if Al Davis decides to sign Vick? He doesn’t. Not to mention that more liberal owners like Blank, Jeffrey Laurie, Steve Bisciotti and Denise DeBartolo York wouldn’t stand for such an action and would have no part in it. Additionally, the repercussions of such an action are not worth the legal risk to the league. As a matter of fact, it would be good theater to have Michael come back because it would boost TV ratings and possibly ticket sales, depending on what team signed him.
So I have to disagree with coach Jackson on this one. Playing the collusion card is offensive to the owners and a farfetched notion. I do believe some owners want no part of Vick, but I also know for a fact that some teams are discussing his possible role with them. Even Michael’s agent, Joel Segal, would probably disagree with Jackson on the collusion theory. My guess is that we’ll see him under contract before Week 4 of the regular season.
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