I’ve made a conscious effort not to discuss off the field issues here. I’m not concerned with what a player does in his free time. I’m only about the sports. However, this Bucco season is like the Saharah Desert for sports blogging in Pittsburgh. Plus, I’m rationalizing that as a sports blog, I should attack some of the major issues in sports, on or off the field. So I’m going to pitch in my opinion of some of the top stories this week. If it’s popular, I might make it into a weekly segment that I regularly forget to do (see: weekly beer recommendation).
Should Mike Vick Play Football?
The skinny: If you’ve been living under a rock, Mike Vick was convicted of dogfighting. He went to jail for two years. The NFL commissioner is now debating when to let him play football again.
My two cents: Let him play. He didn’t weasel his way out with a plea bargain or a cheap acquittal due to a high priced lawyer. He was convicted. A judge sentenced him. That means there is a contract between him and the American people that he must do X, Y and Z to make up for his transgressions. He did X, Y and Z. If you don’t think that it was a harsh enough punishment you don’t need to go see the NFL, you need to go see your local lawmaker to get the minimum sentence raised for dogfighting. I don’t think that the sentence is what people are objecting to, however. I think they’re objecting to the million dollar payday he’s in line for when he gets back in the NFL. Dogfighting is a horrible crime. It shows that you have no compassion and it shows a lot of bad tendencies in your human nature. Bad men who kill dogs aren’t worthy of million dollar pay checks. That’s my understanding of the argument at least. But that’s a slippery slope of logic that you’re heading down. If a dog killer doesn’t deserve a million dollars what is he allowed to make? You have to allow him to earn a living. Denying him a job and forcing him to die a slow death from starvation is meeting inhumanity with inhumanity. So where do you set the line? I’m educated with a college degree. I have a professional job. I’m not bringing home a million dollars, but I’m not hurting. If I’m convicted of dogfighting am I still worthy of a comfortable living? I guess the main point here is that if you deny Michael Vick the opportunity to play football, you’re punishing him because of his profession, which has nothing to do with his crime.
Brett Favre: Stay, Go or JUST DECIDE ALREADY!?
The skinny: Brett Favre has spent the past few off-seasons debating whether or not to retire from football. Just today, he finally made the decision to retire.
My two cents: I understand the dilemma, but he needs to make a decision. I respect his obvious love of the game. He was a successful quarterback. He has enough money to last the rest of his life and then some. This was about his love for the game of football and not money. I can understand that. But there are other people who are affected by this decision. The team he’s dragging along (in this case, the Vikings), have to make plans for the upcoming season. He can always un-retire a la Michael Jordan. But he has a responsibility to others around him to make a decision and live with it for at least a year. Now, Jordan took some heat for being confused and retiring and un-retiring. But it was just fun and jokes because it affected no one but him. Brett Favre, on the other hand, is being a bit selfish by waiting, and was starting to draw some genuine anger. There’s a difference. Will this anger taint his legacy, as I’ve been hearing? Probably not. People will forget about it eventually, and he’ll be remembered as a great quarterback. This is just a footnote.
Big Ben Is In Hot Water
The skinny: Our own Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assult of a woman in Nevada.
My two cents: This is an awful situation. You can stereotype it both ways. Either the famous athlete is trying to get away with another crime or the gold digging woman is lying for money. Both situations have happened before. No one knows which of those two scenarios is correct, and it will be a while before we do. This case could drag on for another year. But I do know one thing: someone is very very wrong in this situation, and I hope whoever it is suffers some serious consequences. The sexual assault she describes is basically rape. So either Big Ben is guilty of rape (which is probably one of the worst crimes you can commit), or this woman is guilty of lying (or at the very least grossly stretching the truth) about being raped and destroying his reputation for a chance at a pay day. Either one of those is a serious challenge to society in general, and I hope that whatever happens, the truth is found and this case is not just shrugged off. Now, I’m aware that things don’t look good for this woman at first blush. She waited a year to tell anybody, and she’s going after him in civil court instead of criminal court (where she can get more money). However, I’m at least willing to admit that the scenario is plausible. If you’re going to accuse the Super Bowl champion quarterback of rape, you’re going to get a lot of attention, and you’re going to have to talk about this very painful experience a lot. I can understand if it takes a year to get up the mental strength to do that. I can also understand that after a year, most of the evidence is probably gone, so you have to go to civil court where the evidence requirement for a conviction is a lot looser. So it’s at least possible that she waited a year and is still telling the truth. The story she gave is also possible. Therefore, we’re just going to have to wait for a decision in about a year, and hopefully a stiff punishment thereafter.
Pete Rose Finally In The Hall?
The skinny: After some lobbying statements by Hank Aaron, Bud Selig is considering putting Pete Rose up for the vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My two cents: I don’t care. Pete Rose gambled on a baseball game that he was a part of. That’s an obvious assault on the integrity of baseball. Any game that Pete Rose was a part of after that was going to be looked at with a skeptical eye. So, he was given a lifetime ban from the game. That’s a fair and logical punishment (it’s also fair and logical to ban those who threaten the game’s integrity with continued steroid use, but that’s for another rant). With that ban came a ban from the Hall of Fame. Now, I can understand making an exception of his ban for that. Being a member of the Hall of Fame who bet on the game doesn’t cause anyone to think a game is fixed. It does question the integrity of the Hall of Fame, however. If a man who made that kind of egregious act towards the game is let in it doesn’t speak very highly of the requirements, but that’s for the sportswriters to decide. Which brings me to my next point. Admittance to the Hall of Fame is an arbitrary decision by a bunch of sportswriters. It says nothing about your career beyond what your numbers said. Pete Rose put up some of the greatest hitting stats in history, and for that he will be remembered as a great baseball player. Hall of Fame or not. In the long run, that kind of honor doesn’t really matter. Besides, most of these players spend their careers telling the baseball writers that they don’t care about their opinions. Why should they start after they retire?
So there you have it. The first edition of my two cents. Let me know if this is something I should continue or not. Or, let me know if I’ve lowered my standards of faux journalism and I should be ashamed of myself.