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Michael Vick’s Suspension Should be Lifted by Roger Goodell

Usually I take a pretty hard-line stance when it comes to disciplining athletes for off-field issues, especially when it’s something that involves hurting other people such as driving drunk or using steroids. Michael Vick’s case is pretty unique because there’s no precedent for bankrolling an illegal and brutal dog fighting operation. On one hand, you could make an argument that dog fighting isn’t much different from people and athletes who enjoy cock fighting, and that even horse racing can be considered inhumane. On the other hand, Vick was a megastar in the league, and rather than concentrate on his quarterbacking skills, he completely headed up a disgusting organization and participated firsthand in some heinous activities.

I could give Michael Vick a pass and say the guy had way too much money on his hands and got caught up in the wrong group, almost like hazing in a fraternity. I won’t do that, but I’ll say that the guy definitely served his time and was punished much more than other criminals in the league. The guy’s losing about two years of his life and should get another shot in this league — only if a team wants to take him. Problem is Vick wasn’t more than an average quarterback before going to prison — he was all sizzle and no steak. The guy was so well-marketed and such a creation of hype that he sold jerseys and packed stadiums and highlight reels. Now? Who’s going to be bold enough to buy a Mike Vick jersey? Tough question.

What sucks for Vick is that there are plenty of guys in the league who have done far worse. Take Leonard Little and Jared Allen for example, both guys have multiple DUIs and Little’s repeat offense came after he killed someone while driving drunk. Pacman Jones inciting strip club shootings and Chris Henry getting arrested 40 times since being drafted are both worse than what Vick did. Thing is Vick’s popularity, stardom, and hype is all coming back to bite him four-fold because now he’s the most notorious of all NFL criminals. It’s almost like the same way he got extra pub on the field for stuff he didn’t deserve he’s now getting excess negative backlash. Guys like Henry, Pacman, Allen, and Little should be out of the NFL faster than Vick should be. No matter how you slice it, they’re all scum and impossible to root for unless they’re helping your team win. But Vick wasn’t that good too begin with, so who would even bother with him?

Steelers LB James Harrison Spits on Super Bowl Champ White House Tradition

James Harrison was the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL and a big reason why the Steelers reached and won the Super Bowl this past season. The win marked Harrison’s second Super Bowl win in his career, meaning his team was invited to the White House to be honored and recognized by the President once again. Harrison declined the invitation to attend the first ceremony and will do the same this time around as well. He explained his decision to WTAE:

“This is how I feel — if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl. As far as I’m concerned, he [Obama] would’ve invited Arizona if they had won.”

Man, I am all for the idea of not wanting to bend over for anyone or smooch butt, but this is the President we’re talking about here, not some team passing you up in the draft or a coach saying you’re not good enough. There’s no reason to hold the grudge against the Prez — these things are determined beforehand — everyone knows the winning team of all major sporting events gets honored at the White House. It’s not like the Prez is channel surfing ESPN for players to hang out with and play golf with, he’s got a few other things to take care of. If Harrison had won MVP would he have declined the invitation to Disneyland saying Disneyland should come visit him?

I appreciate Harrison’s attitude, edge, and underdog mentality, but being invited because of tradition isn’t a sign of disrespect. I hope he doesn’t get pressured into going now that he’s shared his thoughts and sure to take criticism — he should stick to his guns.

The Packers Didn’t Draft B.J. Raji for His Command of the English Language

Yes, that’s how Packers first-round pick and former Boston College Eagles DT B.J. Raji signed an autograph as pointed out by the folks at Deadspin. Let’s just hope this guy stuffs the run and sacks quarterbacks better than he spells. Maybe he should have put down the bong and actually attended a few English classes. Perhaps that would have helped. For the record, I’m expecting him to be a bust — I just get a horrible sense about his body language.

(Or maybe he was just trying to share with us how all the players felt after games??)

Brett Favre Officially Released by Jets, Free to Sign with Vikings

Holy ****. You have to be freaking kidding me. Brett Favre, who said after his year with the Jets that he was done, requested and received his release from the New York Jets Tuesday night. Favre previously was on their reserve/retired list, meaning the Jets owned his rights. This whole move is curious by the Jets for several reasons pointed out by the NY Daily News: “they get no compensation if he signs elsewhere. The Jets would’ve held his rights for 2009 and 2010, the last two years on his contract.” So if Favre said he had no intention of coming back, then why would he request his release? So he could go sign a one-day contract with the Packers? I doubt it.

Back when Favre first got traded to the Jets, there was a poison pill if the Jets dealt Favre to one of Green Bay’s NFC North opponents — New York would have had to give the Packers three first-round picks. PFT, along with the rest of the football world, is speculating that Favre could go to Minnesota: “The next step for [agent Bus] Cook? He’ll start pestering Bevell and Childress to start pestering Brett to provide the final piece for one of the most talented teams in NFL history at every position except the one that counts the most.” I believe the Vikings would be better off with Sage Rosenfels over Favre, but the comedic aspect of good ole number four returning would be sensational. Brett, come back, we need something other than the Raiders to laugh at!

It Wouldn’t Be a Bengals Draft Without a Few Ex-Cons

By most accounts, the Bengals are getting high grades for their draft this weekend. In the first round, they bit on Alabama OT Andre Smith who bounced out of the scouting combine early, causing scouts to be concerned that he was irresponsible. Sure, he may be dumb for doing that, but he’s still a good football player. Rather, he’s a good run blocker — in the footage NFL Network showed when he got drafted, Smith was burnt on almost every passing play. Anyway, with Rey Maualuga shockingly still around in the second round, the Bengals snatched him up making it the second straight year they drafted a top USC linebacker (Keith Rivers was the other). Maualuga may have fallen because of questions regarding his character — in 2005, he initiated an off-campus fight, and in 2006 he was disciplined by Pete Carroll for “unruly behavior” at a party.

While Maualuga and Smith had “character concerns,” nobody compared to the team’s sixth round pick, Bernard Scott, who truly would fit the ex-con billing. Scott is a running back out of D-II Abilene Christian, by way of about three other colleges. He’s had a theft problem at one school, supposedly struck a coach at another school, and he didn’t play his senior season because of an off-field fight. He has been arrested five times and is finishing up his 18 month term of probation for giving false information to an officer during a traffic stop. But the guy supposedly is a talented running back and the Bengals are convinced the problems are in his past. Whatever. I’m guessing they’re just looking to pad their all-arrest team. What else would make sense?

Even Percy Harvin’s Confused by the Vikings’ Quarterback Situation

When I first saw the Vikings pick Percy Harvin in the draft, I was somewhat surprised and confused. Their biggest needs in my eyes are quarterback and secondary. I guess QB is a problem that they really couldn’t solve based on the lack of talent in the marketplace and maybe they didn’t feel there were good defensive backs available at 22. Because of that, they selected the versatile game-breaker, Percy Harvin. When I thought about Harvin and Peterson causing havoc behind that monster offensive line, I realized the Vikings made a good selection by giving themselves another excellent weapon. Still, there is one problem that looms over everything in Minnesota: who will get Harvin the ball?

Percy himself isn’t even sure of the answer to that question, judging by his introductory press conference on Sunday. Go to the 1:00 minute mark of that video and you’ll hear Percy say, “I’ve been waiting for this great opportunity to play with great players uhhh Adrian Peterson … uhhh … the quarterback … some of those players. So this is a great opportunity for me.” As good as Percy is and as much of a game-changer as he may be, I think he hit on the problem in Minnesota without even knowing it: they don’t have a real quarterback there. Sage Rosenfels can sling it around, but neither he nor Tarvaris Jackson is the answer. It’s too bad because the rest of the offense is really good.

Grading the Mock Drafts: Pro Football Weekly, Todd McShay, and Mike Mayock Got the Most Right

We see so much of these draft experts during February, March, and April it could make our heads explode (if not theirs). Turns out, the three most well-known draft experts might actually have their jobs because they’re better than just about everyone at what they do. When comparing the mock drafts of Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay of ESPN with Mike Mayock’s of NFL Network, Sporting News’ War Room, Don Banks’ at SI, Pro Football Talk’s, Jay Glazer and Peter Schrager’s of FOX Sports, five experts from CBS Sports, Pro Football Weekly’s, and National Football Posts, PFW, McShay, and Mayock all had the best.

Pro Football Weekly’s mock draft blew everyone out of the water getting an absurd 15 of 32 correct. Todd McShay was the best individual expert of the mock drafts I reviewed, nailing eight first-round picks on the nose, and essentially three others (he had the Broncos’ 12 and 18 selections correct, just in reverse order, and the Bucs taking Josh Freeman). National Football Post got 10 right and essentially one other (Freeman to TB). Mike Mayock had 10 exactly right from the first-round, just like NFP. Kiper got eight right and essentially one other with the Bucs taking Freeman at 19. Rob Rang, Chad Reuter, Clark Judge, and Pro Football Talk all had seven picks right in the first-round but didn’t have any other picks “essentially right” they way Kiper and McShay did. Top information guys like Mike Lombardi from NFL Network and National Football Post, and Don Banks at SI only got two first-round picks right. Jay Glazer and Peter Schrager at FOX only had five and three, respectively.

Furthermore, two “expert drafts” had Everette Brown going in the top 10. He went 43rd overall to the Panthers. Some dumbass articles just looking to pick on people say that McShay, Mayock, and Kiper have no idea what they’re doing because they got as many wrong as they did. In order to judge these, you have to look at success rates like batting averages or NBA field goal percentages. PFW blew everyone away batting .469. Mayock and NFP were next at .313, but McShay and NFP essentially went .344. When you figure that most people got well under 20% right, these guy’s predictions look a whole lot better. Let’s ease off them, please.

Special thanks to LBS contributor The Driver for help on this project.

UPDATE: A couple of Danish guys tell me they beat almost all the experts.