Since taking over the job, Commissioner Roger Goodell has talked a big game about cracking down on character issues in the NFL—and until now, he’s backed up his commitment, doling out tough penalties to Bengals receiver Chris Henry for DUIs and Bears tackle Tank Johnson for charges related to illegal firearms possession, and suspending Titans cornerback Pacman Jones for a full year following his troubles with the police. But now, in the face of national outrage over Vick’s indictment on dogfighting charges, Goodell has announced that Vick will be allowed to play when the season starts in September. Why, Roger, are you folding now when one of the NFL’s biggest stars (who’s certainly been no stranger to the courtroom since he was drafted by the Falcons) has been indicted for a crime that is nothing short of torture? What kind of a message does this send to the communities that are working so hard to stamp out this crime, or to the young fans of Michael Vick who are waiting to find out whether dogfighting is something that will get you into trouble? Goodell’s weak response to these deadly serious allegations is tantamount to admitting that the National Football League doesn’t consider ties to dogfighting rings a character issue at all.
Starting tomorrow, we will be holding demonstrations calling for Vick’s suspension from the league, so I’ll keep you posted with details, and if you want to let Goodell know that he’s made the wrong decision, you can contact him about the issue here.
There is some good news, though. I know a lot of people have been contacting Vick’s sponsors asking that they sever their ties with him, and it looks like some companies have been listening: Nike just announced that they will be suspending the release of the Air Zoom Vick V this summer. You can read about that here. You can be certain that we’ll keep the pressure on Vick’s other sponsors and the NFL to do the right thing here, and I’ll let you know as soon as there are more developments in the story.