In National Football League news Monday, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was reinstated into the league by commissioner Roger Goodell, in a move that, frankly, I thought I would never see. I thought Vick’s football career, for all practical purposes, was one-and-done.
But Vick’s reinstatement didn’t come without a laundry list of baby-sitting type provisions, which, in turn, probably didn’t come without a certain measure of groveling on Vick’s part. They include:
… to have counselors and mentors guide him through his attempted comeback (former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy is serving as the NFL’s liaison). Vick must keep Goodell apprised about his living arrangements if/when signing with an NFL team. Vick even needs to tell Goodell how he will “manage his financial affairs” and follow that plan. — Alex Marvez, FOX Sports
Financial affairs?!? Regardless in a touché-rendering comment, Marvez, of course, didn’t forget to include a hefty dose of facetiousness when writing on the topic, perhaps referencing Vick’s original offense of sponsoring a dog-fighting racket:
The only clause Goodell forgot was one forcing Vick to sit, beg and roll over on command.
The vote’s out on which unlucky NFL team might take on the baggage that is Mr. Vick, but it goes without saying that he’s not necessarily a prize catch, even without the dogfighting conviction. His stats are middle-of-the-road at best. That’s not to say that greatness can’t light on him once the ghosts flea from his shoulders, but it’s yet to be seen.
If you need or want an interesting detour from the daily grind at work, pick a topic and Google different media outlets’ reports on the same news item and look at how the accounts differ. For an especially entertaining detour, compare how the official vessel of a certain organization or government agency — say, the Obama administration’s official Web site — handles a news item versus a separate media outlet with no dog in the dog-fighting hunt.
Marvez, with FOX Sports, for instance, was particularly pointed on the Goodell decision when he said:
This isn’t a teenager we’re talking about. Vick is 29 years old. Provided he isn’t breaking the law again or violating NFL policy, Vick should be allowed to make his own financial and living decisions even if they’re bad ones (like squandering tens of millions of dollars en route to bankruptcy). Such is the responsibility — and privilege — that comes with being an adult.
Meanwhile, if we scoot over to nfl.com, we find Thomas George, senior analyst for the company’s official Web site playing a different tune:
We know this: The way the Vick story unfolded Monday assured that Favre’s decision would not be revealed on the same day. No way. The NFL is too smooth to allow these two mega stories to collide. It appears to be a cloaked orchestration across the highest levels.
And that’s OK.
Because if it all clicks for the league, if Vick gets it right and gets his shot and Favre returns, the NFL has a 2009 season that percolates well beyond its usual frenzy. Sure, there are plenty of curious tales across the league minus Vick and Favre. But this duo, these quarterbacks, can generate a blitz of coverage, spotlight and fan interest unlike anything we have seen in the previous 89 NFL seasons.
The difference doesn’t really matter, per se. The NFL is free to spin a fantastically unpopular fellow’s return to the league — as well as Brett Favre’s growing unpopularness, tiredness and unwillingness to fade into the Hall of Fame with dignity — anyway it wishes. That is, after all, in its best interest to do so. But it’s quite entertaining for the rest of us with the time and compulsion to bring to light the differences. And there’s a lesson in the Vick story that goes well beyond sports: there’s usually far more to any news story than the official organ or the supposedly objective news outlets care to admit. In all likelihood, the truth, if one had the omniscience to find its absoluteness, probably lies somewhere in between.