Friday, July 24, 2009

'Vick'dication? (Or What Do Michael Vick and American Needle Have In Common?)

For the past year, I have argued that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might not be allowed under antitrust law to permanently suspend Michael Vick.

This view has received a lot of push back from both those inside and out of the league. However, today Chris Mortenson of reports that Goodell will likely reinstate Vick into the NFL within 2-6 weeks of the start of the 2009 season. In his article, Mortenson even included a quote from an unnamed NFL league source that called into doubt whether Goodell even has the power to suspend Michael Vick:

"Can we suspend him in basically double jeopardy?" asked the league source.
"That's the question."

So, why this change of heart within the NFL front office?

My guess is that with the Supreme Court soon planning to hear the case American Needle v. NFL--a case in which the NFL teams are going to ask for a broad-based antitrust exemption-- NFL club-owners are being especially carefully to avoid any player complaints about the league circumventing antitrust law.

It is possible a change in leadership at the NFLPA might have also played a positive role.

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Anonymous said...

I believe that it is a good move by the NFL to seek this exemption. The first thing that you learn in any good sports marketing class is that once you sign a contract with a professional sports team, you are automatically held to a higher standard than the rest of the public. I'm not saying that I necessarily think that Vick should be given a life suspension, but I do think that the NFL should be able to reserve the right to make that decision. Additionally, when you are dealing with crimes as heinous as those committed by Vick, or more recently Donte Stallworth, the league must weigh the option of a life suspension in order to make an example, to send a message. The message would be sent to two groups and it would be loud and clear. To fans, the league would be saying, "hey, we understand that you have kids and that they look up to these guys, and we won't tolerate this kind of blatant criminal behavior." To other players, the league would be sending a message that far too many professional athletes forget: this league is your golden ticket, a once in a lifetime opportunity to make more money than you ever dreamed of doing something that you love; if you are willing to blow that chance by involving yourself in criminal activity then we will let you do it...on your own time.