Tag Archive | "Michael Vick"

Is NFL Commish’ Goodell losing his big stick?

With Vince Young, Cedric Benson and Michael Vick avoiding suspensions, is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell losing his big stick?

Big Ben wouldn’t say so and neither would Detroit Lions exec Tom Leywand who was hit with a 30-day suspension and a $100,000 fine by the NFL for his recent DUI arrest but look at some of the history of the league’s policy and how Goodell may be slacking off a little bit.

One of the earliest acts of Goodell was his enactment of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy in April 2007.  This was in response to what had been a particularly disturbing season of player conduct issues in 2006.  Although the policy has been strongly defended by many members of the NFL it has faced equally as strong opposition from others.  This has left many wondering about how it is determined that a player or staff member be suspended.

Chris Henry and Adam “Pacman” Jones were the first two players to feel the wrath of the policy when they were both hit with suspensions shortly after the policy was enacted on April 10, 2007.  Henry was suspended for the first eight games of the season while Jones was forced to sit out for the entire season.

Henry was suspended following five arrests in the span of 28 months and a two game suspension late in the 2006 season.  He was warned that further arrests or off-field issues could result in the end of his career as an NFL player.

Jones was suspended following ten separate interviews with police in his short career.  His most recent offense before the suspension came in a strip club brawl in February 2007 that left one man paralyzed. 

Following an altercation with his bodyguard at a Dallas hotel on October 8, 2008, Jones was again suspended for the minimum four games for violations of the conduct policy.  Jones was eventually released by the Dallas Cowboys and played briefly for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  He has since rejoined the NFL as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.

One June 4, 2007, Tank Johnson was suspended for the first eight games of 2007.  This was in response to a misdemeanor weapon charge.  Johnson was required to spend 45 days in prison along with the four month sentence he was already serving for probation violations.

Among the most notable of the suspensions might be that of then-Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.  When police initially conducted a narcotics search of Vick’s property in April 2007, the wound up finding several animals that were part of an illegal dog fighting ring that Vick had established.

Vick was suspended indefinitely without pay by the NFL on August 24, 2007.  He would remain suspended while serving his jail sentence before being reinstated on July 27, 2009.  After being signed to a one year contract by the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick was allowed to play the final two preseason games of that year but was required to sit out the first two regular season games.

Donte Stallworth was suspended for the entire 2009 season following manslaughter charges for an incident that occurred in Miami on March 14, 2009.  Stallworth served 24 days of a 30 day sentence before being released from prison.  Stallworth was released by the Cleveland Browns and reinstated following Super Bowl 44.  He will be a member of the Baltimore Ravens for the 2010 NFL season. 

The latest to be suspended under conduct policy violations is Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault at a Milledgeville, Georgia nightclub in March 2010.  Even though criminal charges have not been filed, Roethlisberger will miss the first six games of the 2010 NFL season.

Many have criticized the suspensions and stated they were too harsh when charges were never filed in some cases.  Many also point to the “spygate” incident in which members of the New England Patriots staff were caught videotaping defensive play calls of other teams following a September 2007 game against rival New York Jets. 

Coach Bill Belichick was never suspended but was fined $500,000.  Many were critical of no suspension being handed down even though videotaping is not listed as a violation in the policy.  Goodell later stated that the videotaping of the calls did not impact the game between the Patriots and the Jets – a game the Patriots won 38-14. 

Though Benson, who is mentioned earlier, was recently forced to meet with Goodell due to his arrest for assault with bodily injury, he was not suspended for personal conduct violations.   Jets receiver Santonio Holmes was recently suspended for the first four games of the regular season although it was in response to the substance abuse policy of the NFL. 

Tennessee Titans quarterback Young was recently cited for assault after a strip club brawl in Dallas but will not be suspended for any length of time from that offense. 

For the sake of clarity, one can only hope that Goodell will provide clarification in the future in regards to the reasons for suspensions or lack of suspensions.  If certain players are to be suspended without charges and others will walk free there seems to be some explaining that should be in order.

And should a personal conduct policy really be in place for current NFL players?  If a retired player or someone such as a general manager makes a colossal mistake it will still reflect negatively on the image of the NFL even if they aren’t on the field of play every Sunday.

RELATED: Athletes Mugshot Gallery – Sports Climax

Used with permission of the author.

Cade Caldwell is an Atlanta-based sportswriter and contributor to Sports Climax.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Michael Vick threw a party, trouble was a guest

With the latest news that police in Virginia Beach have renewed their interest in Michael Vick while investigating a shooting on the night of his birthday party, lines have been drawn and sides chosen.

On one side are those that understand the reasoning behind a well paid NFL quarterback throwing a party at a local club, charging admission scaled for regular folks and VIPs, then expressing surprise at the criticism tossed at the birthday boy when violence results.

On the other side are people who understand the consequences of not planning for the unexpected results of all that.

Because the country has been divided on the opinion of Vick’s conviction, sentence, rehabilitation and reemergence as an NFL player, the latest news provides us with nothing new to gain insight into why there is such a disparity of feeling on the subject.

Vick at his post-prison press conference said he knew he would only get one chance at his “second chance”

Vick has what Commissioner Roger Goodell says is a “very limited” margin for error in his new life in the NFL, thus the investigation into the incident outside the club in Virginia is separated into two parts.

The NFL, as we have seen, hands down its own punishment despite there being no criminality proven or charged. Roger Goodell suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for making bad choices.

It will be interesting to note if the league comes down on the side of those that believe Vick put himself in a position to find trouble and thus violated the NFL’s short leash of discipline, whether or not the police find a connection between him and the shooting.

Roethlisberger told to undergo medical and psychological examination by NFL

The fact that Michael Vick’s word doesn’t close the door on a league investigation is pretty easy to understand. Vick’s previous criminal activity was denied repeatedly until he was surrounded by facts that made him admit his mistakes.

A no-strike policy doesn’t give one the presumption of innocence. It also doesn’t presume guilt. What it requires is proof of innocence in order to show that this time, there is no lying.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the decision to sell tickets to the public, not knowing who would show up, wasn’t run up the flag pole with Tony Dungy, the designated counselor for all purposes when it comes to Mike Vick.

How Tony Dungy got Michael Vick back into the NFL

Ben Roethlisberger is being taught the consequences of what he used to think was innocent behavior. No matter what age, change is hard and takes time. For Michael Vick, that time is now.

Re-printed with permission of the author.

Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for Examiner.com and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles. 

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

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Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez & Wife Naked in PETA Ad?

ATLANTA – Snatching catches from Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t the only endeavor NFL all-pro tight end Tony peta-adGonzalez has gotten involved in lately.

Gonzalez and his wife October may have posed nude for a PETA ad that promotes nudity over wearing fur.

“We should be protecting animals, not sacrificing their lives for the sake of fashion or luxury,” said Gonzalez in a recent interview. “October and I have changed many of our habits in light of the inhumane treatment of animals that occurs not only in the fur industry but also on factory farms.”

Maybe this gesture by the NFL superstar will be considered somewhat of a make-up and peace treaty to PETA.

The organization has shown bitterness and animosity toward the NFL after the league allowed Michael Vick to play after he was convicted and served time for running a dog-fighting ring.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Vick Deserves Fresh Start in the NFL

Since Michael Vick met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and cleared the first hurdle in returning to the NFL, Credit: APthe internet has become saturated with polls debating whether or not Goodell should have reinstated the player who was convicted of running an illegal dog-fighting ring and animal abuse.

Seeing the results of many of these polls favoring that Vick be banned from the NFL for life, it is evident how hostile and out-of-touch our country has become.

It’s like an emotional lynch-mobbing.

One Carolina television station poll showed viewers 61% in favor of a lifetime ban with comments like, “The judicial system sucks. [Vick] should be still in jail, leashed to his bunk.”

In recent history, several people have made serious mistakes, many more severe than Vick’s, but our society has elected to ignore those criminals while becoming obsessed with creating a villain out of Vick.

Over the years, the mainstream media and many of its followers have blown off the illegal behavior of corrupt politicians, athletes and businessmen, granting them forgiveness for their acts after they appear at a podium in their suit simply saying the words, “I’m sorry.”

Others like Vick pay a severe debt losing tens of millions of dollars while serving long prison sentences then find themselves battling an aggressive media and overzealous society when they are released.

What Michael Vick did was brutal, inhumane and illegal. He knows it, the general population knows it and the judicial system knows it, that’s why they acted on it so aggressively, hitting Vick with a sentence so severe, it could have destroyed the man’s life and career.

As with any other former prisoner who has paid their debt and served their time, our system is structured to offer a fair opportunity and reintroduce these United States citizens back into society.

Vick’s situation should be no different than anyone else who abused animals and served a sentence for the acts but because of his popularity many are labeling him as a villain who does not deserve the same opportunity other ex-convicts are granted.

When people fill sports blogs with comments how Vick should “never take another snap in the NFL,” where is their reasoning?

The man has spent almost two prime years of his life in prison for animal abuse. Think about that in its literal sense.

Do those opposing Vick’s return feel other ex-cons should not be allowed an opportunity to go back to the careers they had prior to their sentence? Should a bricklayer be banned from laying a roadway; an accountant banned from operating a calculator?

At the time of his conviction, Vick’s job was throwing a football in the NFL. It would be un-American to ban the accountant or bricklayer from returning to work, just as it would to ban Vick from returning to the career he had prior to his conviction.

Vick, once the highest-paid player in the NFL, released a statement regarding his return. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to commissioner Goodell for allowing me to be readmitted to the National Football League. As you can imagine, the last two years have given me time to re-evaluate my life, mature as an individual and fully understand the terrible mistakes I have made in the past and what type of life I must lead moving forward.”

I wish Vick the best and hope he capitalizes on an opportunity to show others how to take advantage of the opportunity granted to him by the NFL.

Thank you, Roger Goodell, for doing the right thing.

Related Stories:
Vick Should Be Compensated For Wine Bottles
Vick Makes Plea Deal
Vick Released From Federal Custody

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

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Vick Released From Federal Custody

ATLANTA – Michael Vick finished a dismal chapter of his life as a convict and is expecting to pursue donning an NFL  (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, Pool)jersey again.

Vick’s attorney Lawrence Woodward said outside Vick’s suburban Virginia home that the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback had been released from federal custody after completing his 23-month sentence for his dog-fighting conviction.

Now that Vick has formally paid his debt to society and traded in his home-confinement electronic monitor, he is expected to step up his efforts to resume his pro football career but it will not be in Atlanta.

With Associated Press 2008 NFC Offensive Rookie-of-the-Year Matt Ryan taking snaps for the Falcons, the team released Vick in June, making the former Pro-Bowler available to speak to other teams once he is cleared to play.

Vick is expected to request a meeting soon with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who earlier had promised to review Vick’s status after Vick completed his sentence.

A statement from the NFL did not include any timeline on when that meeting would take place. “The review of his status is ongoing, but we are providing no other details at this time,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

Back in April Goodell commented on Vick. “Michael did an egregious thing,” said Goodell. “He has paid a very significant price for that.”

To the displeasure of some of our fans and readers, Sports Climax took the stand that Vick should be compensated by the wine company who used his name as a marketing ploy to sell their product.

It’s hard not to agree with Goddell when he says the man has paid a huge price. It’s time to welcome Vick back into society and into the NFL in time for this upcoming season.

Copyright © 2009 – Sports Climax

Posted in Jocks Behind Bars, NFLComments (1)

Matt Ryan puts Falcons back on NFL map

ATLANTA – There’s a buzz around the city of Atlanta . . . the buzz?

The Atlanta Falcons have been put back on the NFL map.

The unexpected early success of the Falcons, (6-4 overall and 4-1 at the Georgia Dome) is lifting the fortitude of the city. Many predicted this young team with a rookie head coach to be a cellar-dweller.

That is certainly not the case and sports chatter is picking up steam at the local coffee houses and on the streets. The sports aura that hovered over the city had been depressing lately with the Falcons imploding.

Michael Vick was in shackles, the Falcon’s head coach Bobby Petrino like the ‘Cowardly Lion’ snuck out of town with his tail between his legs and many of the Falcons’ star players abandoned ship or were traded away for pennies on the dollar.

So much has changed in such a short time. The Falcons, under the leadership of rookie head coach Mike Smith and rookie-of-the-year candidate QB Matt Ryan continue to find ways to overcome the underdog role and win. In fact they have become favorites in some of their recent games.

The NFL has taken notice of the Falcons. The league pushed the November 23 Falcons/Panthers kickoff to 4:15 and upgraded the matchup to a national game.

Coach Smith commented on that compliment from the league, “It’s an honor for our football team for that to take place.”

Full story in The Sunday Paper-Atlanta

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Atlanta Sports Teams Creating Big Buzz

Previously published in The Sunday Paper – Atlanta November 16, 2008

ATLANTA, GA. – There’s a buzz around the ATL, and it’s gaining momentum by the minute. For some it’s a cure for the Matt Ryan Atlanta Falconsstress brought on by billion-dollar bailouts, drawn-out wars, historic home foreclosure rates, the threat of recession. This fix comes in the form of two birds: Hawks and Falcons.

The Atlanta Falcons (4-0 at the Georgia Dome, 6-3 overall) and Atlanta Hawks (6-1 as The Sunday Paper went to press on Thursday) both sprinted out of the gate with ferocious starts in 2008, and are putting Atlanta back on the sports map. The Hawks are enjoying their best start since 1997.

And after underachieving seasons by both the Braves and Thrashers, the timing couldn’t be better.

For years, sports fans have leaned on their teams to provide an escape from the pressures of everyday life. When those teams are winning, it helps pull the city and fans out of their funks.

Detroit is a perfect example. The Motor City holds the crown for most troubling economy and severe collapse in real estate values. But when their Red Wings or Pistons take home a crown, millions take to the streets to celebrate, leaving their troubles locked up at home (if it hasn’t been taken by the bank yet).

That’s what Atlanta is experiencing right now. In the coffeehouses and on the streets of this city, sports chatter is picking up steam. Spirits are being lifted.

“The sports bars have been packed with local fans,” says Vinings resident Megan Harpring. Megan is no stranger to sports-she played basketball at Georgia Tech, and her brother plays for the NBA’s Utah Jazz.

“It’s filling everyone’s lives with something positive, something exciting,” she continues. “The success of the Falcons-it’s a motivator. We’re getting excited about the next game, the next weekend.”

Lawrenceville resident Derek Wheeler, another avid sports fan who played baseball for UGA, attended the Falcons’ miraculous last-second comeback against the Bears this year at the Dome and the Hawks’ Game 6 win against the Celtics last season. He is thrilled with his local teams. “It’s unbelievable, isn’t it?” he says. “I never would have thought the Falcons would have a year like this. And the Hawks-last year wasn’t a fluke at all.”


This aura of excitement stands in sharp relief to the dark clouds that have hovered over the city in the recent past.

When Atlanta’s All-Pro quarterback Michael Vick was sent off to live behind bars, doom and gloom set in for the city’s sports fans. And it only got worse. Their star player in shackles, their team a laughingstock, their head coach Bobby Petrino snuck out of town in the dead of night with his tail between his legs. Many of the Falcons’ star players abandoned ship or were traded away for pennies on the dollar.

A lot has changed since then. The Falcons, under the leadership of rookie general manager Thomas Dimitroff, rookie head coach Mike Smith and rookie-of-the-year candidate Matt Ryan at quarterback, continue to find ways to overcome their underdog status and win games.

No longer are fans wondering whether the Falcons have what it takes. The new questions on the street are: “Michael who?” “Bobby who?”

The NFL is certainly taking notice of the new Falcons. The league pushed the Nov. 23 Falcons/Panthers kickoff to 4:15 p.m. and upgraded the matchup to a national game. “I think that … is confirmation that we are doing things right,” Coach Smith said during a press conference last week.

The 23-year-old Ryan, fresh out of Boston College, has replaced Vick in the hearts and minds of Falcon fans and the general public. Vick is still listed as “suspended” on the Falcons’ team roster, but most expect him to be officially released soon after he swaps his prison garb for civilian clothes sometime next year.

At the Falcons’ side are the overachieving Atlanta Hawks, led by All-Star Joe Johnson, who always manages to shine while coasting under the NBA radar.

The Hawks’ performance in last year’s NBA playoff series against the heavily favored Boston Celtics brought life back to the lackluster franchise. Those young, inexperienced Hawks were expected to be swept off the planet in four merciless games. But they refused to go down without a fight, taking the Celtics (who eventually took the championship) to seven games.

Seven games into the 2008-09 season (at press time), the Hawks are continuing where they left off. Before Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics, they were the only unbeaten team in the entire Eastern Conference-that’s right, a hotter start than the Celtics, Pistons or Cavaliers. The 2009 NBA All-Star ballot includes five Hawks: Johnson, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and Marvin Williams.


Local sports-talk radio programs have been bombarded with excited callers, heaping praise on the Hawks with comments like “They’re playing with passion” and “it’s awesome to watch.”

As Christopher Rude, co-host of the “Rude Awakening” morning show on 680 the Fan, put it: “Sports fans in Atlanta are guardedly optimistic.”

Marc Stein’s Week Two NBA power rankings on ESPN.com had the Hawks ranked fifth out of 30 teams in the league. “Atlanta has deservedly gate-crashed the top five with its first 5-0 start in a decade,” Stein wrote last week.

Considering that both teams’ rosters were recently stuffed with unknowns and rookies who were considered fortunate to be wearing pro uniforms, the fact that they’ve both stepped up and are quickly making names for themselves while returning a sense of pride to Atlanta fans seems nothing less than incredible.

I was at Ryan’s first game against the Detroit Lions, and witnessed his first NFL pass in front of his new hometown fans. The ball was snatched up by Michael Jenkins, who galloped 62 yards into the end zone. Last weekend against the New Orleans Saints, 22-year-old rookie Chevis Jackson intercepted a Drew Brees pass and raced 95 yards for a TD with 1:17 left to play, sealing another victory for the Falcons at the Dome.

Plays like these are like paper shredders, taking the heart-wrenching negative headlines we’ve been force-fed all week and slicing them to ribbons-at least for a moment.

We all need heroes. The larger-than-life champions in summer action films sweep us away from the doldrums of our current realities. And young, enthusiastic athletes like Matt Ryan and Al Horford, and men like Joe Johnson and John Abraham-guys who show up every day and play their hearts out, determined to overcome adversity-are doing the same.

Copyright © 2008 – Sports Climax

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Michael Vick should be paid for wine labels

There is no way to write an article about Michael Vick and please readers. Those who will never forgive him don’t want him to have a life outside of prison or in the world of professional sports.

His fans who never wanted to see him incarcerated don’t take kindly to the suggestion that he might never return to the NFL.

In light of this situation, I offer two separate pieces of news that came to my attention:

Vick’s bankruptcy lawyer is trying to convince a judge and a multitude of creditors that he can earn enough after he is out of jail to repay a portion of his debts to each of those that have been left holding the bag.

Thus a document filed by his lawyer makes it seem that it is inevitable his client will be reinstated by the NFL.

The second piece of news is that many of the dogs that were rescued from Vick’s home in Virginia are alive and still healing from their experiences. That is according to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, in Utah. Those dogs have become a symbol to animal rights groups who are using images of the animals to raise money. A wine company has created a brand of wine called “Vicktory” and the rescued pooches are the face, literally, of the wine collection.

I see how this collection would be an item of interest and earn money for the winemaker and the charities but it would assist Vick as well. I am waiting for his debtors to squawk to the bankruptcy judge and Vick’s lawyer that his client should be getting a cut of the wine sales.

Even though there is no picture of Mike Vick on the wine bottle, the clever use of his name in the brand name of the wine while attached to images of the dogs makes it plain that Vick is being used to sell the product.

If that’s true, despite his criminal record, he is entitled to lend his name for profit to companies that market goods and services. That means he should be paid.

And if he’s paid, his creditors will be able to recoup a small amount of what is owed to him.

I have not taken a position on all this and have tried not to be light hearted about it all. I’m just putting two news items together and wondering how it will all play out.

Life will continue to be difficult and complicated for Vick after he is released from prison. Maybe that is the way it’s supposed to be.

Tired of the same old sports page? Then check out Paula Duffy’s insightful (and often humorous) take on the sports day at her Examiner.com page! The popular co-host for Sports Journey Radio is also a contributor to the Huffington Post and founder of the sports learning site Incidental Contact. In her spare time, Duffy practices law in Los Angeles. But don’t hold that against her.

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Michael Vick to change plea on Dogfighting Charges

ATLANTA – Former Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick plans to change his plea next week on state dog-fighting charges in Virginia.

Vick initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but according to sources, will change his plea in a deal that would include a suspended sentence and one additional year of probation. 

Vick is currently serving a 23-month sentence in the Leavenworth, Kansas federal prison.

According to Surry County administrator, Sally Neblett, a court date and hearing for the state charges is scheduled for Oct. 30.

Vick’s attorneys made a motion to present the plea and it will be done via video camera from the Kansas facility.

The strategy by Vick and his legal team is to plea out on these state charges then hope to get an early release from the current 23-month sentence in return.

Vick’s former team, the NFL Falcons, is currently 4-2 and making giant strides with their rookie sensation and No. 3 overall draft pick, quarterback Matt Ryan.

Prior to his arrest and conviction, Vick was the highest paid player in the NFL after signing a contract said to be worth the neighborhood of $100 million.

Copyright © 2008 – Sports Climax

Posted in Jocks Behind Bars, NFLComments (0)

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