My name is Andrew Montgomery. I am a life-long football fan. I grew up in Milwaukee, WI, and lived there for over thirty years, and am a proud fan of the Green Bay Packers. I moved to Portland, OR in 1999, and brought my love of football with me. My wife was not a fan of football. She didn't mind the game so much, but held the belief that most of the players were nothing but rich men who used their money and perceived power to get away with poor behavior off the field. I told her that that may be true for some; there are bad apples in every bunch, and football is no exception, but there is much nobility and honor in football and the men who play it, and it can often be a worthy test of the goodness and honor of the players involved. With that in mind, she started humoring me by watching Packer games with me. To my delight, she actually started becoming more interested in the games, and was touched a number of times by the more recent moments in the history of Brett Favre--personal and professional.
And now we have this.
When Michael Vick was drafted, I explained to her why it was such a big deal. I explained that there weren't any quarterbacks in the recent past, nor the foreseeable future, that could have the impact on the league--and the GAME--that Vick could have. And with Favre's retirement growing more imminent, this would be more important.
She came to me yesterday, and she took time and great pains to tell me that if Michael Vick ever plays NFL football again, she'll refuse to watch. It doesn't matter if it's a game he's not in--if he plays for the NFL again, she's never going to willingly be exposed to it. She said "If they let him back in, I'll be convinced that it's truly only about the money."
Sir, I fully agree with her.
I understand all too well the importance of Vick to the game. I understand all too well the concept of "brand", and what importance star power is to a team, and the league. But respectfully, sir, if Michael Vick ever suits up for an NFL team again, you can take this game and shove it.
How despicable, sir! These men already make salaries that--on average--dwarf those of 99% of the working world's pay, yet we are expected to still think that football is a "working man's game"? That's been an insult to my intelligence for years, yet I've stayed a fan. I suffered through some of the most embarrassing episodes of criminality with teams past, where these men (often mere BOYS) simply buy their way out of trouble with settlements, yet I've stayed a fan. I've watched as a good, honest game got turned upside down by misbehavior on and off the field, yet I stayed a fan.
Sir, no more.
Michael Vick still does have a very important role to serve in the NFL, and that is one of an _example_, and by that, I mean an example to both NFL players AND the public that KEEPS THE NFL IN BUSINESS.
NO ONE should be allowed to play a professional sport after admitting to--or being found to be complicit in through criminal trial--such heinous behavior. This is no mere mistake in judgment. This is no "oops". This is behavior bred out of arrogance, elitism and false-power that is FOSTERED BY THE CULTURE OF PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES AND THOSE WHO SURROUND THEM.
I am sick of hearing the pundits and talking-heads blather on about how Vick is fairing worse in the public eye than if he were to have murdered someone. I find that a completely insulting straw-man argument. Mr. Vick has lied, repeatedly and blatantly, to the press, the public, and to YOU PERSONALLY, Mr. Goodell. He was counting on his money and his position to either keep him out of this trouble, or to mollify it. Unfortunately for Mr. Vick (and fortunately for those of us who value the truth, let alone the lives of innocent animals) Mr. Vick's associates decided that their own well-being wouldn't be answered for by protecting his complicity in--nay, his SPONSORSHIP of--this atrocity. I would thank those men if I didn't think I'd need to wash my mouth with soap after doing so.
THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE HAS AN ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY TO BAN MICHAEL VICK FROM THE GAME OF NFL FOOTBALL FOREVER, FOR THE WELFARE OF THE LEAGUE AND THE HISTORY AND TRADITIONS OF THE SPORT IT REPRESENTS.
You MUST assert that the league will not tolerate those who knowingly and willfully act in a completely unethical manner, and expect to simply pay some fines, sit out a game or a season, and then resume their careers as if nothing has happened. If the NFL does not take a stand on this issue, I believe that it will never recover from this. I am one fan, and I say that if he suits up for another NFL team, you'll never get me to watch again. I won't even watch Favre's last moments, no matter how much that--as a fan--may pain me to not be a part of. But I simply will not stand by quietly while you show tacit acceptance of the thuggery and criminality that is the growing undercurrent of professional sports. Not only that, but I will actively encourage others to give up the support of the game, and work very vocally to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the NFL, who, in the NFLPA's Personal Conduct Policy clearly states:
"The League is committed to promoting and encouraging lawful conduct..."
"It will be considered conduct detrimental for Covered Persons to engage in (or to aid, abet or conspire to engage in or to incite) violent and/or criminal activity. Examples of such Prohibited Conduct include, without limitation:
...racketeering; money laundering; obstruction of justice; resisting arrest; fraud; and violent or threatening conduct."
"Any Covered Person convicted of or admitting to a criminal violation (including a plea to a lesser included offense; a plea of nolo contendere or no contest....will be subject to discipline as determined by the Commissioner. Such discipline may include a fine, suspension without pay and/or banishment from the League."
Mr. Goodell, you are the ONLY person who has any power to do anything about this. Mr. Vick has cast his lot, and admitted his involvement. If you leave it up to the Atlanta Falcons to deal with as a "team matter" as you have done in the past, the entire world (and I personally) will find that to be a completely unethical, spineless cop-out, and I will personally hold you and the NFL accountable. If you do anything less than a ban, the world will know that the NFL doesn't have the guts to stand up for what's right--only what makes the league money.
This is the most serious criminal issue to ever affect professional football, make no mistake. So I'll cut through all the hyperbole and say this very clearly and succinctly to you Mr. Commissioner.
Do NOT screw this up. BAN MICHAEL VICK FROM THE NFL, or forever be known for simply letting money and power rule over the honor of a once-great tradition, and guarantee that I will never, ever watch another game of NFL football.