Monday night put a new twist on "martyr."
Can you blame Bobby Petrino for failing to address the Falcons players on his way out the door? I'll admit he did little to distinguish himself in his five minutes on the job. On the other hand, Petrino accomplished something pretty amazing when he found a way to make Nick Saban look downright tenacious as an NFL head coach. In spite of all the easy negatives here, the math is pretty simple and ugly on this one: Just how bad have things gotten that you take a $2 million-a-year pay cut and leave Atlanta for ... Arkansas?
Let that one marinate for a minute, then ask yourself if you wouldn't have done the same thing after watching the nightmare that was the Falcons' performance against the Saints on Monday night. It's bad enough they looked like a flag football team, but hitting the field adorned with all that pro-Mike Vick regalia took the madness to another level -- a deep, deep ring of hell called "Get Arkansas on the blower and let's make a deal!"
DeAngelo Hall with "MV7" drawn on his cheek? Bad enough, but nowhere close to Roddy White unveiling his "Free Mike Vick" T-shirt -- so stupid, I'm amazed the words were spelled correctly. In a world where the NFL fines players for playing with their socks rolled down, what on earth is the fallout for all that pro-felon fire? Why so soft? Why not really make your point and unveil a T-shirt that reads "Stay strong, dog killa!"
Free Mike Vick?
One more time, all together now, and if you don't know the words mouth along with me: dude electrocuted dogs.
How 'bout you walk him on a leash for 23 months? I've met my share of people and dogs, and I'll take dogs every time, but the prevailing attitude of everyone with a Sharpie Monday night seemed to be that 23 months in jail is waaaay too long for dog murder -- including the idiotic father who brought his little son to the game, painted him and his Mohawk Falcon red, and hoisted him above the crowd so the little lad could share with the world a sign that read "Keep your head up, Vick!"
Actually, it's not such bad advice given where No. 7 is heading. Gen-pop's a bitch.
Judged by the supportive, knee-jerk comments from Clinton Portis when the story broke or Monday night's show of solidarity, it's pretty obvious there is a large contingency of NFL players and fans who think Vick's sentencing is a joke, a miscarriage of justice. I'm still trying to get a handle on this one. Whose sins did Vick's career die for, brutalized pit bulls? White clearly doesn't want to admit that his QB did a bad thing and now he's paying the price, just as Vick apparently didn't comprehend that this whole "contrition" thing might have spared him a few of the 23 months he'll be spending in the slammer. The judge said as much at his sentencing.
That being said, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and Monday night's relentless signage may indicate that I'm in the minority on this one. Hell, if that's the case, maybe the league should consider expansion teams in Idaho and Wyoming, where dogfighting remains merely a misdemeanor, only reinforcing the rest of the nation's assumption that both states are, at best, civilization-adjacent.
Oh well, I guess I'll just have to take comfort in the knowledge that Vick gets to spend the next two years sleeping three feet away from a toilet ... and that despite all that prime-time protest, the Saints made the Falcons lay down faster than one of Vick's accomplices with a plea bargain on the table.
Two wrongs don't make a right
It's unusual to see a franchise get called out so thoroughly by one of its "network partners," but man, NBC didn't spare the rod on this one. You had painful and damning quotes from locals accusing Robert Irsay of, among many other things, "sin." Don't get me wrong -- I completely agree. I've spent my share of column space right here decrying franchise relocation as nothing short of a crime that runs roughshod over the hearts of a community. I rank it right up there with unattended car alarms and the dialogue on "The Gilmore Girls."
In fact, I happened to have been in Baltimore on that snowy night, ensconced at the Morris Mechanic Theater with a road show I was touring in at the time, and I shared the local outrage. The Colts were a part of the fabric of the city, and their legendarily great fans didn't deserve such a cruel outcome. The feature pounded the righteous hurt home, even showing the scoreboard to illustrate that when the Colts come back to town, Baltimore refuses to acknowledge them as "Colts," using the abbreviated "Indy" instead.
Fair enough, but for heaven's sake how can you tell this story and fail to add a castigating voice decrying the way Baltimore evened the score -- by stealing the Browns away from Cleveland?! As great as the Colts tradition was in Baltimore, as great as the fandom was, the Browns were one of the few teams with the history, the championships, and the fan passion to eclipse it -- yet the wronged city of Baltimore had no problem robbing Cleveland just as they were robbed. Then, just to prove the football gods don't give a damn, they went on to win a Super Bowl with Cleveland's team.
I think it's time for Baltimore to put all the rage in long-term parking and admit the truth: takes one to know one.
They say what comes around goes around, and at long last the Browns are on the verge of a much-deserved run at the playoffs. Next time we get our heads back into the game on the field with a long hard look at the most unlikely of playoff-impact showdowns: Browns vs. Bills. Wait a minute, did I just type that? By god, I did, and the game of the week gets what it deserves: a complete breakdown, Manly House of Football-style ...