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NFL worried Vick not alone

Posted by on Jul. 25, 2007 at 2:12 PM
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In the wake of the NFL putting Michael Vick on the shelf for the foreseeable future, the NFL has to seriously investigate how many players might be involved in dogfighting. And they have no idea what they might find.

"I would bet you," Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber told me, "that every player in the NFL knows someone who has been to a dogfight."

Dogfighting is such a shadowy business. It's not like there's a schedule printed in the small type of USA Today. There has been a lot of skepticism about the Falcons' assertion that the club knew nothing about Vick's alleged involvement in the cruel bloodsport. If a team truly didn't know its marquee player was heavily involved (if he actually was) in such a heinous activity, then what about the fringe players?

It's certain that the NFL has its antennae up now about dogfighting. Each team's security officials will be asked to try to discover whether any current players are into it. Already, the NFL has told its internal security people -- who make a trip to NFL training camp every summer -- to include warnings against participating in dogfighting in their normal anti-drug, anti-gambling and anti-domestic violence program. The NFL will do anything it can to make sure there are no further scandals lurking around the corner.

LIKE MANY PEOPLE, PHIL WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT VICK'S FUTURE. From Phil Wickenburg of Ariz.:"What do you personally think the odds are of Vick ever playing for the Falcons again? Even money? Less than that?"

Three to one against Vick ever playing in Atlanta again. Think about the immediate future. In all likelihood, Vick will not be with the Falcons during training camp, so he won't be able to adjust to coach Bobby Petrino's new offense. By the time he's free to rejoin the team -- if that time even comes this year -- I expect owner Arthur Blank to suspend the quarterback for the first four games of the regular season without pay. So imagine if Vick is kept away from the team for the next 10 weeks. More and more, I'm thinking the most likely scenario, at some point this summer, is that Blank will simply cut Vick and put this sordid episode behind him.

A CHANGE OF PACE FROM VICK. From David Chapman of Fullerton, Calif.: "Is Chargers GM A.J. Smith really going to let running back Michael Turner go at the end of the season for nothing? I watched a replay of a Chargers game and NFL people have to know how good he is -- he would start on most teams.

The problem with projecting what's going to happen with a running back 16 games down the road is injuries. You never know whether someone like LaDainian Tomlinson will make it through this season unscathed. An injury to Tomlinson would affect Turner's future in San Diego. I agree with you. Turner is deceivingly big and runs with a quickness and ferocity that show me he's starter material in the NFL. I think that if nothing major changes in San Diego with Tomlinson's health and incredible production, it's likely Turner will be allowed to leave in free agency.

IS CULPEPPER AN OPTION? From Ryan Lehi of Utah. "Why wouldn't the Falcons take a shot at Daunte Culpepper? It would certainly make suspending/cutting Vick a lot easier to stomach, and would also spare them from having to totally revise the playbook for Joey Harrington."

I think they should. Petrino has no idea who his quarterback will be on opening day 2008. If he could add a formerly prolific starter without guaranteeing him the starting job, he should do it in a heartbeat. The only problem is that Culpepper will have better options -- particularly in Jacksonville.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. From Greg of Denver: "Did you see the exchange that took place between Amy Trask of the Raiders and Mike Pereira, head of NFL officiating. At the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission's NFL charity event, Pereira was discussing the complaints lodged by teams each Monday. He said a blown pass interference call with the game on the line was at issue, remarking, "I was really tempted to mention the six turnovers earlier in the game.'' Trask, also on the panel, said, "That's so not the point. After 59 minutes and you are in position to win a game ... " She was cut off by Pereira, who said, "And you haven't been in that position a lot the past four years.'' It's simply unprofessional and ridiculous coming from the head of NFL officiating, who would rather deflect blame and poke fun than acknowledge a mistake that was made. It is these types of comments that fuel the ridiculous "Raiders versus the NFL" mentality.

I was present for that exchange. In a very droll way, Pereira was joking. To me, it's not that big a deal.

ARTERY-CLOGGING ADVICE. From Chad of Orlando: Your column mentioned that you are starting your camp tour this year in Rochester for the Bills. You must eat a garbage plate at Nick Tahou's in downtown Rochester. It is a Rochester delicacy: macaroni salad, home fries and two burgers, all piled on top of each other with a special meat sauce mixed in. Nowhere else in the country can you find something that tastes as good.

If I do get it, I would have to share it with 15 people. Because if I ate all of that myself, first of all I would explode. Secondly, I would cancel out all my offseason work taking care of myself.

by on Jul. 25, 2007 at 2:12 PM
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