Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vick, The Eagles & The NFL Conduct Policy

Michael Vick if you are reading this blog here is my advice – Saturday night stay home and watch Millionaire Matchmaker. It’s a fun show about socially inept millionaires who can’t find their own dates.

Vick allegedly got in a confrontation outside a Virginia Beach nightclub following his 30th birthday party - a situation that developed before a shooting that left Quanis Phillips wounded. No charges were filed and law enforcement officials have said that Vick is not a target of an investigation.

Still Vick has his problems. He’s apparently still associating with Phillips, one of his co-conspirators in the dogfighting enterprise.

On top of that, according to recent reports, Vick can’t leave the state of Pennsylvania. He’s been denied travel privileges by probation officials after missing a pair of schedule meetings. This made him a no-show at his own golf tourney.

There are persistent rumors that the Eagles may cut Vick (and bring in Jeff Garcia or trade for Troy Smith). If Vick is cut, he may not find employment in the NFL again.

That aside, it’s open for the NFL to step in and suspend Vick under its personal conduct policy. The policy is designed to help control off-field behavior by its players and preserve the league's public image. The policy, introduced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, only applies to the player's personal lives and image in the public spotlight. The NFL conducts separate investigations for drug and alcohol abuse and performance enhancement.

Remember Ben Roethlisberger? Criminal charges were never filed. Still, the NFL under is personal conduct policy suspended Roethlisberger for what the NFL characterized as a chronic pattern of poor judgement and bad decisions. The NFL went out of its way not to suggest that Roethlisberger had committed a crime:

“I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you,” Goodell said in his letter to the six-year veteran.

“My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.

"Your conduct raises sufficient concerns that I believe effective intervention now is the best step for your personal and professional welfare.”

So Vick may have more to worry about than being cut by the Eagles.

Mike – Millionaire Matchmaker is on at 10pm on Saturdays.


Daniel Gilbeau said...

Come on Eric, how can you expect Vick to stay home and just watch TV. I mean being out there in the line of fire is the edge he thinks he still needs to compete in the NFL.

You would think he would learn from his past mistakes, being given the ultimate second chance but some never learn.
I agree, I think the NFL has one of the best disciplinary actions of any sport.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to consider the NFL's personal conduct policies from an employment law perspective. By all accounts Vick behaved as reasonably as possible in these circumstances and was not even there for the shooting. Video surveillance shows him leaving. Yet, this incident could lead to further punishment from the league and possibly lead to the end of his NFL career. Vick would then be deprived of his ability to earn a livelihood. Obviously part of playing in the NFL is accepting that you must comply with certain codes of conduct, but short of cutting off contact with his friends and family, what exactly should he have done differently here? Why does the league, as his employer have the right to exert punishment this far reaching? The suspension of Ben Roethlisberger makes a little more sense to me. Clearly, he didn’t learn his lesson the first time and he continued to put himself in compromising positions. Hopefully losing $1,000,000 and having his team hate him will be motivation for him to pause and think twice before he engages in another bathroom bar stall tryst. But punishing Vick for being friends with idiots seems to be too much. The reach of the league and the severity of the consequences seem entirely unfair and out of line the employer’s rights.