"It's something that is part of our culture. I'm not saying I was right…I just didn't think it was anything bad."
This is part of a statement Pedro Martinez released after a video surfaced of Martinez and Juan Marichal participating in a cockfighting event in the Dominican Republic.
At this very moment, Roger Goodell is wondering whether or not he should ban Mike Vick for life. If he does indeed ban Vick, it can only be based on moral grounds. Vick has already done his time, and he has paid for it, both figuratively and literally. Anything Goodell chooses to tack on would be punishment based on a moral standard held by the NFL that is higher than the moral standard held by the United States of America.
If Goodell does ban a first-time offender like Vick for life, he is obligated to call on the lifetime bans of several other professional athletes throughout sports.
The first phone call he should make is to fellow commissioner Bud Selig. Current players Pedro Martinez and Aramis Ramirez, as well as Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, have all been involved in cockfighting. Unless Goodell wants to send a mixed message, he must call on Selig to ban Martinez and Ramirez from the game forever. If he can get Marichal kicked out of the Hall, all the better.
If Goodell bans Vick for life, he must also call for boxer/cockfighter Roy Jones Jr. to be stripped of all his title belts. Never mind that Jones Jr., like the baseball players, cockfights legally in the Dominican Republic. American law was too lenient on Mike Vick the dogfighter, and Dominican law is far too lenient on Roy Jones Jr. the cockfighter.
The last, and perhaps most important step Goodell can take is to sever all ties that the NFL has with the worldwide leader in sports. After all, ESPN’s website has entire articles written about the finer points of bullfighting. Yes, it’s true, the same ESPN that effectively crucified Mike Vick also glorifies a “sport” that is nothing more than the prolonged torture and brutal slaying of disoriented animals.
If Roger Goodell doesn’t take the necessary steps to condemn all blood sports in the same manner that he has aggressively condemned dogfighting, then his banning of Vick will reek of hypocrisy.
It won’t be easy, blood sports are culturally accepted all over the globe. There is bullfighting in Spain, cockfighting in the Dominican Republic, and dogfighting in urban America.
We should all denounce blood sports, whatever and wherever they may be. But when we start disciplining participants beyond the normal rule of law, we had better be prepared to go all the way.
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