The other day, I was sitting in a restaurant when I overheard a couple of sports fans, (at the table next to mine) shooting the sports breeze. One of them said something along the lines of, "You gotta like Roger Goodell, he just sits there and says (Michael) Vick can't play for like, 8 games... I mean, where does he get the right to just dictate that?"
Technical details of the suspension notwithstanding, I couldn't help but marvel at the question. I had to restrain myself from blurting out, "Well, Einstein, he gets the right because he's THE !@#$&* COMMISSIONER OF THE LEAGUE!"
It was a stupid question to be sure, but (believe it or not) the guy actually was on to something... kind of like the first caveman who tried to move fire to a better location... with his bare hands.
But then Goodell turns around and levies a multi-game suspension. That's where you start to lose me. It just seems a bit arbitrary.
Do I think what Vick did was wrong? Absolutely.
Should he be let back into the league? Not sure... but it's not my decision to make. It's Goodell's (lord knows there are a couple of teams that could use him).
But it also seems to me to be a simple "Yeah or Nay" call.
If he's back in—he's back in... if he's out—he's out! What purpose does it serve to let him back in, but then suspend him for X-number games? I see no real logic here. In fact, it gives him a few games to practice before he has to face the genuine situation, so as a "punishment" it's a tad dubious.
The guy in the restaurant who asked the inane question may have missed the obvious answer, but upon further thought, he may be dancing around a better question: Just what is Goodell trying to accomplish with this decision? Is the suspension a legitimate punishment for soiling the reputation of the league? Or is it simply a symbolic (impotent) gesture?