Shutdown Corner - NFL

With Michael Vick's(notes) release from prison today, thoughts automatically turn to his eventual reinstatement to the NFL. Some people feel strongly that he does deserve another chance in the league. Some others feel strongly that Vick's NFL playing privileges should be lost forever. As with anything involving Vick, there's very little middle ground.

In trying to find the answer, though, let's look at other players around the league in order to find out what the league will tolerate, and who they feel is fit to represent the NFL on Sundays.

Four cases to consider:

1. Leonard Little(notes). In 1998, St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little got behind the wheel of a car with a blood alcohol level almost twice the legal limit. He hit and killed a woman and eventually pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Six years later, with the manslaughter charge on his record and a woman's death on his conscience, Little was arrested again for driving while intoxicated. Police pulled him over for doing 78 in a 55-mph zone, he admitted to drinking and failed three roadside sobriety tests.

Is that better or worse than Michael Vick?

2. Jared Allen(notes). Allen's been arrested three times for driving under the influence; once in 2002, and then twice in 2006.

Is that better or worse than Michael Vick?

3. Jerramy Stevens(notes). In 1998, Stevens admitted to stomping on a man's face after a friend hit the man in the head with a baseball bat. In 2000, Stevens was arrested and accused of rape, though police eventually decided not to pursue charges. The accuser later filed a civil suit, and Stevens agreed to pay the accuser a reported $300,000. In 2001, Stevens crashed his car into a nursing home. In 2003, he pled guilty to reckless driving driving and driving while intoxicated. In 2007, he was arrested in Arizona for driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol content of .204.

Is that better or worse than Michael Vick?

4. Chris Henry. Since being drafted by the Bengals in 2005, Chris Henry has been arrested five times, with charges that include gun possession, providing alcohol to minors, driving under the influence, and probation violations.

Is that better or worse than Michael Vick?

I don't single these guys out to cast aspersions on them, and I'm not saying that they don't deserve a second chance, third chance, sixth chance, or whatever chance they're currently on. I know it's a very slippery slope trying to compare one man's crimes to another's, too, but really, that's what Roger Goodell and the NFL-loving public have to do when they decide if they can live with having Michael Vick back.

These guys serve as examples of what we do tolerate -- and make no mistake, you consent to the presence of these four guys and everyone else in the NFL with every second you spend watching games, and every cent you spend on tickets, merchandise, or anything else NFL-related -- every Sunday during the season. Keep them in mind when deciding whether or not you can accept an NFL that empoys someone who did what Michael Vick did.

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