NFL officials still carry negative feelings about Michael Vick's criminal past, and that could affect how they officiate him on the field of play, theorized ESPN's Tom Jackson on Sunday NFL Countdown this morning. Here's TJ, in his own words:
Jackson did say that he doesn't believe officials "are doing anything biased against Mike Vick," but everything else he said pretty much conveyed that exact message. They're not making a conscious decision to do it, but Jackson seems to believe it is happening.
And if Jackson's right, obviously, that's unacceptable. If the NFL determines that a guy is eligible to play, then that guy deserves to be treated and officiated like any other player on the field. Officials are to make football rules judgments. Not moral judgments.
It's an interesting theory. There are still a lot of people who harbor an intense dislike of Vick, and there's no reason officials would be immune to that. But I think there are too many things happening way too fast on an NFL field for officials to take things like that into consideration. And even if there was time to think like that, I don't think they would. They know it's their job to be impartial, and they're under way too much scrutiny to be making intentionally slanted decisions.