Today's Names to Know: Michael Vick, Roger Goodell, A-Rod and Giambi, Cole Hamels, Emmanuel Moody, Ryan Seacrest and Dan Patrick. Let's get going...
Michael Vick's lawyers tell him to accept a plea deal, as early as this morning (there's reportedly a 9 a.m. deadline). (h/t NY Times)
The deal would include 12-18 months of jail time. Wow. I know that this has been coming, but now that it's here, it's pretty crazy: Michael Vick WILL be going to jail, and we're talking YEARS here.
What about the NFL's punishment? They're obviously most concerned with the gambling angle, but a Vick guilty plea would let Goodell off the hook:
He can keep Vick out of the league as long as he's in prison, and he can punt on the harder decision about whether to ban him further for either the crimes themselves or the non-legal "personal conduct" violations related to the gambling, which the league may or may not have evidence about.
That punishment can come later – when Goodell can read the public mood about Vick. Presumably, fans will be more forgiving (if not forgetting) about letting him back in the league after he's done two hard years in prison. But the Cellblock D intramural team just got a HELL of a lot better.
NFL Camping: Is the Vick scandal eclipsing the rest of the NFL? I'm a cynic/skeptic, but I'm with Roger Goodell when he insists that it isn't. And it says a hell of a lot about the power of the NFL that it can take a bodyblow like this one involving one of its signature players and still keep on clicking. (Goodell can thank fantasy football and that old standby, NFL gambling. I'm being totally serious.)
NFL this weekend: Drop your preferred storylines in the Comments.
NFL.com relaunches with a new design: Having used to work for NFL.com (about a half-dozen jobs and lifetimes ago), I'm intrigued. It's an improvement – a serious improvement.
I'm still not sold on the editorial content (it IS a league P.R. vehicle), but the video assets are unarguably fantastic... and that's the entire game right there for NFL.com. They should try to do two things really well: Video and Fantasy, which mostly means having an awesome Sunday scoreboard experience.
My biggest complaint about NFL.com video: Where is the ability to embed NFL videos on blogs? (Without that function, all that happens is that they have to upload their fun videos – like the Fantasy series, which is awesome – to YouTube. The league gets the promotion, sure, but they don't get the actual traffic to their site.)
Speaking of gambling: Looks like Rick Tocchet won't serve any jail time. What a reminder of NHL's mainstream irrelevancy that they can claim "Hey! We had a gambling scandal FIRST!" and not only has it been eclipsed by gambling scandals in the NBA and NFL, but its main gambling guy won't even see jail for it.
MLB Stud: Cole Hamels, the Phillies' young ace who earned his 14th win and has positioned himself as the NL's leading Cy candidate, particularly with the Phillies' surge into NL East contention.
More MLB Pennant Racing: The Cards are surging after sweeping the Brewers. In the
A-Rod in 2008: If A-Rod opts out of his contract, the Yankees are SAYING they won't try to re-sign him. That's quite the threat, given that A-Rod is the front-runner for AL MVP (and has reclaimed his title as the best player in baseball). Meanwhile, A-Rod can probably not only command more money, but find a more comfortable market to play in. (Though unless he signs with
Giambi won't be punished by MLB, a carrot for talking with the steroid commission: Bud Selig sends a signal here – cooperate and we'll go leniently on you. (But will EVERY player get the Giambi treatment, or does he catch a break because he got in line early?)
Julio Franco Watch: He's playing for the Braves' A-ball affiliate... and he turns 49 next week. (The Braves would rather keep him close to Atlanta than have him shuttling around the East in AAA.) Basically, the guy has to hang on one more year and make it back to the bigs: Who doesn't want to see him at 50 taking an MLB at-bat?
CFB: USC RB Emmanuel Moody is transferring from the program over playing time. This is kind of amusing because Moody was among the three USC RBs featured on the regionalized cover of SI's college football preview issue. (h/t Fanhouse)
Given my fandom for Darren McFadden (who, don't forget, earned my personal Heisman Trophy a year ago), I'm sort of comfortable with SI dubbing the season the "Year of the Running Back," but I wouldn't have showcased USC's RBs: The reason USC is a consensus No. 1 is because of defense first, then its offensive balance. Not its RBs.
This is hard to capture on a magazine cover, but I'd say the theme of the year is offensive innovation: LSU has a sick D, but the intrigue is new OC Gary Crowton's wild offense. Darren McFadden is spectacular, but the intrigue is how he has basically created an entire offensive scheme (if retro) around himself, including using him as a QB. Obviously, Urban Meyer turned conventional wisdom on its head by using two QBs with no classic running back. Rich Rodriguez at
Ryan Seacrest to host Super Bowl pre-game and halftime: This isn't ludicrous. Both are entirely entertainment driven, and Seacrest is the face of Fox's entertainment wing. Does he command respect as a football guy? No: But since when are the Super Bowl pre-game or halftime shows about football? (Seacrest's biggest problem is helping Fox find an act that could compare to last season's Prince halftime, which was arguably the best and most credible halftime show in Super Bowl history.)
Happy trails to Dan Patrick, joining the elite group of folks (cough!) who formerly worked for ESPN. I wish him half as much success as I've had. (Kidding, of course... unlike Dan, I had no sweet syndicated radio show deal to jump over to... I did, however, have a sweet syndicated blog to jump over to... one-year anniversary in two weeks!) Anyway, DP, if you want any tips on blogging for your new site, give me a holler. Happy to help.Bolt.com closes: Not sports-related, but I joined Bolt in 1999 as employee No. 30(-ish) to be their sports section producer (among other things) and rode the Silicon Alley dot-com bubble all the way to the point where we topped 200 employees a year later, pulled the planned IPO and began the slow descent. Before that happened, I bailed out for business school, but I've still got a pricey memento: A stock certificate. Sure, it cost me a couple hundred bucks of "real" money to claim at the time, but its sentimental value is priceless as an artifact of a long-gone era. (Wow, between the NFL.com and Bolt mentions, that's two of my many career stops and multiple lifetimes ago. In one blog post! At this rate, I'll have my full c.v. posted by the end of next week.)
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