Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday June 4, 2007 8:54AM; Updated: Friday June 8, 2007 9:52AM
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the latest volley in Roger Goodell's war on bad behavior will come today, or Tuesday at the latest. You can expect Chicago defensive tackle Tank Johnson to get suspended for more than four games for his gun violations that resulted in two months of jail time in Chicago. I'm guessing six, but Goodell may give Johnson half a season -- eight games -- for violating his probation on gun charges. The reason Goodell may not be harder on Johnson than he was on Pacman Jones or Chris Henry, may be that Johnson's already done jail time for his crime ... and that Johnson has been especially contrite about his screwups. When he met with Goodell last month, Johnson told the commish his goal is rebound from his screwups to be the NFL's Man of the Year.
2. I think, from what I hear, the feds have a good case against Michael Vick. And if I were Vick, I wouldn't be quite so smug about his chances of beating this dogfighting rap. The only good thing, from his perspective, seems to be that there's a decent chance that by the time the case is adjudicated, the 2007 season will probably be over. So if the Falcons can deal with the controversy surrounding Vick this year, they might be able to struggle through the season with Vick playing. I stress might.
3. I think I'd bet you a lot of money that if you put Arthur Blank, Rich McKay and Bobby Petrino on sodium pentathol, they'd tell you they wish they'd never pulled the trigger on the Matt Schaub trade. Just to be on the safe side, Petrino has to get Joey Harrington ready to play this summer. Not that Harrington will definitely be on the field, but I can guarantee you the Falcons did not sign Harrington thinking they were going to need him as more than a spot replacement guy.
4. I think I wonder what United Football League franchise Vick will be quarterbacking in 2009. Maybe the Norfolk Waves.
5. I think I'll address the UFL idea more fully in the coming weeks. For today, a couple of quick thoughts after reading the two-page story by business columnist Joe Nocera in Sunday's New York Times.
I think another league would be great for the sport, the business or football, and for players, fans and cities shut out of the NFL. But even if the league can find eight cities and eight owners (that seems the lowest number of teams for a credible league) willing to lose $100 million or $200 million each over five years while the league is getting established, the UFL would still have a monstrous problem. We don't need it.
We have enough sports already. And to get America to pay attention to a new league -- the American people, the American sports media -- will be as Herculean a task as other challenge the league will face. Quick story for you: A few years ago, when that wacky XFL was starting up, I was at a taping of a TV show with New York sports radio host Mike Francesa. Someone asked Francesa, host of the wildly successful "Mike and the Mad Dog'' radio show on WFAN in New York, about having guests from the XFL's New York franchise, or maybe even the XFL commissioner, on his radio program. "Never,'' he said.
You think Francesa was alone? Imagine trying to convince power players like Francesa and the sports editor of the Boston Globe and the people who program SportsCenter about pushing aside the mountain of stuff they have on their plates for even limited coverage of the UFL.
I do think the entrepreneurial spirit will be alive in places like Las Vegas and Mexico City. You'll find some deep-pocketed people who want the league and fans who will attend. But let's say Orlando gets a franchise. Forget whatever stadium problem you might have, and think of this: Are there people in central Florida -- people who are crazy about their Friday night high school football, crazy about their Saturday afternoon college football, crazy about their Saturday night football, and then crazy about their Sunday afternoon, Sunday night and Monday night NFL football -- who will see a new football franchise in town and say, "Just what we need! More football!''
Good luck, guys. It's a heck of a hill to climb. Finally, one last thing: I've never seen an upstart league try as hard as the Arena Football League does. The league is making some inroads after 20 years, and it's a frenetic, fun game. But NBC dropped the Arena league last year. The 2006 Arena Bowl did a 0.7 rating. Last month, on CBS, the NCAA women's gymnastics championship did a 0.9. You can say the Arena league's not real football, or that you can't judge it because it's played in football's offseason, and the UFL will play in the fall. True, true and true. For football's sake, I hope the UFL flies. But I don't think it will.
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