Friday, August 31, 2007

Skins show their stuff

The Redskins lost their final preseason game to the Jaguars big time. Personally, I'm fine with it.

I saw enough from the starters -- who weren't the real starters -- to be confident that Washington will contend for a playoff spot.

I'm not saying Super Bowl. I'm not even saying they take the division. But, they will contend.

Jason Campbell looked sharp. Rocky McIntosh looked sharp. H.P. Blades looked sharp. Marcus Mason looked real sharp. 'Twaan Randle El was the leading receiver; one catch, but it was a dusey.

Photo: Casey Bramlet and Jason Campbell (AP)

Then, a lot of guys who won't be with the team Sunday played in the second half and flubbed the game away, allowing two Jacksonville touchdowns. The Jaguars defense converted an interception to another touchdown and voila, Jax 31, Was 14.

WTOP-TV reported a story that the Redskins were close to trading Mark Brunell to the Seattle Seahawks for a draft pick. After watching rookie QB Jordan Palmer's play in the second half, I bet the coach-in-chief is rethinking that move.

Palmer was awful, completing 2 of 10 passes for 10 yards. OK, lets say that he had no reps in training camp and that he was playing with the bottom of the talent barrel, a high schooler should not have thrown into that coverage.

Oh well, you learn more from your mistakes.

The Redskins could compound Palmer's mistake by trading Brunell. With #8 gone, the QB line-up would be Campbell, Collins, Palmer. Campbell, Collins, Bramlet makes me feel better.

The knock on Bramlet is that he is immobile and does not throw the deep pass well. Palmer looks immobile and throws wildly. I don't see the distinction.

The Redskins always favored the guy who could win now. In my mind, that's Bramlet. With more time in the league and NFLe experience, he's further along than Palmer, who will need a lot of tutoring.

Bramlet's real problem was the "not invented here" effect. No one sponsored him. Palmer was drafted, and he's Carson's brother. Good genes. Yeah, right; that sure worked for Tim Hasselbeck. And Marcus Vick.

Bramlet plays tonight when the Falcons face the Ravens. His play could make me feel good or ill about Palmer.

Joe Theismann (I think it was Theismann) said that Palmer played exclusively from the shotgun formation at Texas El Paso. His Redskins experience is the first time he's taken a snap under center. Yup, l-o-ts of tutoring!

Mark Brunell looked sharp, completing 4 of 5 with a TD pass. It's the best he's looked all preseason. Heck, it's the best he's looked since 2005. Seemed like an audition to me. But, I would tell the coach-in-chief to hold on until Sunday before making that trade. Lets see first what quarterbacks are cut Saturday evening.

Who knows, maybe we get Bramlet back.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Vick comes clean

Michael Vick wants you to forgive him. You and Commissioner Goodell and Arthur Blank and all the little kids. And Jesus.

Photo: Don Juan Moore/

You can read his apology here or watch on YouTube.

I watched his statement live. He came across as sincerely contrite. I do believe that he is sorry. Except that part about "Dog fighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it."

I think he does not know why people see dog fighting as cruel. He knows that he screwed up. Big time.

He implied that immaturity was the source of his poor decisions. I believe that, too. The perpetual kid in a candy store with an unlimited check book. Like Peter Pan and Michael Jackson, Vick is the kid who never grew up. Like Jackson, his wealth gave him a certain immunity from accountability, that curse of grown-ups. He never had to pay a price -- before now -- for bizarre behavior. Wealth can do that. If you don't learn how to control wealth, it will control you.

He's grown up a lot in that breath-taking period between April and August. Looking at a world crumbled by stupidity, He's found Jesus.

People are having a problem with that. I don't know why. Troubled times are exactly when people turn to Jesus. That's what He's there for. Redemption is for sinners. Jesus lives in jail. So many people find Him there, apparently for the first time.

He sure couldn't count on friends like "T" and "Q," who he may also meet in jail.

Michael Vick exposed, again, the racial gulf that exists between black and white in America. Vick's most loyal followers are black, of course. Many of them cite societal issues for unfair treatment of Vick. I'm black and old school. I disagree with them. What happened to Rodney King, or Lindsey Lohan, has nothing to do with running a gambling ring based on dog fighting. Dog fighting is not a victimless crime.

To be discriminatory, you have to show that Vick is being treated differently than, say, Peyton Manning or Brett Favre if they conspired to run an interstate criminal enterprise that involved killing. I think the media would make just as much of an issue as with Vick. More so, because Manning and Favre both won Super Bowls. The Vick believers will never buy that.

[A Reuters story by Matthew Bigg says the black-white distinction is not so clear cut.

"Those who demonstrated for Vick supported him as an athlete and man while those protesting against him were against animal cruelty . . . ."]

Mary Sanchez at the Kansas City Star gets it right, when she says "as long as we keep looking at Vick and shake, shake our collective heads, dismissing it all to race and class, we will miss ever understanding more about the deeper demons that people wrestle with." This is all about Michael Vick.

Funny thing, and this may be good for Vick, His problems brought him in close contact with black men of real accomplishment. Men like Billy Martin, his lawyer. I bet this is the first time he's worked closely with a non-athletic black superstar.

The clue is in Vick's suit that closely mimics Martin's normal attire, as does Vick's personal grooming. It's anti-hip-hop and more formal that the urban chic Vick wore at his arrainment. Yes, I realize his legal team dressed him for the occasion. Michael Vick is young enough that maybe a few other positives will rub off, too.

Photo: Steve Helber/AP

Here's an idea for redemption. Michael Vick pledges to pay for the care of the Bad Newz dogs for the rest of their natural lives. As fighting dogs, many of them will be unfit as pets. Their life expectancy will be short through no fault of their own. Vick's plea agreement already requires him to pay for their care while they are in government custody. Vick asks the court to let the dogs be kenneled and cared for on him. That's restitution for the dogs. That wins him some points.

Vick can set up a foundation to fund their care and call it Good Newz Kennels Foundation.

Don't worry Michael Vick fans. The NFL forgives quick. MV7 will play again, if he can put his legal troubles behind him before he's 30. The only question is where? There are two markets where Vick can fit.

Oakland has an owner with the requisite "fuck you" attitude to defy the animal extremists who will dog (oops) Vick's every step forever. And Oakland have a fan base that historically accepted social misfits. Oakland's large black community will give born-again Vick a shot at redemption.

The other market, ironically, is Atlanta where the black fan base adopted Vick as the face of the franchise and defiantly support him still. Whether the owner will ever trust him again is another matter. Arthur Blank's flexibility depends on how well Joey Harrington does as Vick's replacement

Photo: Michael Vick and Arthur Blank/AP

I wonder how Joe Gibbs would have worked with Michael Vick? We came ever so close to finding out. In January 2004, Arthur Blank invited Gibbs to lunch to feel him out about coaching the Falcons. Gibbs owned a small percentage of the franchise. Gibbs heard during that lunch that Steve Spurrier just quit as the Redskins' coach and Blank said he knew that he'd lost Gibbs for the Falcons.

Steve Spurrier saved Joe Gibbs from Michael Vick.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ookie's day in court

Michael Vick's immediate future is in the hands of U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson. Vick appears before the bench today to formally enter his guilty plea. Vick filed his statement with federal prosecutors Friday acknowledging that the government "would prove its case beyond reasonable doubt." The statement of Vick's Ookie side may be read on The Smoking Gun.

Michael Vick is compiling quite an archive at The Smoking Gun.

Give Vick his due process

The prosecution's statement accompanies Vick's guilty plea. In it, they say Vick acknowledges that, by entering his plea, he is waiving his legal "due process" rights, which are:

  • the right to plead not guilty and to persist in that plea;
  • the right to trial by jury
  • the right to be represented by [legal] council
  • the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, to be protected from compelled self-incrimination, to testify and present evidence, and to compel the attendance of witnesses.

Due process is a legal term. When Vick's Atlanta supporters cry out for his due process rights, they are referring to his shattered reputation based on news releases. They buy into Vick's initial denials of involvement even as mounting evidence exposed Vick's series of lies. [That ends today, of course.] And they want him to play football, before, during and after the fallout of the ugly episode. After all, "they're just dogs."

These are p.r. issues, not legal ones. Mr. Vick is well represented by council. Both his signed statement and the prosecutor's written statement acknowledge Vick's due process.

They were just dogs

Because they were just dogs, Vick is looking at 12 to 18 months rather than life imprisonment (see Carruth, Rae).

The real deal

Vick agreed with the prosecutors to waive his right to appeal, if the sentence imposed by Judge Hudson varies from the prosecution's recommendation. And he agreed to pay any monetary penalties immediately.

Vick will also pay for the disposition of Bad Newz Kennels stable of dogs now in government custody. The dogs are the subject of a civil action known as United States v. Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs, Case No. 3:07CV397. That involves "all costs associated with the care of the dogs . . . , including, if necessary, long-term care and/or the humane euthanasia of some or all of the animals as may be directed by the judge in that case."

He agrees to give up any ownership interest in the Bad Newz dogs.

Vick agrees to cooperate truthfully with the prosecution in future grand jury testimony and pre-trial conferences (presumably against others); to submit to polygraph examinations; to fully debrief the government on the details of his operation and of other dog fighters that he may know of. His signed statement of fact was sufficient to support his plea deal. He knows more and he agrees to tell all.

Any violation of any law by Vick will affect his reduction of sentence.

Vick agrees that, if he does not cooperate truthfully, his statements may be used against him in future prosecution. He effectively waives his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Hard swallow

These provisions must be hard for Vick. He was reared in a socio-economic strata that views the Man with deep suspicion, born of ham-handed treatment by the law. Cooperation with the police is seen as almost traitorous. I have no idea of Vick feels that way. ESPN's Howard Bryant touched on this his lengthy piece Vick's next role is an unsavory one: Government informant.

"He may be called a snitch, but aiding federal authorities is the most honorable thing for this disgraced man to do at this late date. It could even be the beginning of his redemption."

Bryant's story speculates that Ookie could provide so much new evidence about the underground dog fighting culture that he could escape jail time altogether. I'm not sure about that one, but Bryant points out that the deal means that Vick would have to rat out other NFL players involved in dog fighting.

Commissioner Goodell's problems in this area may only be beginning.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vick Pleads Guilty

UPDATE: NFL Suspends Vick Indefinitely for "cruel and reprehensible" conduct.

Vick files plea admitting to dogfighting.

This does not end the story, only the chapter. Billy Martin, Vick's lead attorney, says his client will speak to the public about his role that Martin says is different than that of the other defendants. That, my friend, is what you call "theater."

Michael Vick plead guilty to conspiracy charges and acknowledged that he bankrolled the Bad Newz Kennels operation, including paying the gambling losses of the group. However, Vick denies a hand in the actual killing of dogs and in placing any bets.

Ten questions for Michael Vick:

  1. What the &%#$ were you thinking?
  2. What lessons have you learned from this experience?
  3. Who initiated the Bad Newz enterprise, you or your co-defendants?
  4. What was your reaction when your co-defendants changed their plea and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution?
  5. What are your true views about dog fighting today? Do you think people make too much of it? Is it a sport?
  6. You've lost your good name. What's your plan to get your reputation back? Do you understand why people reacted as they did when the story broke?
  7. How will you factor ethical choices as you make personal decisions in the future?
  8. Dog fighting has emerged as an activity of an urban criminal element. Are you a thug, or just a thug wannabe?
  9. Your lawyer says your role was different that that of the co-defendants. How does that justify your participation in this enterprise?
  10. Should personal conduct have any role in determining if an athlete should play professional sports? Why, or why not?

Photo: from here.

Jason Campbell on Brandon Lloyd

Question, from chat session with Washington Redskins QB Jason Campbell:
"What improvements have you seen in Brandon Lloyd's game since the end of last season?"

"Overall I think Brandon Lloyd’s attitude has been a big improvement this season. He’s been dedicated to coming out and trying to participate in practice and go full speed. It’s carrying over to the field for him right now. His development in the offense has also improved. He’s running great routes right now. He’s a speedster, so his main thing is that he can get down field for us to help stretch the field, help stretch our passing game. He can be a tremendous asset. He’s just got to continue dedicating himself."
The Redskins have reverted to type and started bringing in experienced players to audition for a spot with the team. Maybe they are not seeing enough from the rookies. Or, maybe they just see guys like Randall Godfrey as depth role players. I doubt that one could cast Todd Pinkston in that mold. Running backs who are past 30, like Fred Beasley, are pretty much on the downward arc of their career [see Davis, Stephen].

What I find interesting, without being critical, is that Godfrey, Pinkston and Beasley were free agents who did not play last year. News reports say that the Skins courted Godfrey all thought the offseason, but Pinkston and Beasley would have jumped at the chance to be here sooner if only for more time to learn the playbook.

So why weren't they here before now? You allocate your OTA and training camp slots to players you think will develop over time. That's seeding the future. As they are released, you look at vets, "known quantities", who can fill spots. Of the four 30+ players recently added to the roster, only Godfrey and Pete Kendall are likely to stick. The Redskins will vote Pinkston and Beasley off the island if an more interesting vet gets cut from the active roster of some other team.

Yeah; that's it.

Marbury Speaks

We've seen this before around here, only this time it's basketball player Stephon Marbury who lamented that Michael Vick was being charged with the sport of dog fighting while others kill Bambi for sport and get away with it.

Marbury didn't exactly use the Bambi device (that's mine). Marbury was actually quoted as saying

"I think it's tough," Marbury said, according to Albany TV station Capital News 9. "I think, you know, we don't say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors."

Marbury has already backed off the contention when he said Vick "should be punished" and stating that his comments should be put "in the right context."

"It is not uncommon for my comments to be misconstrued in the media," the Knicks point guard wrote in a statement released by the team. " ... What Michael Vick did was wrong and he has admitted his guilt. He should be punished. However, he should be given a second chance as others have received for more serious crimes."

Anthony Brown dealt with the dog fighting as sport in a essay Blood Sports are Savagery, not Fair Competition that appeared on You an find it here.

Greg Hansen, columnist for the Arizona Daily Star points out that "the deer that are killed are not left to rot in the forest. They are harvested very carefully and subsequently find their way to dinner tables everywhere." He adds "Deer hunting can be and often is a dangerous endeavor. But unlike dog-fighting, it is not inherently a malicious one."

Like Marbury, I'm a kid from the inner-city. Hunting is not part of my cultural DNA. I've known and befriended hunters and talked with them about the activity. I sort of get it that there is an ethic about hunting that is absent from dog fighting and other so called blood sports.

I also understand that maybe that sense is beyond Marbury's and Clinton Portis' experience. I suspect their real beef is that Michael Vick may be banned from football for life. As athletes who committed their lives to their sport, they must empathize with Vick on that one.

They would argue that ability alone should be the sole determination of an athlete's right to play. What society is telling them through Ookie and Pacman and others is that more is expected than ability. It's a cool idea not to offend paying customers, both fans and sponsors. I'm not sure they like that.

Stephon shouldn't worry. The NFL forgives quick. Michael Vick will play again somewhere. There is one team that has always been a haven for social misfits with a bad boy image. If that JaMarcus Russell kid doesn't work out, Michael Vick could just fit the bill for the Oakland Raiders in three years or so.

Poindexter Speaks

Oh, NOW Surry County wants to aggressively prosecute Michael Vick on dog fighting charges. So says Commonwealth Attorny Gerald Poindexter in a story in yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Poindexter, whose deliberate pace of investigation probably triggered the federal government's more active participation, says he will base his case, in part, on evidence developed in the fed's prosecution of Vick and his Bad Newz Kennels co-defendants.

That's no more helpful now than was Surry County's snail's pace effort before. All the more so because it gives Vick's defense team something more to think about as they craft his guilty plea to federal charges. Now they must avoid any admission that could weaken Vick's defense to State charges.

In football, there is a penalty for late hits. There should be one here too. Justice is best served by having Vick admit to everything in one swoop. That does create the situation where Vick is guilty of the conspiracy, but not charged with the underlying crime.

State charges should have been lodged first, or at least concurrent with the federal indictment. Now, State charges are anti-climatic and complicate matters for the feds as much as for Ookie. I think Vick's guilty plea this Monday will be less comprehensive than it might have been before Poindexter's announcement. [UPDATE: Vick will deny killing dogs]

The newspapers make a point of saying that States can level charges based on federal evidence. Such steps are not double jeopardy under the Bill of Rights because the accused faces different charges under a different, but related, set of facts. Double jeopardy is a violation of the Fifth Amendment.

That's the wrong angle for this story. The Bad Newz guys are pleading guilty to federal charges and admitting to the criminal facts that violate Virginia law. To use those guilty pleas in State charges now seems like a violation of the Fifth Amendment prohibiting self-incrimination. I don't see how the State can get away with that. But, I'm not a lawyer. I just watch them on TV.

Surry County, so slow to move in the case before, should move slowly now. Better yet, drop the case if Vick admits violating Virginia law in his federal plea. Lets not make this prosecution a persecution.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michael Vick and Master4caster, crashed and burned

Damn! You nurture an idea, sniff out the drama behind the story, post about it chapter by chapter until it reaches the dramatic high point, then your computer crashes.

On the weekend that Michael Vick reached the momentous decision to acknowledge his guilt in bankrolling a large-scale dog fighting ring, my poor PC was infected by a massive virus attack and crashed. It's being serviced (I'm writing this on a borrowed machine), but my access to Running Redskins is severely restricted until the problems are fixed.

I hope to be back in business by Monday. For the latest Redskins news, see the outstanding bloggers on the list to your right. For the latest in the Micheal Vick saga, see Michael Wilbon's article Brought Down by Arrogance. Wilbon touched on some themes I wanted to write about Monday.

Bear with me as I work through this.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bad News Kennels nearly K-put

Michael Vick's last two co-defendants in federal conspiracy dog fighting charges changed their plea to guilty this morning before the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia.

Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach and Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta face sentencing of up to five years on the charges. Both signed statements acknowledging that all of the facts in the federal indictments against them were true, and that they would cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Vick.

CNN reports that the statements included details that Vick joined the two defendants when they "executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions" in April of this year by methods such as hanging and drowning. Vick met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in late April and denied any involvement in dog fighting.

The feds threaten to file superseding charges against Vick next week when a federal grand jury will be empaneled. Those charges are likely to include racketeering charges. They have offered Vick a plea deal that would call for Vick to spend a year or less of jail time. No agreement was reached by Noon today.

Vick apparently is weighing the impact of a guilty plea on his ability to return to football at the end of any sentence. His agreement to a plea deal depends on what he thinks he hears from the NFL about his future.

Vick has contract law and the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement working in his favor. The NFL does not have sole discretion to just drop him. The league owners agreed to restrict that right last year -- mistakenly, I think -- to reach the new contract with the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA objected to the disciplinary actions that Philadelphia Eagles used against Terrell Owens.

Working against Vick is the additional charges the fed intend to file. Racketeering and gambling charges are serious business. The league suspended Paul Hornung for a year for gambling. The NFL might be persuaded to limit itself to an eight game suspension for a dog fighter. Racketeering could get you banned for life.

It seem unlikely that Vick would plead guilty to racketeering. If a plea is coming, it will be before the more serious charges are filed next week.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Vick likely to plead out

According to a story written by Jeremy Redmon and Bill Rankin at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will most likely join his three co-defendants and agree this week to a plea deal with prosecutors in his federal dogfighting case, according to two people with knowledge of the case.

"Vick has not made a final decision, according to the two people with the knowledge of the case, because he wants to hear from the NFL what a guilty plea would do to his football career."

Vick hired a crack legal team, giving every indication of his intent to fully fight the charges. Plea deals by all of his co-defendants tackled Vick for a loss. It's bad when you are dogged by your dawgs in federal court.

The AJC story points out that one of Vicks considerations is how the NFL will respond to the developments. One of the smarter moves Vick made was to hire Butch Williams for his legal team. Williams, of Durham, NC, represents athletes in contract law and professional league rules. He represented one of the accused in the Duke rape case. I suspect that Williams is leading negotiations with the NFL.

And it is a negotiation. The league wants to be seen as taking action as a result of the scandal. But, there are contracts and union rules in play. Like the feds, they might be open to exacting a less severe penalty if Vick waives some of his rights.

Roger Goodell's good behavior policy does not use criminal conviction as a triggering event. Repeated actions that go beyond personal reputation to taint the league is substantiation enough to act. The NFL is investigating the facts that have emerged about Vick's Ookie side to see if he violated the league's personal conduct policy.

Butch Williams would be wise to open a dialogue with the NFL Players Association as part of his efforts. The players' union is obliged to monitor player treatment by the NFL. They supported Terrell Owens' outrageous behavior in 2005. Vick has a price to pay. Both his legal team and the union will want to see that he's not railroaded. The union pretty much has to do so.

The NFL wants to sanction Vick. I'm not so sure they want to ban him. Vick is, or was, the NFL's most popular individual star. As voiced by an anonymous man who sat behind me at FedEx Field, "the NFL forgives quick."
As a black man, I am furious at Michael Vick. To waste his talent and resources on the silliest of diversions; to be so blind -- or so unfeeling -- to the savagery of the enterprise; to fail to put aside the low-lifes in his life, is criminal in its own right.

I'm not sure if Bad Newz Kennels was Vick's idea in the first place. I am certain (without knowing the parties involved) that Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace would not have involved themselves in the venture, except for the glamor of being in Vick's inner circle.

That's the biggest crime of all. Phillips, Peace and Tony Taylor might have been elevated to better circumstances, better lives, through Michael Vick. Instead, he allegedly financed their way to federal prosecution. Something about laying down with dogs . . . .
The black community, especially the Atlanta black community, has been in a quandary about Vick. Advancement and hope for African-Americans have only come through government action. Slavery was banned in the U.S. in the sixties, that's the 1860s. However, it was replaced by a system of economic deprivation and social isolation that ended about a decade after the modern Civil Rights movement. The blessings of America were not enjoyed by large numbers of blacks until the seventies, that's the 1970s.

Wide disparities in the treatment of blacks and other minorities remain in the criminal justice system. Folks get uncomfortable when it looks like a young black man is getting railroaded, whether the man is named Ookie, or O.J. The barrage against Vick feels like the bad old days to many people.

The venerable, Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, once led by Martin Luther King, Jr., considered a show of support for Vick at its upcoming convention. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. Unfolding events would have made them look silly.

Michael Vick does not need their help. Ookie Vick does not deserve their sympathy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why Michael Vick is worried - IV

The latest on Michael Vick: Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips, the remaining co-defendants in the case, are reportedly scheduled to appear in court at the end of the week to accept plea agreements in the case. Defendant Tony Taylor reached a plea agreement only days after entering his not guilty plea at his arraignment.

Vick is the only defendant who has not reached a plea deal. His lawyers met with federal prosecutors Monday. They planned to discuss options with Vick after the meeting. The feds are giving Vick until this Friday to accept a deal, or face additional charges in the case.

AUG. 14, 2007 UPDATE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Vicks legal team is negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The lawyers did not speak with their client last evening. Perhaps they would like to know the outline of an agreement to present to Vick to see what direction he wants to take. With no plea deal, Vick could face additional charges supported by testimony by his former co-defendants and alleged partners in Bad Newz Kennels.

Read the details at ESPN.

The Official Website of Michael Vick opens with a video tribute to Virginia Tech University. The last news item listed is a January 18, 2007 link to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story that opens

"One thing's certain; quarterback Michael Vick is not getting traded. He's not getting cut. He's not going anywhere. Barring injury, Vick is the Falcons' starting quarterback."

The link to the fan message board is broken, but the Vick Store link is working. An Atlanta Falcons #7 jersey is available through the store. However, Reeboc, the official supplier of NFL clothing, announced that they would no longer sell Michael Vick jerseys.

Vicks K9 Kennel website is no longer available. The existence of this site was the first inconsistency between Vicks statements about the case and emerging facts.

Vick denied knowledge of the operation when the suspected dog fighting site was discovered on his Surry County, Virginia, property. He accused his relatives as the responsible parties. Vick's aunt, and his cousin, Davon Boddy, lived at the address. Neither were named in the indictment.

Vick said he rarely visited the property, but investigators turned up testimony that he was regularly seen in the area.

Vick denied involvement in dog fighting, but the revelation that he held a Pit Bull dog breeding license and the web site listing the Surry County address undercut that argument. The web site specifically stated "we do not raise dogs for fighting purposes."

In an April 2007 meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Vick denied any involvement in dog fighting. Federal prosecutors allege that Michael "Ookie" Vick has been the financier of a dog fighting ring, Bad Newz Kennels, since 2000, and that Vick participated -- in April -- in killing eight "young dogs" that showed insufficient gameness for dog fighting.

Now, it all comes crashing down around him. It appears that all of the other defendants are prepared to enter guilty pleas and co-operate with the prosecutors against Vick. The NFL is investigating whether Vick's actions, including his statements to Goodell, violated the league's personal conduct policy. He has lost his lucrative endorsement deals.

It looks bad, but there is redemption in there for Michael Vick. It's all up to him.

Questions linger. How could so talented young man, who held life by the tail, waste his wealth on a thing like this? Why was he anywhere near enough to dog fighting to even be tainted by such a thing?

It you sleep with the dogs, you will get up with fleas.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Todd Pinkston?

The Washington Redskins signed inactive wide receiver Todd Pinkston to a contract. Here's what I remember of Todd Pinkston (Eagles @ Redskins, December 2004):

Pinkston later caught an 80 yard bomb from Donovan McNabb in the game won by the Eagles 17-14.

But, Pinkston? Tell me, please, how Pinkston solves the problem of under-performing wide receivers.


Nuttin but the hits

EA Sports is days away from releasing Madden 2008, and a couple of promo videos featuring Redskins are up on YouTube.

Hitstick 2.0 has cameos of Clinton Portis and Sean Taylor.

Spectacular Catches has a brief scene of Santana Moss doing a one-hander.

Shout out to MDS at AOL Fanhouse for the lead.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Washington Sellouts

Rich Gosselin, NFL Columnist for the Dallas Morning News (of all places) Points out that the Washington Redskins have the NFL's longest running sellout streak. The streak dates from 1967 and is up to 304 games and counting.

Gosselin's column mentioned a name I haven't heard in many-a-year, under-used running back A.D. Whitfield. Otto Graham used him as a change-of-pace back. I liked watching Whitfield play, but an October 2, 2004 Robert Janis story points out that Graham preferred bigger backs, apparently viewing 5-10 Whitfield as a 198 pound weakling; this despite his 5.1 yards-per-carry in 1966, and 13.7 yard receiving average in '67.

In the Redskins 72-41 whuppin' of the Giants (1967), Whitfield carried the ball four times, scoring three touchdowns.

Graham was a legit NFL legend, but his previous coaching experience was with the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. At 17-22-3, he was not the change agent the team expected, because (I suspect) of questionable use of personnel, like Whitfield, and neglect of the defense. Edward Bennett Williams replaced the legend with a bigger legend -- Vincent T. Lombardi.

Alas, Whitfield did not survive Lombardi, who went instead with Larry Brown and Charlie Harraway. In the sixties, when the Skins could score, but make no stops, Whitfield was one of the giants who, along with Jurgy, Taylor, Mitchell and Huff, gave the faithful something to cheer for on Sundays.

To see Whitfield's story in depth, see What Ever Happened to A.D. Whitfield?


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Finally Football

Finally, at last, live football. Who cares that it doesn't count in the records. It's important.

Last year, the Redskins were cavalier about preseason games. They hardly game-planned the competition, or prepped for the contest. So sure were they of their new schemes, that they kept them hidden and off opposing teams games tapes.

It took the Minnesota Vikings exactly one half of the first regular season game to figure out the new playbook. The season was down hill from there. We found that every flaw we saw in the regular season was in plain view in the preseason.

The team acknowledged that ego and arrogance was at the heart of that. Joe Gibbs, who said regularly through the season that "it all falls on me," promised changes this season, including a new approach to preseason games.

Preseason games don't count, it's true, but execution of the plays is critical. Look at the stats, not the score. What was the average rushing yards per attempt? What was the average passing yards per attempt? Was the percentage of pass completions over or under 60? Was the ratio of touchdown passes-to-interceptions 2:1? What was the percentage of third-down conversions for the Redskins and the other team? Were the Redskins in the lead when the first team left the field?

These thing tell you how well a team executes. In preseason, it matters not if you win or lose. It's how you play the game.
Happy first anniversary to The Curly R blog. Ever since Ben Folsom started it, he raised the standards and the prestige of the Redskins blogging community. His writing is unmatched for insight and depth.

How I hate him. ;-) Thank you folks. I'll be here all week.

I'm not a journalist, or a professional writer -- not yet anyway. So, a site like The Curly R is helpful in picking up tips on sources, structure and interviewing. It was the first blog where I noticed photo attribution and learned to the same. So, thank you, Ben, for all that you do!

You will find The Curly R and the other fine Redskins blogs on the blogroll to your right.
The Redskins - Titans preseason game will be broadcast locally on channel 7. The Redskins site has a preview of the game here. See the Tennessee Titans preview of the game here.

Hog Heaven has two fine pieces up on the Washington Redskins defense. Greg Trippiedi's article examines the Redskins run defense. Anthony Brown asks five questions about defense. We will start to get some answers tonight.

Photo: from here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Passing on Casey Bramlet

The Redskins Insider is reporting that the Washington Redskins are saying good bye to Casey Bramlet, again. The team cut Bramlet at the end of the 2006 preseason. Guess they didn't see enough that they liked, in spite of Bramlet's head-turning performance in NFL Europa.

I commented on this just last evening on an ExtremeSkins thread comparing Bramlet with Todd Collins [Interesting stat Collins vs. Bramlet].

"Looking toward the future, I would cut or trade Collins and work with Bramlet and Palmer. I am deeply suspicious of the Redskins' intentions for Bramlet. First he 'wasn't invented here,' meaning the Skins didn't draft him. He was a free agent pick-up after his release by the Bengals. He played at a small school (Wyoming).

"Second, I don't know how to evaluate NFL Europa teams. I didn't see them play and never heard of any of the players except the few sent there by the Redskins (Remember Hamden? Just disappeared, didn't he.). I wonder how a NFL Europa team would match-up against a BCS team.

"That's the issue. World Bowl MVP is news worthy, but not very impressive to NFL front offices. Casey Bramlet: undiscovered talent, or the next Tim Hasselbeck?

"You could ask the same question about Jordan Palmer. The only way to tell is to give them more reps and game time. There's not enough reps or playing time to go around, so I think the Redskins will go with the one they drafted."

Keeping Collins is probably a compromise between Joe Gibbs and his deputy, Al Saunders. It may also signal that the team isn't so sure of Mark Brunell's recovery from shoulder surgery. If you knew Mark was going to be healthy, then it makes much more sense to keep your younger quarterbacks for an extended audition. But, if you are not so sure, then you keep Collins, who would be snapped up in a heartbeat were he to be released. Healthy back-up QBs don't exactly fall out of trees.

I'm sorry for Bramlet because I think the Redskins have to get younger. Pulling for Bramlet also means rooting for the underdog. That's always a feel-good story.

In a perverse way, this is good news for Bramlet - better to be cut sooner rather than later. Now, he has a chance to be picked by some team more interested in him that the Redskins have ever been. And that can happen with four weeks left to preseason. If he were cut late, he would sit out all this year.

Casey, call waiting from Atlanta and Oakland.