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article imageOp-Ed: Why I can't support an NFL so far removed from societal decency

By Michael Krebs     Apr 14, 2014 in Sports
In the wake of Michael Vick's appointment to the New York Jets, the support for Vick — and those deemed worse than Vick — places the NFL outside the perimeter of societal decency and common respect.
The National Football League is an immoral organization, and its legitimacy as a source of family entertainment and as an aspirational profession is entirely without merit.
I have arrived at this conclusion over the last few weeks while working with the Kick Out Vick Campaign and in an awakening set in motion by the decision by the New York Jets to appoint Michael Vick to the quarterback role — and I have come to realize that Vick's presence is not merely a matter for the Jets or for New York, but it is one that is supported by the NFL under the guise of atonement.
Arguments in support of Michael Vick have ranged from equating his incarceration with paying his dues to society to the fact that he is already in the role and that his presence is inevitable and irreversible. Under that latter's reasoning outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would sustain her role in the same inevitable and irreversible manner.
But the argument made by the most dedicated supporters of the Jets and of the NFL in general has been that the league employs worse than Michael Vick — that murderers and rapists and a colorful array of violent types remain on the NFL's payrolls.
While I subscribe to the position outlined by Michael Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA in an anti-Vick Op-Ed in the New York Post that "every American should look at dog-fighting as more than just a crime, but as a deep stain on our national character," the thug-as-standard argument posed by some NFL supporters has resonated with me.
Michael Vick served 23 months for his heinous crimes against the animals he tortured and killed. His sentence is seen by some as harsh, but remember, he tried his best not to be associated with the dog-fighting facility he had funded and managed — only after he was caught. This was not a man that came to a realization on his own that his disgusting activities and the pain and misery those activities were delivering were apart from society and were a blight on humanity. He was busted, and it was too late, and he was scrambling for self-preservation.
He served 23 months and returned to the NFL and to the prospect of lucrative contracts. The New York Jets are paying Michael Vick $5 million dollars for the 2014 season alone. These are the standards set by the National Football League. This is what atonement looks like at the NFL.
I ask you to think about your own employment — and about the standards of civil behavior within your work environment. A common issue among office workers globally is the matter of sexual harassment. If you were found guilty of sexual harassment in a given office, it is very likely that you would be dismissed. If your actions were severe enough to warrant jail time, you would be hard pressed to find work in your field. After your time spent in jail to "pay back society," you would not be returning to your original employer.
However, if your employer housed a cast of murderers and rapists, then clearly your crime should be seen as small potatoes — and you would expect to return to your original role and to receive a raise and the full gamut of perks associated with your role.
This is an immoral plane, and it is a line in the sand that society should draw.
Athletes do not reside outside the perimeter of societal decency and common respect. Civility demands equality or the whole of its restrictions comes undone. The NFL's disregard for this equation is tantamount to public illegitimacy, and because of this I do not believe the league can be supported.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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