Vick in Top 100; Labor Deal Ruining America

Sorry for the brief hiatus loyal ITI fans. All six of you. A year or so ago I tore my ACL during an ill-advised “Urban Bourbon” party at my house and, as anyone who’s busted their knee will tell you, rehab has been a hell of set-backs and complications.

It doesn’t help that I generally ignore doctor’s orders and play football without my special brace, but I’ll just say last week was bad and leave it at that. I have a newfound respect for guys like Stewart Bradley and Jamaal Jackson, and I’ll never again wonder why a guy isn’t playing full-speed only 10 months after a complete knee reconstruction. Ok.

As you already know, Michael Vick was unjustly ranked the 20th best player in all of football, behind such overrated one-trick ponies as Troy Polamalu and Haloti Ngata. If I’m remembering correctly, there were only two names floating around at MVP time in 2010, and one of them is going to land in the top five. The other was not Haloti Ngata.

Yeah, I know. It was voted on by players. But not every player. Nobody was asking Chad Hall or Akeem Jordan what they thought about the Top 100. Only Pro Bowlers got to vote, and Pro Bowlers (read: Cowboy Pro Bowlers) aren’t necessarily there because they’re the best in the league. They’re just the most popular.

Hence the odd inclusion of six (6) Cowboys on this Top 100 in contrast to the Birds four (4), following a season in which their “Pro Bowlers” nearly went scoreless against our backups’ backups in the final game of the season. Popularity matters, even in a player’s poll, and anyone who tells me he’d pick Troy Polamalu over Michael Vick is either a fool or an angry Cowboy fan who can’t understand why DeMarcus Ware wasn’t number 1. Anyway.

As a final note, I’d like to let out some frustrations here. Ahem:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

If I read one more article about a “source” or an “anonymous NFL executive” who knows – better than anyone else – how this debauched labor mess is going to turn out I’m going to eat my computer. I swear to God.

When I went to journalism school, we were cautioned against printing “hearsay” – unsubstantiated rumors that someone will only tell you “under condition of anonymity.” Usually, it means someone is trying to play you.

Why, then, if only owners and players are legally bound to secrecy here, are so many NFL executives unwilling to include their names alongside the wild, sometimes completely unfounded yarns they feed mainstream reporters? Because they know what they’re saying is probably going to turn out to be garbage.

No one – not Goodell, De Smith, or Jerry Jones – knows how this is going to work out. The NFL has never been in this position before. It’s almost literally a trial by fire; a desperate game of chicken in which both sides could end up dead yet wonder, day after day, if losing might be worse. Is one year of lost earnings better or worse than getting trapped into a bad deal for more than a decade? I can’t answer that, and only people like Jerry Jones have enough money to ponder it for more than a second.

My point, I guess, is this: Tilt your head a little when you look at this thing. It’s holographic. From one side it’s doomsday, from another it looks like progress. Sometimes (like today) we get nearly a dozen mainstream reports that say completely different things for so many different reasons it hurts my knee and makes me just want to quit and go into broadcasting.

With very, very few exceptions, the media’s handling of this labor deal has been atrocious, misleading, and sometimes even sinister. Respectable publications are running 5th-person accounts without attribution, then contradicting themselves the very next day because “someone” with “inside knowledge” said “the talks could still break down at any moment.” As a professional journalist, I’ve learned that “quote marks” are more often than not “substitutes” for “facts the writer wishes he had”. Don’t buy into it.

Just watch billiards and argue about the Top 100 until something actually happens. Believe me. You’ll know.

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Tags: DeMaurice Smith Eagles Jerry Jones Labor Lockout Media NFL Roger Goodell USA Today Vick

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