Yesterday the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Michael Vick was conditionally reinstated to play once again in the NFL.
I would think that Pete Rozelle must be turning over in his grave as he sees the NFL brand so carelessly tended. As a brand, the NFL must consider not only what is right and just according to societies laws (and Vick has indeed served his time) but it must also consider what is lawful within the NFL’s brand charter. In other words, what does the NFL have permission to do within the confines of its brand promise to its fans.
I see a crack appearing in the NFL’s armor here. Are they about to go the way of the NBA that has allowed the societal antics of its players dictate the acceptability and importance of its brand? Feels very much like it has.
Consider this, just for a moment. Let’s say Michael Vick is signed by an NFL team and becomes the starting quarterback. When he takes the field on Sunday, do the fans cheer? And if they do, what are they cheering for? I for one would be embarrassed to rise to my feet and cheer, I would wonder if those around me think I am cheering his life, rehabilitation, or my own selfishness?
For the NFL, allowing Vick to play once again — and any team that signs him — are telling everyone that the only thing their brand stands for is winning at any cost. That is unless the brand is about rehabilitation and second chances for social outcasts. Even the Raiders never reached quite this far.
Don’t worry about Vick’s future. No doubt he could fit right in on most NBA rosters.