Shooting from the lip/Nov. 22nd edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
Most interesting figure
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick might be the most compelling figure in sports right now. Yet, doesn't it feel as if more folks are willing to forgive Vick, who actually broke the law, than Tiger Woods, whose actions were morally reprehensible but not illegal? And, sadly, one can't help but wonder if it's because Vick has been more successful as an athlete than Woods since their scandals.
CBS's Shannon Sharpe and Fox's Michael Strahan both spent significant time during Sunday's NFL pregame shows praising Vick for turning his life around, and praising the NFL and Eagles for giving him a second chance. Strahan even encouraged everyone to forgive Vick. NBC broadcast a major interview with Vick on Football Night in America Sunday evening. Is it coincidence the three major networks did stories on Vick on Sunday? NBC's interest, of course, was understandable: Vick and the Eagles were on Sunday Night Football. But was it just happenstance that Sharpe and Strahan -- on separate shows on separate networks, mind you -- spoke of Vick the man (not Vick, the quarterback) in such a positive way? Was it a fluke that both spoke as if Vick’s comeback story is complete?
Or was it because Vick was coming off a breathtaking performance last Monday when he threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more? Would Strahan and Sharpe have had the same commentaries had Vick thrown three interceptions last Monday? Or if he had not played at all? Perhaps.
Look, Vick has paid his debt to society. Strahan and Sharpe have every right to show their support. But the truth is, we don't know any more about what kind of person Vick is now than we knew what kind of person he was three years ago. Maybe Vick truly has turned his life around, and here's hoping he has. Let's just hope we aren't confusing what he does on the field with what kind of person he is off of it.
Speaking of Michael Vick, NBC's Bob Costas -- and this should come as no surprise -- nailed the interview with Vick. Man, I miss Costas' old Later show on NBC. Anyway, one question and answer was particularly interesting. Costas asked Vick what his darkest moment was in prison.
Vick said: "The darkest moments were just not being able to go home every day. … It's like you're trapped. There's nowhere to go. Every night before I went to bed, I always prayed that something would happen that would expedite the process of me getting out. But it never did, and I think that taught me patience.''
Vick later said he understood he did wrong and deserved punishment, but something just doesn't feel right that Vick's darkest moments were about him feeling trapped and praying to get out as opposed to realizing what he did landed him in prison in the first place.
"Think how good he'd be if he could play one game against his defense.''
-- Lou Holtz, ESPN college football analyst, talking about Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who is having a spectacular season but plays on a team whose defense is giving up 33.5 points per game, 99th in Division I-A.
Kurt Warner has the makings of a pretty good television analyst. The former NFL quarterback worked Sunday's Bucs-49ers game and avoided two common mistakes new analysts tend to make. He didn't talk too much, and he didn't talk over viewers' heads with a bunch of technical football-speak. Warner was himself, which means he was understated in his approach, and that's such a refreshing change from new analysts who think they have to be loud and dynamic, outlandish and funny. You could tell he did his homework and had a good grasp on both teams and their personnel. A few times he was was rather obvious in his analysis, but overall, he gets a "thumbs up'' for the job he did Sunday.
The NFL Network's Marshall Faulk, previewing the Packers-Vikings game:
"This is it for the Vikings. The Packers will put them to bed.''
Faulk was spot-on as the Packers pretty much ended Minnesota's season with a 31-3 victory.
Most enjoyable game
The Northwestern-Illinois game on Saturday from Chicago's Wrigley Field was a bit odd, but it was a lot of fun to watch. Because one of the end zones was too close to the outfield wall, the NCAA made an 11th-hour decision to change the rules so that the offenses ran in the same direction. These backyard rules drew laughs and criticism from many. Some wondered what would happen if someone's mom called them home for dinner or if there would be an "all-time'' quarterback? In the end, it was no distraction at all, really. In fact, it turned a game of little interest into one of the more enjoyable games of the day. And it was fun enough that this game should be played there every season, even with the goofy rules.
By the way, one of the better lines of the day about this game came from ESPN's Rece Davis, when announcing that the score was 27-24 at halftime. "It's clear that the wind is blowing out at Wrigley,'' Davis said.
Biggest conflict of interest
Colin Campbell, the NHL's the vice president of hockey operations and chief disciplinarian, is in hot water over e-mails that became public in which he referred to the Bruins' Marc Savard as a "little fake artist''and discussed, with the league’s then-director of officiating, the performance of a referee who was calling one of his son's games. At the time, Campbell’s son Gregory played for the Panthers. He now plays in Boston.
In the end, this has nothing to do with what was actually written in the e-mails, but everything to do with the fact that a high-ranking league official who determines suspensions and inserts his influence on officiating has a son playing in the league. As Ron MacLean, the stellar host of Hockey Night in Canada, said, "What referee reading those e-mails or this story this week wouldn't think, 'The next time I have the Boston Bruins, if Colin Campbell has the ear of (director of officiating) Terry Gregson and I make a bad call in that game, it's going to jeopardize my chances (of future employment).' ''
It's true that Campbell doesn't make any rulings on incidents involving his son, but he does make rulings involving teams that are potentially battling his son's team for a playoff spot. The NHL insists Campbell is a man of integrity. I don't care if that is true. It's ludicrous that a man with Campbell's influence and direct effect on NHL games has a son who could be directly or indirectly affected by one of his father's rulings.
There are plenty of jobs Campbell could do in the NHL. His current position is not one of them.
Three things that popped into my head
1. There are seven conferences represented in the Associated Press Top 25 football poll, and the Big East is not one of them.
2. Another week, another no- decision in the Brett Favre scandal. How long does this take?
3. Don't be shocked if the Lightning struggles Monday night against Boston. The first game home after a long road trip is typically a trap game.