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Open Letter To Roger Goodell

May 1, 2009

Dear Mr. Goodell;

 I should begin this letter by telling you that I am not a football fan.  Rather, I am the ubiquitous football widow.  My seasonal neglect is compounded by the intellectual assault of the endless strategies and statistics of fantasy football.  I don’t understand or follow a word of it, but that doesn’t deter my husband Dave.  He’s a fan and this was understood when I took my vows.

I am a good and supportive football widow. Every year for his birthday I order him the NFL Sunday Ticket from DirecTV so he won’t have to miss a game.  I’ve even called to complain when the San Diego Chargers game was blacked out -despite the fact that we live a 150 miles from the stadium.  Last year I splurged for his birthday and bought him a 42" HD TV and added the Super Fan package to his NFL Sunday Ticket so he could watch 8 games at once.

My husband is an all around good guy.  He’s intelligent, funny, compassionate, kind to animals and children, always willing to lend a hand and give the benefit of the doubt.  He is a graduate of Virginia Tech, and for many years an avid fan of Michael Vick.  He paid top dollar in every pool to have Vick as his quarterback. He’s spoken frequently about how Vick is really to credit for Tech’s current football program and standing on the college circuit. In his own way, like fans across the country, Dave has been, for years, supporting Michael Vick, cheering him on and basking in the glow of his successes and glory.  That is the right and reward of every football fan.

2007 was a particularly hard year for Dave. While he didn’t know any of the victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre, as an alumni he took the tragedy a bit more personally than the rest of us.  His sense of loss was compounded by Vick’s involvement and arrest for dog fighting. As much of a fan of football as my husband is, he’s a dog lover first and foremost.  We don’t have children, rather we have 3 dogs.  We donate to animal charities, and my husband helped found a local humane society in the 90’s. So in addition to outrage at Vick’s actions, my husband also felt a sense of betrayal. 

In our home we cheered when federal law enforcement took Vick into custody.  We applauded you when the NFL suspended him.  We were encouraged when Arthur Blank sought to recover some of Vick’s signing bonus.  All clear signs that Vick’s participation in animal cruelty and gambling were not going to go unpunished.  As animal lovers, of course, we are heartened when animal cruelty, especially something as heinous as dog fighting,  is treated as more than a misdemeanor or a redneck right.

However, we’ve always been a bit leery of the fact that Vick’s being reinstated by the NFL has never been solidly ruled out. I know that there is wild speculation about your upcoming decision.  I know that there are arguments, some cogent and some out right crazed, being made by parties that want Vick drawn and quartered and others who want this to be over and have him back playing football where they feel he belongs. For some it appears to be about love, for others it appears to be about money.

While I don’t understand the ins and outs of the game, I have noticed that the game and the NFL haven’t suffered in Vick’s absence.  Games have been played, money has been made, hot dogs and jerseys have been sold, gamblers have won and lost, and teams have prospered.  What, really does Michael Vick’s reinstatement bring to the game or to the NFL? There will always be more phenomenal players added to the NFL, maybe someday even one from Virginia Tech.  There is no seeming void where Vick used to be.  However, by reinstating him, there will be consequences, both fiscal and emotional for both teams and the fans.

As my husband’s birthday approaches this month we’re in a bit of a quandary.  As a fan my husband wants what is best for the game.  Good players, good games, cold beer and hot dogs.  The problem that arises for us is that should you, as NFL Commissioner, reinstate Michael Vick, football viewing will be restricted in our home.  I will not be paying DirecTV, and by extension the NFL, for the NFL Sunday Ticket Super Fan All You Can Watch Pigskin Buffet should Vick be a jersey wearing member of the organization.  No game in which he plays will be allowed on my husband’s fancy new TV or our HD DVR.  My husband will not get pin money to bet on any game that involves Mr. Vick – even if he’s on the bench.  My husband will comply willingly with these new house rules because he is an animal lover too, but he will be miserable about it.  I suspect that we will not be the only husband and football widow to take this kind of action.

Ultimately, the question that I would like to put to you, Mr. Goodell, is this: Who is football for?  Is it for the high paid players?  Is it for the bookies and the gamblers?  Is it for the owners in their sky boxes?  Or is it for the fans in the stadiums and at home who root and cheer, buy the shirts, play the fantasy football games, drink cold beer and eat food covered in ketchup, cheese or chili? In our home, we hope you will find in favor of the fans.

Best wishes.


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