Will NFL viewers stomach Michael Vick as a Fox Sports analyst? – Chicago Tribune
Simpson at least would bring network TV experience along with his baggage. Vick just brings the baggage.
This isn’t so much to rail against Fox for hiring Vick, whose NFL playing career was interrupted by 18 months in prison for his role in a brutal, abusive dogfighting ring he is unlikely ever to completely put behind him in the eyes of many.
If “Fox NFL Kickoff” viewers and those who stumble across his appearances on cable’s FS1 are sickened by the memory of what Vick went to prison for, the stupidity of Fox’s decision will be readily apparent.
If not and Vick proves a hit, well, then the American marketplace will have spoken. You have a remote. Vote.
What’s curious is that hiring Vick would seem far more significant than other sports media tempests of late that have inflamed greater passion in social media circles and among non-sports pundits.
Is hiring Vick more or less worthy of criticism than ESPN reassigning a sportscaster named Robert Lee from an ACC Network football game in Charlottesville, Va., relatively few people will watch to an ACC Network football game in Pittsburgh relatively few people will watch?
ESPN moved Lee because he and others suspected he would take grief for sharing the name of a general around whose memory white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville.
ESPN President John Skipper told staff by email the change was “one of the countless, routine decisions our local production teams make every day.” Lee accepted the Pittsburgh game, according to Skipper, “in part because he lives in Albany (N.Y.) and would be able to get home to his family” the same night as the game.
Vick, meanwhile, was involved in a brutal, abusive dogfighting ring.
Fox Sports President Eric Shanks told USA Today he understands why some people are upset the network put Vick on the payroll.
But, Shanks said, “Not only has he paid his debt to society, but he’s done everything a person who has made a terrible mistake like that can do. We felt it was the right person at the right time for us.”
The NFL welcomed Vick back as a quarterback after he served his sentence despite complaints from incensed animal lovers who railed against him throughout the remainder of his playing career.
NFL teams aren’t always so forgiving when it comes to embracing players who might rub some people the wrong way.
That said, ex-cons have to be allowed to earn second chances. Otherwise, what kind of incentive is there to reform? What hope is there to cling to while behind bars?
If Fox has deemed Vick the best guy available and won’t be a negative distraction, it should be able to hire him despite a change.org petition calling for his removal, saying Vick is not sufficiently sorry.
As of mid-afternoon Thursday, the online drive was a few more than 3,000 co-signers short of its 75,000 goal. But it’s hard to see Fox changing its mind until it sees how viewers respond to him en masse.
Being really, really good at something can be enough to make people forget practically anything. Twenty years ago, Marv Albert seemed finished after a sex scandal. Everyone moved on.
Fox found success by hiring Pete Rose, who was banned from baseball for gambling and spent five months in prison for cheating on his taxes, and Alex Rodriguez, damned by baseball in its steroids housecleaning.
Each eventually proved to be entertaining and insightful enough during the postseason that in time their tarnished reputations became an afterthought, if that.
But there are lines that even Fox won’t cross.
The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday reported Rose is no longer on tap to work baseball’s postseason, the result of accusations in a court document filed by the defense in a libel case Rose brought.
A woman said in a sworn statement she had a sexual relationship with Rose in the 1970s before she was 16, the age of consent in Ohio, when the ex-ballplayer was in his 30s. Rose did not deny the relationship but has said he thought she was 16 at the time.
So it is possible to do something that Fox cannot abide.
The best insurance against getting canned is being indispensable, and Vick is going to have to be awfully good to overcome the awful things he has done.
It’s not as though there is a shortage of others offering NFL analysis who weren’t involved in a brutal, abusive dogfighting ring, and they’re all just a click away.
And now a commercial message: Fox is selling 6-second ad slots during its NFL telecasts that punch and get out of the way.
Incidentally, the consensus of ad buyers surveyed by Variety is that fewer people will see commercials during prime-time pro football this season than last, although NFL games are expected to remain as reliable a top draw as virtually anything else on TV.
Fox and CBS reportedly are asking between $650,000 and $700,000 per 30-second ad on their late-afternoon NFL games.
That would be on par — when inflation is taken into account — with the $222,000 CBS got for Super Bowl XIV in 1980, which averaged more than 76 million viewers.
Clearly, monetary inflation is not the only kind of inflation.