Going to the dogs

Going to the dogs

Chapter 1: Suspended Adam Jones. Chapter 2: Suspended Tank Johnson. Chapter 3: Watched Michael Vick be indicted by a federal Grand Jury.  Chapter 4: Vomited. Chapter 5: Bought stock in Pepto Bismol.

Last Friday, somewhere in this crazy world Roger Goodell should have been smiling. The NFL commissioner should have felt like a principal on the first day of school as he watched rookies and veterans report for training camp.

Instead, the expression on Goodell’s face arose from the image of Michael Vick making his first appearance in a federal court the previous day.

There was one of the poster boys of Goodell’s $1 billion product starting his journey through the judicial system because of his indictment by a federal grand jury on multiple charges related to an alleged dog-fighting ring in Virginia.

Goodell wishes today that we were pondering whether the Redskins would rise out of the basement on the arm of Jason Campbell or whether the Patriots would just dominate the league on the field the way they did in free agency.

Goodell wants people filling his training camp with jerseys and big foamy No. 1 fingers (not that finger, you sicko), but instead he has PETA and enraged Atlanta Falcons season-ticket holders with dogs at the gates.

The $1 billion question: Will Michael Vick wear Falcons red and black in ’08 or correctional facility fluorescent orange?

Goodell groans as the dominant preseason question in sports bars remains: Will Vick wear Falcons red and black in ’08 or correctional facility fluorescent orange?

All this has been just one of the stories of Roger Goodell’s summer.  His June and July were dog days (no pun intended), as he had to sit down "Pacman Jones" for the upcoming year, and then Tank Johnson for half, and finally fold a developmental league in NFL Europa.

Goodell, who is different in many ways from his predecessor Paul Tagliabue, does share a belief that no one player is bigger than the league.

Sadly, just when the commish thought he was turning the corner to a season where the fans and media talked actual football, the Feds come a-knocking for Vick.

"While it is for the criminal justice system to determine your guilt or innocence, it is my responsibility as commissioner of the National Football League to determine whether your conduct, even if not criminal, nonetheless violated league policies, including the Personal Conduct Policy," Goodell said in a letter to the quarterback produced by ESPN.com.

Only a few months after the truth was revealed about the Duke lacrosse scandal, which gave many in the media red faces for jumping the gun and landed a former district attorney in the unemployment line for jumping the law, Goodell, while still in a dilemma, has acted swiftly and intelligently.

Like him or not, this is America and Vick is innocent until proven guilty.  This case will not be decided on a radio sports talk show, newspaper column or even a football field. It will be decided in a federal courtroom.

Unfortunately, the Falcons don’t have the luxury of time. With or without Vick, the first day of camp had to start. Now first-year head coach Bobby Petrino must look to an average-at-best Joey Harrington as Vick’s replacement.

Goodell and the NFL still are left with numerous dilemmas, none of which involve a pigskin or a punt but rather penalty flags off the field.

Highlights of Michael Vick playing against Boston College during his time at Virginia Tech.

Wes McElroy hosts "The Final Round" Monday-Friday 4pm-6pm on ESPN AM840.