By David Hughes
TERRE HAUTE — After much thought, I’ve decided to skip the “Super Bowl odds” column this year and perhaps forever.
C’mon, wipe that tear from your eye. You’ll survive the weekend without knowing the probability of O.J. Simpson appearing as NBC’s halftime guest.
To be honest, I really didn’t want to stop writing it. But I’m not in the mood for a fun column today.
If the National Football League reinstates convicted dog killer Michael Vick for the 2009 season –- Internet rumors have him possibly going to San Francisco or Chicago — I can no longer support the league that’s provided me with so many fond memories since 1967.
For example, who in Indiana can forget the Indianapolis Colts’ Super Bowl run two years ago? I won’t.
The New York Giants knocking off the “unbeatable” New England Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl was pretty darn fun to watch.
I’m even rooting for Edgerrin James, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals to whip the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
But after that, well, let’s see if the NFL does the right thing and permanently bans Vick after he’s released from federal custody, supposedly in July.
If it allows Vick to play in 2009, here is how I plan to respond:
1. I will no longer spend money on fantasy football (one of my favorite hobbies).
2. I will not willingly watch one second of an NFL game or an NFL highlight show. That includes my favorite team, the Colts, even if it’s not Indy that signs him. That also includes the Super Bowl, even if Dogkiller’s team isn’t in it.
3. Anytime I’m watching SportsCenter or any other television sports show, I will immediately change the channel whenever NFL news of any kind appears. If I’m seated in a restaurant with friends while an NFL show comes on TV, I will not leave, because I wouldn’t want to disrespect my friends. But I will pay as little attention to the show as humanly possible (except to make mental notes of the commercial sponsors so I’ll know which products I should avoid buying).
4. I will no longer read NFL-related message boards on the Internet.
5. I will encourage as many others as possible, even if some don’t take me seriously, to follow steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 with me.
6. If friends ask for my thoughts on some exciting game that took place the previous Sunday or Monday, I’ll probably say, “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. I don’t watch the NFL anymore.”
7. I will only write about NFL-related activities (such as Colts camp at Rose-Hulman this summer) if assigned to do so by this newspaper. Even at that, I will do so reluctantly.
I realize the NFL won't give a rat's behind if David Hughes in Terre Haute, Indiana, boycotts its product. But maybe if several hundred thousand pet owners take a stand, the league might resist the urge to ruin its reputation.
Sure, a prolonged boycott would be difficult for me to do. I really enjoy watching the NFL — so much that I’ve purchased most of the expensive DirecTV Sunday packages for my home over the last three years –- but my love for animals exceeds my love for the NFL. There’s no doubt that if I set my mind to it, this boycott will last as long as I live.
Come November, if sports fans are talking about the undefeated Colts or the undefeated Whoevers, all I need as a reminder for the boycott is thinking about what Vick did to his own pets.
I can’t comprehend what a poor excuse of a human being Vick must be if he could torture and kill those poor animals without showing the slightest hint of real remorse.
Roger Goodell, please do us all a favor: Don’t ever let this piece of garbage back in your great league.
If anyone would like to sign an Internet petition urging commissioner Goodell to ban Vick from the NFL permanently, go to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-NFL-from-reinstating-MichaelVick?page=7.
When I last checked, it had more than 20,400 signatures. Not enough to affect the NFL yet, but hopefully it’s a good start.
Think about it. The Atlanta Falcons did just fine without Vick in 2008 and, with the more talented and far more respectable Matt Ryan at quarterback, there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to improve in 2009.
Like the Falcons, the NFL is better off without Vick.
OK, I hear some of you saying: “But he will have paid his debt to society. He deserves a second chance to work. Blah, blah, blah.”
Yes, Vick deserves a chance to work. Let him get behind a fast-food counter asking customers if they want fries with their cheeseburger in Atlanta, although McDonald’s or Burger King surely can find more dignified employees than this thug at one of the local high schools.
If Vick “has a right” to play in the NFL again, I have a right to stop caring about the NFL.
• • •
• Practice makes perfect — Back on Jan. 14, a video of 13-year-old Ryan Francis of Charlotte, N.C., making an incredible outdoor basketball shot appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
What made the shot so incredible was that Francis threw the ball onto a neighbor’s garage roof, where it bounced down to the driveway, then it bounced up and off the backboard and dropped through the net.
In case you’re wondering why you should care, the teenager is the son of Mark Francis, one of my classmates at Terre Haute South High School and Indiana State University back in the Stone Ages.
The proud father said Ryan needed about 100 tries before getting the shot right.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224 after 4 p.m.; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.