MICHAEL VICK Deserved Another Shot To Prove He is a Mere Mortal. There's Good News. There's Old News. And There's Bad News. Two Apply to Vick. The Other is his Hometown.
If an athletes place of geo-titular origin is any fair predictor of his prospects for NFL success, could we honestly expect a guy who hails from Bad News, Virginia to have a publicly perfect playing career? It would never be All-Good for Michael Vick - the most gifted vision-runner since Barry Sanders. There has never been a more talented pure-athlete at QB in the history of the National Football League. That said, perhaps it is arguable that there has also never been a more conflicted personality to grace the gridiron and take snaps under center. It can be argued that Vick revolutionized the Quarterback position. Though at times he seemed to rep the QB more like Nas than Favre.
Michael Vick has always been absolutely amazing. But amazing is a strong word, one best blended with elixing chasers like character, class, maturity, and leadership. Amazing is far too strong a term to drink straight. In life, and particularly in sports, Amazing lends itself to a certain iconic ubiquity that, if one is fortunate, will ultimately manifest itself in Greatness. Getting by on amazing alone is tantamount to pushing a Porsche down PCH in only first gear - She looks good. She sounds great. But she'll never excellerate past these Glitz and Glam stages if you don't advance her past amazing. Vick tried, and struggled. Because amazing wasn't enough.
To me, Michael Vick was always reminiscent of Allen Iverson, who also arrived to the NBA from the Bad News area. The two stars are, in fact, my two favorite floor athletes of all-time. I use the term floor athletes selectively because I could only watch A.I. and Vick play. I was forced to look the other way and hope for the best whenever either athlete was not in uniform. Cornrows and charisma, talent and swag-atude. Applauded college careers that never extended beyond their sophomore years because they needed money like kindergarteners need candy - Now, not Later. Lots of talent. Tons of memorable moments, SportsCenter highlights, signature Jersey's sold and record-breaking honors. Each mans transition to fame and fortune scrutinized unfairly due to their perceived unwillingness to conform to the norm; to their respective leagues "status quo". Unfair simply because neither Michael Vick nor Allen Iverson had ever been normal. They'd only been amazing. Normal was asking too much, and too little, all with only a single question mark. They major in exclamation points! Save the questions for Coach.
Personally, I never believed Michael Vick was normal (maybe super-human but...) in the first place. There's no way you place 3rd in the Heisman voting as a Freshman at relatively tiny Virginia Tech (which wasn't even an ACC school at the time); get selected #1 overall in the '01 draft after only passing for 1439 yards & 9 touchdowns in your Sophomore year based on arcane combine variables like "upside", "40 speed" and "wow factor"; only to become the highest paid player in the league with a #7 jersey that sold more than any player in the league at the time. Vick is the only NFL Quarterback to rush for better than 1ooo-yards in a single season (1039). He also holds the QB rushing records for yards in a game with 173 and 100-yard rushing games (17).
The endorsements arrived in multi-million dollar waves: Nike, EA Sports, Coca-Cola, Powerade, Kraft, Rawlings, Hasbro, AirTran. Unfortunately, perhaps even predictably, so did the criminal allegations and questionable social maturity issues. Instances when amazing isn't enough. When you're expected to be
In 'o4, two dudes were driving a truck registered to Vick. No big deal, aside from the fact that said truck was loaded with marijuana. In '05, Sonya Elliott filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging that she contracted genital herpes from him. In '06, Vick flipped off game-attending fans at the Georgia Dome. That double-barrelled middle finger cost him $10k (and another DimeK in charitable contributions). Then of course there was the Weed in the Water Bottle incident at the Miami airport in '07 and.... then... later... that same year the dog-fighting bombshell hit the fan and Vick's personal and professional worlds were destroyed.
Ok so, he messed up big time. That's bad news, but I told you that in the header. Here is an alternate way to look at his situation. Vick has yet to be charged with a DUI, to be charged with rape, or vehicular homicide, or kidnapping, or possession for sales, or assault, or child abuse or any criminal act done with the intent of harming another human being. Why is this important?
Because I don't feel that Michael Vick knew the dogfighting incident was as wrong, as ruthlesstly illegal and sadistically immoral, as it was. In Bad News like in most hoods in the US, if you ain't selling dope, abusing women, neglecting your children or robbing banks you're alright. Had Michael Vick known the consequences of his actions, of his involvement in the dogfighting ring, he wouldn't have been involved. Vick grew up in a world where not harming other human beings was perceived to be a surefire way to stay out of trouble. Deer, Fish, Dogs, Rabbits and many other NRA-mantel donning "sports", on the other hand, were fair game. Don't be a hypocrite.
Michael Vick has yet to be tattooed with the "Team Obliterator" tag that haunts Terrell Owens from team to team. He has yet to brush a child off, refusing to sign an autograph. I don't think Michael Vick is a bad person. I think Michael Vick has made some bad decisions, and has lost millions of dollars and years of playing time in the prime of his athletic career because of those bad decisions. Though I also think that Vick has gained from his experiences, from his mishaps and pen time, and deserves an opportunity to prove he is a human being. That he remains amazing, and with Dungy's mentorship and the support of the Philly faithful, can even be normal on occassion. So Hello, Philadelphia! What it look like, homie! Only a man free as a bird can fly like an Eagle... into the future.