by Terence Moore
Friday, August 10, 2007, 11:44 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
It’s the Atlanta sports version of the perfect storm, and it involves this blind loyalty given to Michael Vick by many in the African-American community despite his self-imposed horrors.
I don’t get it.
Then again, I do. This goes back to that perfect storm, soaking everything from Peachtree City to Lake Lanier.
You have the thunder, which is the emotional thing that comes from centuries of watching African-Americans mistreated in this country from the old cotton fields to the new corporate offices. You have the lightning, which is the hype thing that turns a professional athlete into such a superhero that the average fan can’t separate reality from fantasy. You also have the rain, which is the inferiority thing that comes from a slew of pitiful Atlanta teams that nevertheless have produced a Mount Rushmore of sports icons in the African-American community: Dominique Wilkins, Deion Sanders and Vick.
Why did they trade ‘Nique when he was all the Hawks had?
Then they let Prime Time get away over a bunch of foolishness.
Now they’re out to get Vick because of a bunch of dogs.
It’s just dogs.
Add all of that together, and it leads to Charles Steele, the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, declaring last week that Vick should be “honored” for being “an outstanding human being.” It causes hundreds to march to the Georgia Dome to declare that they will support Vick whether he’s guilty or innocent. It makes some of us become verbal tackling dummies for those wishing to vent their displeasure over the media’s treatment of their last Mount Rushmore guy.
Never mind that Vick is mentioned more than 50 times in a federal indictment for dogfighting. Forget that he hasn’t exactly been Warrick Dunn, a certified “outstanding human being” after years of flourishing on and off the field.
“It’s just dogs,” I keep hearing as a mantra, from the church to the barbershop to the grocery store.
Well, guess what? Whether you like it or not, you can’t rob a bank, you aren’t allowed to kidnap people, and you’re not supposed to fight dogs. Whether you like it or not, dogfighting is a felony. If you wish to be defiant by robbing that bank, or kidnapping those people, or getting involved in dogfights, then you shouldn’t complain if you’re a jury away from munching cold beans on a tin plate someday.
Let’s consider a few indisputable facts about Vick. For one, he gets paid more than any player in the NFL. For another, his position of quarterback is the most visible in his sport. Plus, until recently, he was part of more than a few national and local advertising campaigns.
So nobody is “picking” on somebody like that, to use a favorite word of his blind loyalists. If you’re Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby or anybody else of high profile, and if you put yourself in a criminal situation, you’re naturally going to get scrutinized in this era of endless news cycles. Which brings us to the indisputable fact that Vick put himself in a criminal situation.
His property in rural Virginia apparently featured the Mother of All Dogfighting Operations during all five years of his ownership. Not only that, those involved were part of the so-called “crew” that he has sworn allegiance to since his youth.
Speaking of youth, here’s another indisputable fact: Contrary to the thoughts of Vick’s blind loyalists, he isn’t a kid anymore. He’s 27. He has played six years in the league. He is old enough to know better. Instead, he spent the months before his dogfighting case putting himself in situations involving that water-bottle craziness, the flipping off of fans at a Falcons home game, the Ron Mexico deal, the stiffing of U.S. congressmen for an event, the stolen watch by his boys, the holding of something resembling a blunt in an Internet photo.
This should be all about protecting the youth. For instance: What sort of example are we setting by saying anything less than the truth about these knuckleheads? The truth is that, when they put themselves in criminal situations, they are wrong. That’s whether they can use their famous legs to sprint through a perfect storm without getting wet or not.