Thursday, January 19, 2006

Vick II won't do NFL any good

In this week's Turret, we're printing one of the first letters to the editor we've had in a while... and, as it turns out, it's a piece of hatemail directed toward me. It was for this column, and it brands me a "racist." Read at your own risk.

Vick II won't do the NFL any good


Turret Sports Editor

It's odd that the National Football League isn't subjected to the same scrutiny as that of Major League Baseball. If it were, then Marcus Vick would have scuttled his hopes of going pro more than a year ago.

Tuesday's sports section of "USA Today" carried headlines both of the younger Vick's latest scrape with the law--brandishing a handgun to scare three teenagers in a McDonald's parking lot--and of the latest adventures of Pete Rose, baseball's "greatest dirtball," who is currently living in Las Vegas and making more than $1 million annually by selling his signature.

Rose, of course, was cast out of the league for making baseball bets, including some on the Cincinnati Reds, whom he was managing at the time. With Vick's colorful history of offenses and misbehavior, any pro team still willing to draft him is going to get exactly what it deserves: a liability that'll make Terrell Owens seem like Momma McNabb.

Drug possession, supplying alcohol to minors, contributing to the delinquency of minors, speeding, driving on a suspended license... and these are just the missteps Vick's taken while off the field.

As a football player, Vick is undoubtedly talented--but as Owens was more trouble than he was worth to the Philadelphia Eagles, so too will Vick be more trouble than he's worth to any team he plays for following his dismissal from Virginia Tech.

Stomping on the left calf of Louisville defensive end and first team All-American Elvis Dumervil during the Gator Bowl Jan. 2 is only the most recent of Vick's displays of poor sportsmanship. On Oct. 1, he was caught making an "obscene gesture" to fans during VT's game at West Virginia.

It should also be noted that Vick's poor sportsmanship is the only thing anyone remembers the Gator Bowl for. That Virginia Tech beat the Cardinals 35-28 is largely irrelevant. And Vick didn't earn any new friends in Louisville when Dumervil said he'd never received the apology Vick claimed to have made.

It was enough to finally earn him the boot from Virginia Tech, which had already seen fit to suspend him on several other occasions. Unfazed, Vick declared he would simply take his game "to the next level," announcing his intention to go pro.

That took a certain amount of gall--but not as much as it did to follow up his announcement by pulling a pistol on three teens in a parking lot in Suffolk, Va. The teenagers reportedly were making fun of Vick's legal problems, so it's not as if Vick could have possibly thought he'd get away with it unrecognized.

Suffolk also happens to be the town where Vick's mother lives, so it's probably safe to say that he's a bit of a "local celebrity" -- for good or ill.

It wasn't as if former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett could get away with armed robbery in Columbus, the town he had helped earn the 2002 championship title for.

Vick has proven that he's got the makings of a professional--but not a professional athlete. With a rap sheet like his, it would seem that he's more cut out to be a professional thug.

Any NFL team that sees fit to draft him will deserve whatever will undoubtedly happen as a result.


UPDATE: Here's the letter I got in response.

Use of certain words keeps racism alive

I read the column of Spc. Ian Boudreau in last week's Turret. Most of it was fact.

I have only one question for him. Can he tell me why he in particular and the media in general always refer to black athletes who get into a little trouble as "thugs?"

I enjoy mostly all sports and have seen my share of poor sportmanship in most of them. Let's not forget that the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and even the good ol' boys in NASCAR have all had altercations on television. Yet Boudreau or the local media never refer to these people as thugs.

I am equally ashamed of the University of Louisville and its coaching staff. They could not win the Gator Bowl on the field, so they succeeded in getting the local media to advertise the poor sportmanship of Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick. That was done in hopes of getting revenge for a lead that the Cards once again could not secure to win the game.

These coaches need to work on keeping their players motivated for 60 minutes.

Using words like "thug" helps keep racism alive. You don't refer to your own race as thugs when they misbehave in sports.

I can only hope that God will help Boudreau to grow wiser as a young journalist and to show equal representation to all.


Editor's Note: The term thug is derived from "thuggee," a member of a 19th century group in India that murdered and robbed in the name of the Hindu goddess Kali.

It's been used as a common term for more than 100 years and refers to those of any race or nationality who behave as hoodlums.

Vick's cumulative behavioral problems on and off the football field over the past three years resulted in his dismissal from Virginia Tech following the Gator Bowl, and qualify him to be categorized as a thug.