More and more lately, I've been thinking about the Michael Vick situation. Musician Nils Lofgren recently wrote an open letter
to the sports reporting community about their abject praise for the man and his career turnaround as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. While his views on the subject might seem a bit one-sided against Vick, I tend to agree with him on most of his points. He said to the press what most of us caring human beings feel about the situation.
Basically his argument came down to this:
In Vick's case, I believe his second chance should certainly allow him to be free and to love and raise his family. [break] However repentant he may be, he committed acts whose vileness will resonate down the years. When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.
I absolutely agree with that sentiment, and the fact that it has happened so successfully sickens me.
Now, despite being a New Yorker all my life I've also been a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but I think it came from gifts from an aunt who lived in the Philadelphia are as a child. Eagles hats, jerseys, sweatshirts and what not. They became my favorite NFL team by default. Like how Notre Dame became my favorite college football team. I was raised Irish Catholic in Long Island and we have no good football schools for miles and miles. Bam...Fighting Irish fan. And believe me, we are legion in this area.
But Michael Vick has soured my relationship with the Eagles. I was upset when they signed him last year, but I was at least was happy to see him ride the bench for most of it. Then they lose McNabb and presto...Michael Vick is the starting quarterback. And he is a candidate for the league MVP. And he is leading my formerly beloved Eagles to the playoffs. Yeah...I said formerly. I just can't watch them anymore. And NFL football as a whole, actually. He's ruined my enjoyment of the game. You see, Michael Vick is a bad guy. And I just can't get past that.
I think about the Kobe Bryant rape trial a few years back. He admitted to having sex with the woman who filed the complaint, but he denied any sexual assault. The case was eventually dropped when the woman was paid off...er, refused to testify at the trial. Yeah, that's what I meant. But there were these throngs of women outside the courthouse with "I love you, Kobe!" and "We believe you, Kobe!" signs. I just didn't understand that. At the very least, Kobe Bryant admitted to cheating on his wife with this woman AND he possibly got away with a sexual assault because of his money and cachet. Why would women support him for any reason? You see, Kobe Bryant is a bad guy. And I just can't get past that.
I could go on and on. You've got Ben Roethlisberger who now has two sexual assault allegations to his name to go with his two Super Bowl rings. The first one sounded like bullshit, but I don't know about the second one. No charges were filed for lack of evidence, but it SEEMS like he keeps putting himself in these situations where he is a bad guy when women are involved. Yet Steelers' fans, even the ladies, love him. Must be those rings, eh? Then there is Ray Lewis' involvement in a murder case, Adam "Pacman" Jones' off-field activities, all the MLB steroid gobblers, the NHL's Sean Avery and his misogynistic attitudes...all bad guys, in my opinion. And I just can't get past that.
Then you have the guys who have outwardly done nothing wrong, but who seem to be in it for the money alone. I wouldn't have put Derek Jeter in that category before this off-season, and I'm sure he's going to say all the right things about accepting "only" $18 million a year from the Yankees. And the pragmatist in me knows that if Jeter doesn't get that extra money from the Yankees, it's only going to go into the pockets of the Steinbrenners. The fans certainly aren't going to get a break either way. So the guy who has said and done all the right things in his career, seemed to hold out for more money even after his worst season ever at an age when ballplayer's skills begin a rapid decline. His agent will say that he is still taking a pay cut from what he had been making, and that's true. Jeter has already made a huge pile of money with the Yankees, and he earned just about every penny of it. Except he feels he deserves more. Or his agent feels that way. It's just so sickening.
I don't think there will ever be a time when I will NOT be a huge baseball fan. It's my favorite sport. I even somehow managed to get past the Steroid Era, and I'm still a huge fan. And I'm not just a Yankee fan. I love the game itself. I only root for the Yankees, but if nothing is on and I find a Royals/Indians game on somewhere? I'm happier than a pig in shit just watching the game.
I wonder if that would change if the Yankees had signed a guy like Michael Vick to play center field.