By Mark Bradley | Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 07:54 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
How must it be, being Michael Vick?
From prince of this bustling city to pariah of an entire country; from idol of millions to cheap joke on the â€œTonight Show;â€ from having too many friends to having no friends at all â€” how must that feel? How must it feel to arise each morning believing the walls have moved ever closer in the dark of night?
Twenty days ago you stood in a federal courtroom as one of four defendants. Today you stand apart. The other three have, or will, plead guilty. The other three have turned on you, the old pal they called Ookie. The other three are scrambling to save themselves. At this late date, who saves Michael Vick?
Not Arthur Blank. That cord has been all but cut. So completely have you fallen from the rich manâ€™s graces that he has been moved to apologize, nearly four years after the fact, for the hardly heinous act of pushing you in a wheelchair. How must that feel, knowing Blank once deemed you worth $130 million of his money and all of his conspicuous affection but having no reason to believe he ever wants to see you again?
How must it feel, knowing you came as close to Having It All as anyone from your background â€” heck, as anyone from any background, the Rockefellers included â€” ever can? How must it feel, having gone from seeing your replica jersey adorn the backs of folks from all walks of life to being reduced to the indignity of your likeness peddled as a $7.99 doggie chew toy?
How must it feel, having spent your formative years dreaming of bigger and better, having risen from the rough neighborhoods of Newport News â€” Bad Newz, as itâ€™s known, the same name you gave your ill-fated â€œkennelâ€ â€” only to find that those old ties were a snare? How must it feel, knowing the speed that enabled you to run away from everybody cannot shake the feds?
The feds, you learn with every passing day, arenâ€™t the Carolina Panthers. They arenâ€™t the Miami-Dade cops. They donâ€™t want your autograph. They want to throw you in jail. The feel-good story of rising from the streets of Bad Newz to owning a mansion in Sugarloaf is surely yielding to the stark reality that you could be prison-bound. How do you sleep at night? In whom (besides your many lawyers) do you confide?
Warrick Dunn told reporters Monday heâ€™d spoken with you recently. He also said, â€œI donâ€™t think anybody on this team, right now, is hoping that Mike comes back.â€ Perhaps that sounded harsher than Dunn, a genuinely nice man, meant, but the sentiment was coldly instructive. Once you were the face and future of this franchise. Now youâ€™re yesterdayâ€™s man. The Falcons donâ€™t want you and act as if they donâ€™t need you. How has it come to that?
Your legal options have apparently been reduced to two lousy choices: Either plead guilty or get hit with more charges, these surely bolstered by testimony from your former buddies. Itâ€™s still possible you could be acquitted at trial, but do you dare take that chance? Guilty at trial could mean five years in jail. A guilty plea might mean a year. How must that seem, the grim notion of a lesser sentence as best-case scenario?
And what of football? If you plead guilty, when might you be cleared to play again? What team would want you and your baggage if/when you are? You spoke often of wanting to be a great quarterback, a Super Bowl quarterback, but now, at age 27, youâ€™re damaged goods. You havenâ€™t been brought low by debilitating injury â€” youâ€™re long past the broken leg of 2003 â€” or an act of God. Youâ€™ve undone yourself. You put yourself in places you didnâ€™t need to be.
And now youâ€™re alone. You donâ€™t really have a team or teammates anymore, and you mightnâ€™t have a job for long. How must it feel, to have been given so much and to have thrown it all away? How must it be, being Michael Vick?
Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm".
Henry David Thoreau
Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.
"Luck is the residue of design." - Branch Rickey