By Terence Moore | Monday, August 20, 2007, 03:10 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Even now, with Michael Vick doing the inevitable on Monday by accepting a plea deal with the feds, the gory details keep coming about his alleged role in illegal gambling and the Virginia felony that is dogfighting. Thatâ€™s why there is something he must do for the sake of the Falcons, the NFL, his delusional followers and himself.
He must become the anti-Pete Rose, which means Vick must come absolutely clean about his self-inflicted scandal that keeps dominating the news cycles, and he must do so now. Not only that, he must do it dramatically enough to make you believe that he believes what he is saying about confession and repentance.
If Vick does all of that in public, and if his delusional followers stop encouraging him to stay defiant by excusing away everything he does wrong (the water bottle thing, the flipping off the fans, the stiffing of the U.S. Congressmen, the Ron Mexico deal, the airport watch incident), he will be forgiven by more than just a Higher Power. He will be forgiven by just about anybody you can imagine.
â€œOh, I agree,â€ said Dr. Patrick J. Devine, professor of psychology at Kennesaw State University and a former sports psychologist for the Braves. â€œThe mindset of the public is like, â€˜Give it up, Michael. Just admit that you screwed up and letâ€™s move on.â€™ I mean, there is nobody out there who relishes seeing him go to trial and go through all of that stuff. Look. The American public likes heroes so much that they always want to forgive them quickly.â€
Rose wouldnâ€™t know, because he wasnâ€™t paying attention. Just as Richard Nixon never admitted to involvement in the Watergate break-in or cover up, and just as Woody Hayes never admitted to slugging that Clemson player, Rose never admitted to gambling on baseball in general or his Cincinnati Reds in particular.
Well, Rose sort of did nearly a decade later by writing a book, but nowhere among the pages did the all-time hits leader fully explain or apologize for the thing that got him permanently banned from baseball. Just like Nixon and Hayes, Rose convinced himself that the lie that he created surrounding his â€œthingâ€ was actually the truth. Just like Nixon and Hayes, Rose was defiant over his thing.
Which brings us to Vick: He needs to stop anything that resembles defiance (â€œEverywhere I go around the world, people love Michael Vick,â€ he said into a television camera after he was slapped with those illegal dogfighting charges). He needs to avoid blaming others for his predicament, because it is his house associated with this dogfighting mess, and it is his â€œfriendsâ€ who said they were involved. Mostly, he needs to admit to everything.
Times. Dates. Motives.
Then Vick needs to cry on Barbara Waltersâ€™ couch on national television. After that, he needs to call Larry King. Then he needs to do â€œ60 Minutes,â€ and with legendary bulldog Mike Wallace prodding and poking, he needs to pull a Jimmy Swaggart. Through it all, Vick needs to save a few sobs for Bryant Gumbel on HBOâ€™s â€œReal Sports,â€ but you know exactly where Iâ€™m going: Oprah.
What is more amazing than Americaâ€™s willingness to forgive anybody for just about anything (including the hanging and the drowning of dogs) is how many folks donâ€™t understand what I just said.
â€œPart of it is ego, and over the years, people always have done just about everything for them, and made excuses for them, and spun stories certain ways when theyâ€™ve gotten in trouble,â€ said Devine, who inadvertently was describing how Falcons officials have joined Vickâ€™s delusional followers in coddling the guy for years. â€œNo doubt, we pamper our athletes so much that they begin to look for that knight in shining armor coming over the hill whenever they get into a tough spot.â€
The only thing coming over the hill now for Vick is more trouble, and it is holding a mighty sword. Still, he can block it with the shield of an open heart.
That and lots of tears.
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