By Furman Bisher | Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 07:23 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The broadcast media were awash in it. Our front page gave readers a split-image of his face, close up. Atlanta was red-faced with embarrassment, from Her Honor, the Mayor, on down. The fairy tale of Michael Vick had become the odious story of a brilliant career crashing down in ruins.
On the inside of the sports section was a story of another nature. Uplifting. Of an athlete of another nature. The state of Alabama had inducted its native son, Henry Aaron, into its Academy of Honor. The story bore a minor headline, what we call a 14-pointer, but it told more about a man than all the copy footage told us about Vick, the blemished Falcons quarterback.
Arthur Blank, Vickâ€™s former employer and fond admirer, had this to say: â€œYou think you know somebody for six years and you find out another side of his personality that you didnâ€™t know.â€ It was a painful admission of a man-child spoiled. Knowing one side but not the dark side, the feeling that he was the real No. 7 inside all those shirts on the backs of Falcons fans, and invincible. Error-proof. They have been marked down or removed from the rack.
The first error made was when Dan Reeves was fired during the season. It was 2003, when Vick had injured a leg in preseason and Reeves was without his quarterback much of the schedule. He presented a fatherly figure, which in more ways than one was the opposite of the coach who succeeded him, Jim Mora, a kind of free-wheeler whose demeanor was less authoritative than Reevesâ€™.
No further reason to sear Arthur Blank for his coddling, for his sideline fellowship with Vick. He had, in his mind, found a treasure, and the light was very bright at the end of the tunnel. However, there have been enough â€œred flagsâ€ raised to have aroused his attention, and those have been recounted time and time again. All, apparently, brushed off under the heading of â€œboys will be boys.â€ I donâ€™t know that any person in authority with the Falcons ever came close to envisioning the scenes so often flashed on your television screen of late. The house that Vick had acquired for extracurricular activity, fun and games with his posse, could never have been imagined to be the den of sin now depicted.
Earlier in the year, when the Falconsâ€™ backup quarterback Matt Schaub was traded to Houston, I wrote a column that suggested, â€œThey traded the wrong quarterback.â€ Now, Iâ€™m not dumb enough to even suspect that Vick was tradeable, with the investment Mr. Blank had made in him and all the baggage that went along with him. But my facetious theme met with derision, so did the backup quarterback, who was addressed as The Great Matt Schaub. Oh, but wouldnâ€™t it be nice if Bobby Petrino had The Great Matt Schaub in his camp now.
At this disturbing stage of the dilemma, there isnâ€™t much left to be said. That final decision is in the hands of the federal court in Richmond and the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell. The probability is that Vick will be a long time away from any football game short of something similar to â€œThe Longest Yard.â€ No amount of apology can wipe his slate clean and restore him all burnished and glistening to the league. When he lied before a judge, to commissioner Goodell, and to whoever else, he paved his own way to degradation.
I choose to leave it at that. It seemed that I simply have joined in the conga line of writers and naysayers who have spoken out. Now I have, and selah.
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