Vick listening now
By Terence Moore | Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 05:42 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At least for the moment, Michael Vick is embracing the tens of supporters that he now has over the millions who once existed in his world. To that end, he is quietly attending a little church near his motherâ€™s home in Chesapeake, Va. Even before his mea culpa this week after he pleaded guilty in a Virginia federal court to charges related to dogfighting, the 100 members or so spent recent weeks singing and praying over the Falcons quarterback at the altar in an attempt â€œto scream the demons out of him,â€ according to a famous visitor.
Itâ€™s a start.
So there is hope.
Since Vick says he has become a Christian while evolving from NFL star to convicted felon, weâ€™ll summarize his plight in biblical terms. Instead of the King James Version, weâ€™ll use the standard NFL translation: He was sacked for a huge loss, but he still can score a touchdown. Itâ€™s just going to take a few more hits for a guy who kept ignoring his blockers.
Blockers, prophets, advisers. Same thing in this case. Vick had so many folks trying to push him away from idol gods, but he ignored them. Now, he has to reap what he has sown. Still, courtesy of his confession from the heart, he has shown contrition, and he has asked for forgiveness. Repentance remains, but only because he didnâ€™t listen to his ever-present voices of reason earlier in his career. He heard a couple of those voices during the summer of 2002 in Greenville, S.C., where Vick huddled for the longest time with an icon from the civil-rights movement and an Atlanta columnist after a Falcons practice during training camp at Furman University. What started as a conversation of two became a trio after Andrew Young waved for me on the far side of the field to join them.
The discussion wasnâ€™t about the intricacies of the draw play. The discussion was about what Vick needed to do to avoid becoming another professional athlete with lots of money and notoriety getting embarrassed â€” or worse â€” before flashing cameras and live microphones. The discussion was about how he needed to use professionalism on and off the field. The discussion was about how he needed a spiritual rebirth.
Through it all, Vick used his ears more than his mouth.
So what happened?
â€œHe became guilty of ghetto loyalty,â€ said Young, the former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador, sighing on Wednesday with the memory. For instance: Soon after that huddle, Vick joined Young and other athletes for a trip to New York to help those needing wheelchairs via something called Wheelchair Charities. Thatâ€™s when Young told Vick, â€œThese are the things that you have to keep on doing. And, actually, if he had gone to trial, some of those guys had called me, and they were preparing to come to support him.â€
Then Vick became larger than life on the field and the rest of life around him became insignificant beyond his crew. It was one of his crew members who stole an expensive watch in his presence after they went through security at the Atlanta airport. In the midst of it all, his crew was hanging and drowning dogs.
Young sighed again, saying, â€œIâ€™m in Africa quite a bit, so I lost track of Michael for a long time. I did not follow up much with him, but he expressed an interest in learning how to do the right things, and he is a bright kid, but he has no background and no support network. Thatâ€™s why [during that huddle in 2002] I was trying to help him to realize that, all of a sudden, he is a star and a celebrity, and thatâ€™s a heavy burden, and you canâ€™t carry it alone. You need a support network around you.â€
Enter that little Virginia church, with missionary work in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique. Instead of sending money, clothes or food, the members go to those countries with farm machinery to help the citizens grow their own food. Vickâ€™s mother, Brenda Boddie, lives next door to the church secretary, and after becoming that famous visitor to the church earlier this summer, Young suggested to church members that they invite Vick to attend.
Before long, Boddie was in the pews, along with her son.
â€œI mean, I donâ€™t believe anybody hardly in the church has ever been to college, but theyâ€™re just common-looking people that are maids, and they work in laundries, and they just do simple things,â€ Young said. â€œThey have the spirit, though, and they ainâ€™t playing. Theyâ€™re having church. When they get through screaming and shouting over you, somethingâ€™s going to change.â€
Thatâ€™s the hope with Vick.
Thereâ€™s that word again.
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