It is a sad commentary on the modern American sports world that the most uplifting sports story recently has been British soccer-prodigy David Beckham's long-delayed appearance in MLS. Baseball is coping with the fallout from Bonds breaking Aaron's HR record. Basketball is dealing with the whole crooked ref thing. Football is trying to figure out what to do with idiots like Pacman Jones. Cycling is mired in a doping scandal. I guess golf is pretty clean, but the sports current ambassador isn't having a season in his usual Woodsian form. But of course the latest debacle involves the Falcons undoubtedly-now-former quarterback, #7.
I read a few minutes ago that Vick has accepted a plea deal in the dogfighting case. I decided some time ago that he was clearly guilty, so I'm not surprised. But I am dissapointed that he plead not guilty in the first place. It really rubs people the wrong way when you claim to be not guilty, talk high and mighty about wanting to "clear your good name", then turn around and agree to a plea deal admitting your guilt. Cop to it up front and at least people will give you a little credit for honesty. But once his best friend from junior high accepted a plea deal and turned state's witness, it was obvious Mike was guilty as hell. Regardless of what he did or didn't actually do, he's guilty as hell. If he honestly didn't realize what was going on, he's guilty of being an idiot of what his money was being used for and guilty of surrounding himself with people who used him for his fame and fortune and guilty of repeatedly making extremely poor life choices. If he was more intimately involved, obviously, he's guilty of animal cruelty of an unspeakable degree and guilty of a flawed or nonexistant conscience. Frankly, I'm glad he's taking a deal, because it will undoubtedly involve jail time. The thing I was most concerned about was this case going to trial, and, despite his former co-defendants as witnesses for the prosecution, finding some stupid technicality that let him off the hook, in much the same way the badly-bungled OJ Simpson case went down.
I read a while back, I think on ESPN, that there were some rumblings among the black community about the whole thing being a conspiracy to bring down a high-profile black athlete. What? Okay, look, I totally understand the mistrust. I'm not naive enough to believe racism doesn't exist. However, you're bound to find it if that's what you want to see. There are plenty of other squeaky clean high-profile black athletes - Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, Dwayne Wade, Michael Jordan (okay, he's more peripheral now, but at his peak, he was bigger than Vick could ever be), Kevin Garnett, Jerry Rice (grandfather clause). If you want to see a conspiracy, I'm sure all the facts line up to look like a conspiracy. For most people, all the facts line up to look like a coddled prima-donna who forgot the wrong parts of his past.
I remember when Michael was the good one and Marcus was the screw up. I remember reading an interview with Frank Beamer talking about how spoiled Marcus was when he went to recruit him. Michael was living in the projects when Beamer brought him to VT. A couple years later, Marcus was living in a mansion with his mother driving cars his millionaire brother bought him. It was easy to write off Marcus as being spoiled by his brother's success. But it always seemed like Michael had a good head on his shoulders and had used his talent to better his station in life and help those around him. It was starting to become clear after a couple years in the NFL that the strong work-ethic and humbleness that had gotten him where he was had fallen by the wayside and he was feeling the same sense of entitlement as his younger brother. It's too bad to see such talent go to waste, but don't get me wrong, I'm not sympathetic to people who have more money than they know what to do with and still find things to complain about and dumb things to do with their fortunes.
NFL commish Goodell has said that this incident won't overshadow the season. Yeah right. Even if a sentence is handed down and Vick is behind bars before the Falcons first regular-season game, the damage is done and I guarantee every commentator will be talking about it on air. And it's not just damaging to Atlanta, it's going to affect the entire league. Even my grandmother, the most diehard Redskins fan I know, has expressed her own waning interest in watching football this fall, and that makes me sadder than probably anything else.