Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Open Apology to Michael Vick

OK so I went off on you the other day, and now it appears you had no drugs on you, and no evidence of drugs on you. Well I guess I owe you an apology. But I won't write one because mark bradley of the ajc did a damn good job of saying what was on my mind. So with apologies to Mark Bradley for copying his shit, here you go Vick. I'm Sorry.

"I’m putting this out for public consumption, but it’s really directed toward one man. I’m saying this to you, Michael, and I’m saying this not as your agent or your publicist but as someone who knows a little about sports and, having hung around Flowery Branch since the day you were drafted, a little about you.

You need to take control of your life. You need to harness every molecule and minute and make this your most productive offseason. You need to give yourself the chance to experience, 12 or 24 months from now, your own Peyton Manning Moment. You need to work harder than you’ve ever worked to show everyone who’s saying you can’t take a team to the Super Bowl that you can.

This isn’t so much about the infamous water bottle and what might or might not have happened in Miami. This is about the bigger picture. From being hailed as the Michael Jordan of your sport, you’re now viewed in ever-expanding circles as a coach-killer or worse. Your wildly lucrative (and once carefully cultivated) career is being cheapened with every headline. When you entered the league you worked hard to say and do the right things, but increasingly you’ve become entangled in bizarre incidents that don’t reflect well on you or your employer.

As the saying goes: You can’t be framed if you don’t put yourself in the picture. I’m fairly certain Tom Brady — likewise single and good-looking — enjoys his social life, but I’ve never heard of Brady getting into a scrape in an airport security line. (For you, this makes twice.) You need to step back and remember your place in the sporting firmament, to recall who you are and what you represent. You once made it easy to believe in Michael Vick. You need to stop making it hard.

For all that, you still have a grand opportunity. This head coach arrives with the express mission of making you better. When Bobby Petrino was with Jacksonville, he’d sit with fellow assistant Dom Capers, ticketed to be the first coach of the expansion Texans, on charter flights and they’d talk about how it would be to have the draft’s No. 1 pick and for that No. 1 pick to be you. Way back then, Petrino was thinking of the plays he’d draw up to utilize your skill set. Lo and behold, here he is.

And what was your first face-to-face encounter with the new man? A “stressful” (Rich McKay’s word) meeting regarding the water bottle. Even the usually understanding front office sounds as if it has lost patience: The Falcons’ three-sentence release Monday didn’t mention you by name. And still missing from all the water-bottle blather is any explanation from you.

For someone so famous, it isn’t enough to be technically innocent. You have to be above suspicion. From this day forward, you need to do everything within your power — and ultimately everything remains within your power — to preclude external stress. If that means staying home six nights out of seven, then stay home. While you’re there, try watching game film. Better yet, call Petrino and ask if he’ll watch with you. I bet he’ll even spring for the pizza.

You’re 26, about to enter your seventh NFL season, and you’ve arrived at a crossroads. You can continue to be the uncertain player you became under Mora/Knapp, a runner one week and a thrower the next, and soon you’ll be 31 and looking to resurrect yourself the way all last-chances do - as an Oakland Raider. Or you can work with this clever coach and immerse yourself in detail and bring your fundamentals to the level of your immense gifts, and then (assuming the rest of the roster holds up its end) you’ll be what you’ve said you dream of being: A great quarterback, a Super Bowl quarterback.

You have the time. You have, goodness knows, the talent. You can get where Peyton Manning is going, but you have to apply yourself. These last few months have made us wonder if you’re as serious about your job as you need to be. Show us you are. Shut us all up. Take this team to the Super Bowl."

By Mark Bradley of The AJC

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