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Michael Vick's Cover of "Redemption Song"

September 27, 2010

I'm actually slightly tied into the Michael Vick comeback story, or at least in my own mind I am. This goes much further than us being around the same age and from the state of Virginia.   I'll get to that in a moment. Vick did something terrible, or at least allowed his boys from the 757 to do something terrible with his money and from that he could not escape. He paid his price, both physically (through time served) and financially (through the loss of millions of dollars from his contract and endorsements). While I have my doubts that he was in the ring feeding Fido raw steak before his big match, he probably knew more than he admits about what was happening. I've always been a dog person, so the concept of fighting dogs for money is absolutely sickening. But who am I to judge?



I say this because I, too, have had my issues with the legal system in the form of multiple DUI arrests. Some might argue that what I did was worse than what Vick did. I never injured anyone in any of the times I was arrested, but I very well could have. I do not know why I didn't fully learn my lesson when I got the first two, but I didn't, and ended up with a third, causing me to have a felony rap sheet nestled right up next to my B.A. in English and M.ED in Secondary Education.  I went to jail for a little over five months, had to give up coaching jobs at my old high school, and in the aftermath, have given up drinking, lost the majority of my friends, moved twice in a year, have cut my monthly income in half, and sleep on an air mattress, on the floor in my sister's townhouse. I guess you could say this is my version of coming back to the NFL, rediscovering that I still have some level of skills and intelligence, yet due to things like not having a license, being on probation, and the aforementioned felony, am probably going to have to wait a while before I'm back in the game so to speak.

Vick's comeback means different things on different levels to various football fans.  On the surface, most people now just have a heavily viable option on their fantasy football squads.  He's always been able to run better than anyone I've seen from that position, other than maybe Randall Cunningham, and now, he has developed into a mature and patient passer who still has a cannon for a left arm. With weapons like Deshaun Jackson and Jeremy Maclin--plus second year RB Leshaun McCoy--Philly's offense could be scary good.

The next level includes Virginia Tech fans, and probably a lot of Atlanta Falcon fans, who genuinely invested countless hours cheering for Vick, looking at him as their hero on Saturdays and Sundays, that are willing to forgive and forget because seeing number seven back on top reminds them of better and more prosperous days from their respective pasts.  I was in the stands, in Blacksburg, back in the day, when he was first making a name for himself.  I remember the electricity; I remember what it felt like back then. He literally put not only VT, but arguably the entire state of Virginia on the sports landscape, like Ronald Curry was supposed to do, and like Allen Iverson kind of did.

The next level I would assume includes those that actually know him personally. They obviously have much more invested in his success, so for them, they have to feel like sticking by him and helping him wade through the mess he made of his life was worth it. It's only been two and a half games, but if he continues on the path he's on right now, both personally and professionally, it could be one of the greatest comeback stories ever in sports.

I ended the first paragraph by saying who am I to judge. Part of me is extremely bitter and jealous of million dollar athletes who get second, third, and fourth chances seemingly all the time. I don't enjoy feeling like my life is passing me by every second as my peers buy houses, get married, have kids, and advance in their careers, while I go backwards and as of yet, haven't gotten much of a chance to get back to where I was, and should be. As recently as this August, Vick was embroiled in controversy, as there was a shooting at his somewhat extravagant birthday party right here in Virginia Beach, where one of his dog fighting co-defendants got shot. So again, it goes back to how many chances should someone get? Vick saw the same thing that I did; however,  when he was rotting away in jail, probably getting heated watching players in his peer group, that he was better than, win Super Bowls. So in that regard, I completely empathize with him. We both sabotaged our lives, and did it to ourselves.

I'm tied into his comeback in a different way than the groups I mentioned. On a personal level that literally overwhelmed me yesterday as I watched the Sportscenter highlights of the Philly-Jacksonville game, I realized that, albeit on a much smaller scale, maybe seeing number seven do what he's doing is meant to show me something. My faith in God has been utterly shaken since October 5, 2008, the night I got arrested, but it kind of makes sense that He would use the medium of sports, which I watch and follow religiously, to drive it through my thick and stubborn skull to stop pouting and pull myself up off the canvas and fight again. Because honestly, after coming back from DUI's #1 and #2, I've questioned my resolve and strength time and time again. I've never lacked confidence in myself at this level, I've never hated other people to this extent, and I've watched myself grow into an introvert who doesn't even really enjoy being around people anymore. I just basically stay by myself and mope, only ever leaving the house for work, go to my probation required AA meetings, or on a run.

I do still watch sports frequently, because it's the one thing I've always done that I can still really do, holding onto the fantasy that this obsession, coupled with moderate intelligence, will one day help me out of the mess I made. I do things like blog for LCB, because even though many days pass by where I feel there's no hope, I still cling to the notion, that maybe this is the post that someone who has made it will stumble upon, and maybe realize that this kid can write a little bit.

Maybe Michael Vick's comeback means nothing more than the fact that a supremely gifted athlete is still supremely gifted. Maybe it means that within our society people are always able to come back from mistakes they've made if they work hard, gain some humility, and truly learn from what they've done to advance themselves. Maybe I'm looking way to deep into this, somehow rationalizing that this dude who is sick with a football in his hands somehow has something in common with my dumbass, simply because I really like sports and was a college athlete. But maybe, it will show me that strength and perseverance are my ticket back to respectability, and that there is a rainbow after the thunderstorm. I don't know the answer, maybe I'll keep you posted. Till then, keep throwing touchdown passes number seven, keep proving everybody wrong, because there's a Chicago Bears fan in the 757 that suddenly might have become your biggest fan, because, frankly, his life and success is tied to yours.

Photo 1, entitled "The Eye," courtesy of John Steven Fernandez.
Photo 2 courtesy of BuzzDemon.com.
Photo 3 courtesy of Maila Dai.

1 comments:

Russ said...

don't know what else to say other than good write up.

September 28, 2010 at 7:10 PM

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