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My Weekend in Hell
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On October 5, 2010 @ 7:17 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
I moved this past weekend from my apartment of four years to the apartment complex next door. I love the neighborhood too much to leave, but I had grown tired of the management of my now former complex leaving me voicemails and handwritten notices on my door hinting at eviction if I did not rid myself of my dog, whom they wrongly believed to be a chronic barker (he isn’t – the chronic barker belongs to the family down the hall). They were careful not to use the word eviction, as they had no legal grounds for actually following through on their threats.
One of my least favorite aspects of moving is dealing with our local cable company. Prompt isn’t in their vocabulary. I placed the call to have service transferred on Thursday. I was told they’d have a rep out to take care of it on Tuesday. That means no cable for the weekend. That means no football. No football to watch on my new 42″ flattscreen. Yes, for the first time in probably 20 years, I was going to go an entire weekend without seeing a single snap. I did catch enough of the Redskins/Eagles game on radio to know that one of the subjects of this article was injured, but I don’t think I could tell you right now the final score of a single game. Thank God it’s the bye week.
Given that I have so much free time, however, I’ll use it as a chance to give some perspective on four controversial players, none of whom play for my team, and three of whom I’m glad don’t.
Reggie Bush. In terms of potential, it’s hard to imagine someone in recent history with more pure athletic potential. Bush belongs in the same elite class as Bo Jackson and Kordell Stewart – multifaceted players with what was perceived to be a near unlimited ceiling for growth. I use those two because, like Bush, neither of their careers panned out the way anybody foresaw.
It’s tough for me to speak ill of Jackson, my boyhood hero. His productivity was always on par with expectations. It was a single hit that damaged beyond repair perhaps the finest body the athletic world has ever seen.
Stewart, by contrast, is easier to criticize. Prior to his rookie year, a well-known shoemaker ran an ad featuring Stewart wherein he was asked to eschew his skills as a passer, runner, and receiver, and instead focus on being a punter. Nobody understood how vitally correct that commercial would be. Stewart elected to play quarterback, the position at which he was least able. He didn’t do poorly. He did a passable job (pun intended). He didn’t, however, play well enough to fend off the threat of Tommy Maddox, which, for as likable of a guy as Maddox may be, speaks volumes of where Stewart landed versus where the rest of the world thought he would land.
Stewart, in this regard, is a near perfect comparison for Bush. Bush never rode pine behind a player of as questionable skill as Tommy Maddox, but he never could beat out Deuce McAllister. Deuce was always a legitimate #1 back, but he was never elite. Bush, by his draft position and salary, was expected to be. He has yet to arrive.
It’s with this in mind that I question whether or not Bush should have been asked to return his Heisman Trophy. Were he what he was expected to be – the rare tailback that could achieve the level of stardom normally reserved for signal callers – would he have been asked to do so? We ask little of our greatest heroes, often to a fault (see my article The Pervasiveness of Permissivism). When our heroes have fallen, however, we do the opposite – we make unreasonable demands of them (for instance, asking Britney Spears, the impregnable bastion of teenage virtue, not to put on a few pounds post-pregnancy).
Bush, in my eyes, is exactly that – a fallen hero. He’s not a bust, but he has yet to come even remotely close to achieving his perceived potential. And, like Stewart before him, we may yet discover that his greatest talent is as a punter.
I don’t believe for a moment that that’s a good enough reason to expect him to return such an important prize.
Whether we as a society choose to acknowledge it or not, NCAA football is a professional sport. It is a for-profit endeavor. The only difference, in the words of Jamie Foxx as Willie Beamen in Any Given Sunday, is that “in the pros, the field hands get paid.” Only, as it turns out, sometimes some players do.
Consider what actually transpired. Bush, like hundreds, maybe thousands, of athletes before him, took money. While doing so was clearly a case of unbelievably poor judgment, ask yourself this: did that transaction do anything to affect Bush’s performance? No, it didn’t. Had that transaction not taken place, would Bush still be the winner of the Heisman Trophy? Yes, he would.
Had there been any ulterior motive attached to the payout, I would likely feel differently. I cannot, however, see clear to fault Reggie Bush for getting paid for nothing more than being Reggie Bush, and thus, I cannot see clear to believe that it was right for him to return the trophy, or even to be asked to do so. Bush is no saint, but he’s one of the greatest college athletes of his era, and deserves to be rewarded as such.
Now that I’ve relieved myself of that little bit, let’s move on. I promise the other three will be shorter than the first.
Michael Vick. I am, and always have been, a dog person (see opening narrative). I don’t feel for a moment that Vick’s punishment was severe enough. I understand the necessity from a legal standpoint for differentiating between animals and humans in terms of death and abuse. I have to. I’m a carnivore. Humans kill animals for food, and our treatment of those animals prior to death isn’t always all that humane. We also kill insects, arachnids, and rodents, sometimes as a means of preventing the spread of disease, but more often than not as a reactionary response to a mild to moderate annoyance. If we were allowed to kill our fellow man for similar reasons, well – most of us would be dead. Still, I have a hard time convincing myself that the difference in sentencing between torturing and killing a pet and torturing and killing a person should be so radically different.
Having said that, Vick, by the standard set forth in his conviction, has paid his debt to society, and therefore I cannot see how the assertion can be made that he doesn’t deserve the job he has now. Were he operating a bucket and a mop at an IHOP, the present objection wouldn’t be levied. What people fail to take into account, however, is that, pay grade aside, playing quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles isn’t much better of a job. Come to think of it, the bucket and mop might actually be less thankless.
Besides, we still let Vince Neil sing, and he killed a man. Let Vick play football, and leave judgment to the man upstairs.
As a side note, out of deference to Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair, I propose we resume referring to him as Michael McVick.
Larry Johnson. Larry, you’re now officially as much of a tool on the field as you are off. I propose the latter as a permanent state of affairs. Na na na na…
Brett Favre. It’s good to see the old man back to form: throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. He’s still an explosive player, and he’s still a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I hope with every season that it won’t be his last. Unfortunately I think that next season I’ll run out of luck, but as long as he’s here, and as long as he’s one of the 32 best quarterbacks in the league, I’m going to enjoy having one last opportunity to see him do his thing. I suggest you do the same. If you get caught by your friends doing so, just tell them nK said it was okay. When that fails, just tell them you’re tuning in to watch Jared Allen.
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