Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Athletes, Swim Or Sink


After hearing Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick's interview with ESPN's Hannah Storm, there is no question he is maturing.

During the interview, Vick accepted his back-up role to Kevin Kolb graciously despite outstanding performances against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. In an opening week 27-20 loss to Green Bay in Philadelphia, Vick threw for 175 yards and ran for 103.

In a 35-32 win against Detroit at Ford Field Sunday, he passed for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He has completed 63.8 % of his passes and posted consecutive games with a passer rating above 100% for the second time in his career.

As it turns out 24 hours later, instead of having to accept his back-up role and wait down the road for the opportunity to start in the NFL with the Eagles or another team, Eagles Coach Andy Reid made a bold decision to name Vick the team's starting quarterback beginning with this week's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in Northern Florida.

Although Eagles Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg failed as head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2001-02 by compiling a 5-27-0 mark for a .156 winning percentage in a pair of seasons, he's done an outstanding job transforming an athletic quarterback into a complete player. Mornhinweg has a great reputation as an excellent offensive mind.

At 30-years old, Vick still has the speed to take a dead play and keep it alive. Against the Lions, he added 37-yards rushing, running for his life most of the afternoon. His passing numbers weren't statistics that Atlanta Falcons fans were accustomed to seeing.

Yet, the 37 rushing yards against Detroit are deceiving because that doesn't count how many yards Vick gained scrambling out of the pocket locating receivers and wearing out defenders. Vick was sacked six times by Detroit and without his mobility who knows how many more sacks the Lions would have amassed.

Thanks to Reid and Mornhinweg, Vick has become a smarter player.

Thanks to prison, Vick has become a humbled man.

He realized that after being in jail on dog fighting charges that he had an excellent career and squandered it. More importantly, he lost his freedom!

But now he has it back and everybody is better for it. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can use Vick as an example that by giving a player a second chance that's paid his debt to society, this can result in numerous positive messages.

Having Tony Dungy as a mentor to Vick was a brilliant move by Goodell.

Do you think No.7 Jerseys are selling in Philadelphia? I'd say so.

After Vick's opening week performance against the Packers, did the local radio sports talk shows seize the opportunity to create buzz, excitement and benefit by booming ratings to create a quarterback controversy? You bet.

I admire Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie and his organization for taking the chance on Vick despite the opposition of animal cruelty groups. Lurie made Vick do lots of Community Service work to bring awareness to Animal Cruelty.

Now Lurie's decision to keep Vick will put money in the owners pocket and fill seats at Lincoln Financial Field.

I wouldn't be surprised if Lurie played a role in having Vick as the new starting quarterback even if Reid looked at the film and knew his best chance to win was with Michael at the helm.

I admire the Philadelphia fans for finally accepting him into the community. We all know that Philadelphia fans can be tough because former QB Donovan McNabb was booed on draft day and heard many more during his long tenure with the Eagles. We're talking about fans that also booed Santa Claus in 1968, but thus far, they've handled the Vick situation fairly well.

But while Vick's story has turned out nicely, will we see similar endings to Baltimore Ravens WR Daunte Stallworth, who was involved in a fatal drinking and driving accident in Miami Beach, Florida as he killed a walking pedestrian?

How about Plaxico Burress, who shot himself outside of a New York night club and is in jail? Since being in jail, Burress has been denied early work release twice, plus the incident has cost him millions of dollars along with a couple of NFL seasons. Giants signal caller Eli Manning enjoyed having Burress as his tall target and could use him now. I hope Burress his paying attention to Vick's revitalized NFL career.

My good friend Jillian Ricard posted on Facebook that "New York Jets WR Braylon Edwards was arrested at 5:15 am for blowing a 0.16-double the legal limit! DWI, another Edwards arrest!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW!"

This is the first time that I heard about the incident.

Yet, what's amazing about the situation is the NFL has a policy that if a player needs a "Free Ride" after he's been drinking, all he has to do is just make a phone call and he'll receive it without having to give an explanation. He bypassed this, but what was worse, he had a pair of teammates in the vehicle with him.

It's a "Player Protect" benefit that the player will be transported home in a luxury vehicle with a police officer that acts as a Chauffeur, who is fully armed and protected for their safety. NFL players have this available to them through the end of the Super Bowl.

My response on Jillian's wall was, "These overpaid clowns never learn! He better start taking the Subways, Find himself a Cab Driver, or a Personal Driver! Otherwise, he'll join Plaxico Burress in the slammer. A Michigan Wolverine and Michigan State Spartan, teammates in the same Jail System. One for the ages."

When Jillian's friend Jeffery A Cross asked me, "What does pay have to do with anything?"

I responded, "Everything. He thinks because he has money that he can buy his way out of trouble by hiring the best lawyers and beat the legal system. What he doesn't realize is no lawyer can appeal Goodell's right to suspend him under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy. Once a player can't play, he loses paychecks, you can only hope that he'll get the message and not embarrass ' The Shield.' Edwards poor track record only makes things tougher to fight his case since he was charged with disorderly conduct in Cleveland. Goodell has a reputation of coming down harder than the authorities. Just ask Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended six games but did get it reduced to four games by complying with Goodell's conditions for straightening out his life. There is no question that Roethlisberger's actions in Georgia, and Lake Tahoe, Nevada factored into his decision. Roethlisberger did get injured in a motorcycle accident and Goodell had to have mentioned this to him when they met." Stallworth was suspended for an entire NFL season!

Ricard reminded all of her friends about the "NFL's Personal Conduct Policy" and was prepared to re-post it on her website

One can only hope that more athletes would turn out to be a "Vick Feel Good Story."

But I highly doubt it will happen because as long as these athletes have money, they'll think they're a step above us all, a step above the law, therefore, the off the field incidents will unfortunately continue.

As Goodell says, don't put yourself in a position of being where you shouldn't be.

Athletes, bars, night clubs, strip clubs and money are a bad combination. They create problems!

It gets very tiring that in a poor economy we have to talk about highly paid athletes constantly getting into trouble. Besides television and radio, the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging on the Internet have created zillions of ways to get news.

The money these athletes squander is more than the average household makes in a year(s) or lifetime.

A lot of these athletes don't manage their money properly. Their earnings power will never be as high in retirement as it is now.

Therefore, don't expect the general pubic to show these athletes any sympathy as foreclosures, bankruptcies, mounting credit problems as a result of continued financial hardships lead to more individuals who voluntarily decide to go to sleep permanently.

So in the end, will these Athletes continue to Swim or Sink?

Now we have zillions of ways to find out to see if there is another Vick story to look forward or another sad commentary in Edwards.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at and his blog can be seen at

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