Younger Vick Is A Dangerous Pick

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - January 18, 2006
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Marcus Vick was an accident waiting to happen. Suspended twice and convicted for reckless driving, marijuana possession and four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, he was ordered to pay a fine, undergo counseling, perform community service and stay away from teenage girls.

Does it take a judge to remind a 21-year-old to stay clear of teenagers? Evidently, because last week the former Virginia Tech quarterback was arrested for pulling a gun on a 17-year-old boy and two of his friends in a McDonald’s parking lot.

He said the boys were harassing him and that he was just trying to scare them. Guns and anger are a recipe for disaster. Someone may have died that night just because someone didn’t like being teased.

A major theme in the film A Bronx Tale is the idea that there is nothing worse than wasted potential. Since his arrival on the Virginia Tech campus, Vick has offered little to indicate he’s not following the film’s script to a sad end. A young man, blessed with talent and pedigree, risking not only his chance at NFL stardom, but possibly his life as well.

After being informed he had been kicked off the team by Virginia Tech president Charles Steger, Vick quickly announced his plans to enter the NFL draft. As if it were no big thing. That his past had been no more than a bump in the road.

Vick needs to wake up.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to see how these college transgressions, to use an overly simplified term, can turn into a lifetime of problems. Before Vick there were Art Schlichter, Lawrence Phillips and Todd Marinovich. Men who had the blessing of the world waiting for them but traded the dream for a life of legal troubles and jail time.

Of these esteemed gentlemen, Vick appears to have most in common with Marinovich, the former USC and Raiders’ quarterback who was unable to handle the pressure of living out his father’s dream of NFL glory. The expectation of others can be a terrible burden to carry.

Marcus Vick should never have attended the same university that his ultrapopular brother put on the map. Though more than capable in his own right, Marcus has never been able to escape the shadow of his older brother. No matter what he did, Marcus was always being compared to Michael. Even at home, public address announcers would at times call him by the wrong name.

Mind you we’re not trying to offer excuses, just reasons why a young man would risk so much so often.

Could entitlement be to blame? Marcus Vick would not be the first athlete to figure that his talent was great enough to overcome any screw-up. He was a celebrity who drove an Escalade around campus as a freshman. Courtesy of his older brother.

A showpiece like that can be a blessing and a curse, especially when the separation between athlete and student becomes greater because of the actions - or inaction - of the school.

Again, this is not an attempt to shift blame away from Vick. But when a “zero-tolerance” rule is violated on Dec. 17 and nothing is done until Jan. 6, conveniently after a Gator Bowl victory, it makes you wonder about the school’s motivation. By not handling the problem when it occurred, Virginia Tech simply continued to give credence to the idea that talent is more important than behavior. That no matter the offense, someone will look the other way so long as you continue to perform.

Quick action by the school may not have prevented the incident in the McDonald’s parking lot, but it would have saved Louisville’s Elvis Dumervil from getting stomped on by Vick while the defensive end was on the ground.

Marcus Vick has problems. Unfortunately, probably not enough to prevent him from being taken on the second day of NFL draft come April. And that’s too bad. The league could make a tremendous statement by passing on Vick thereby sending a message to everyone that talent doesn’t trump behavior. That athletes who wish to ply their trade in the National Football League have to adhere to some type of social standard.

If the NFL would do for bad behavior what it’s done for exposed nipples, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

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