Berry Tramel, sports writer for the Oklahoman, got it wrong.

May 29, 2009

Recently, Mr. Tramel penned an article entitled “Give Vick another chance.”
I couldn’t disagree more.  The rational offered in the story follows the general theme that private enterprise, in the form of the NFL, shouldn’t do society’s work.”  By that the writer suggest that Vick having served his time in prison,  should not continued to be punished by the NFL saying “thanks, but no thanks.”  It is an interesting point of view and one that will all due respect is in a word – dead wrong. 

Mr. Tramel is apparently from the apologist school of life offering the old “sure he did it, but defense.”  However, this is one of those cases where the crimes were so remarkably cruel, that the gruesome body of evidence so shocking, that it provides a clear window into the mind of the perpetrator.  Remember, not only were dogs forced to fight to the death for Mr. Vick’s sick amusement, but also those that didn’t perform to Mr. Vick’s high expectations of viciousness, were either drown, hung or killed in some other grotesque manner.  And, the simple, undeniable truth is that nature of this monster will not change.  He was sick then, he will be sick in the future.  The only difference is that next time it not be limited to dogs and it is a sure bet that he will be much more careful to hide the crimes.

Still, the underlying Tramel theme maintains as a “professional athlete,” Vck should be excused for his occasional  errors in judgment. 

In the article, Tramel further illuminates our world by explaining that in his opinion “dogfighting is not an unpardonable sin.”  He then goes on to add, “If you don’t want your kids to make Vick a hero, then educate them on the sordid Vick saga.“ My conclusion is that Vick is a heartless, cold-blooded punk who should die pennilies, from a drug overdose in some rancid  flophouse. 

I shouldn’t have to explain anything to my kids because the disturbing Michael Vick story should be over forever. Just because Vick can run fast or throw a football far is no reason for him to return to the pampered life and riches of a professional athlete.  He forfeited that “right” when he checked his compassion in at the dog pit door. I own a company and I wouldn’t hire the guy to take out the trash at minimum wage if he was starving . Oh, but hold on here, Vick is entitled to a second chance because Tramel says he’s a “professional athlete” and the sports lore is filled with bad guys gone good.  Hogwash.

Okay, for the record, let’s take a brief trip down memory land at the squalid moral scorebook of some other high profile professional athletes.

Koby Bryant.  Rape is okay.  Just be able to pay the millions necessary to cover your crime.  Of course, checking the backgrounds of 177 players from the 2001-2002 N.B.A. season reveals 40% of the players had been arrested for crimes ranging from rape to armed robbery to domestic violence.  But that’s OK, they’re professional athletes.

A study in 2003 found 21% of NFL players  have committed major felonies. I guess using Tramel’s “give’em another chance” theory,” O.J. should be free to play golf and slice and dice up some more wives.
But that’s OK, they’re professional athletes.

Check out Mr. Darryl Strawberry, the poster child for major league baseball:

On January 12, 1990, two days after blood tests proved he fathered another woman’s child, Strawberry was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly slapping his wife, Lisa, and threatening her with a pistol. On September 17, 1993, Strawberry was arrested for hitting his girlfriend, Charisse Simon, who was three-months pregnant at the time. Reportedly, witnesses said she had been hitting him with a bat near where he had earlier had surgery. She later refused to press charges. On December 20, 1994, Strawberry and his agent were indicted for failing to report more than $300,000 of income from autograph and memorabilia shows. On April 29, 1995, Strawberry was ordered to repay $450,000 in back taxes and sentenced to six months of home confinement. On April 3, 1999, Strawberry was arrested in Tampa, Florida for soliciting sex from a police woman posing as a prostitute and for having a small amount of cocaine. On April 24, Major League Baseball suspended him for 140 days for the incident. On May 29, he pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 21 months probation and community service. On September 11, 2000, in Tampa, Strawberry tried to drive to see his probation officer after taking painkillers. While driving, he blacked out, rear-ended another car, and then tried to drive away. An off-duty police officer witnessed the episode and arrested him at gunpoint. The next day, Strawberry admitted to the charges and his probation was changed to two years of house arrest. On November 21, he was sentenced to a year of probation and community service. On March 12, 2002, Strawberry was back in jail for violating several non-drug rules at the drug treatment center where he was on probation in Ocala, Florida. On April 29, he was ordered to serve the 22-month suspended prison sentence from 1999. On September 17, 2005, Strawberry reported his sport utility vehicle had been stolen from a Miami, Florida gas station but the station’s surveillance video showed Strawberry leaving as a passenger in another vehicle. A tipster then told police that Strawberry had earlier left his SUV behind a sports bar and given her the keys. He was later charged with filing a false police report. But that’s OK, he’s a professional athlete.

The dirty little secret is that major league sports are breeding grounds for low life’s, thugs  and creeps. Why is it that those who make their living writing glowing tributes to those who run fast, jump high or hit a ball out of the park always seem to encourage us to turn a blind eye to these criminals in jock straps?

Are all pro athletes deranged ego maniacs?  Of course not.  But sadly, for every Wes Welker and Chris Paul, there are dozens of rapist, murderers and wanna-be drug lords (and users)  on the cover of SI or being interviewed by Sports Center. Shockingly, they are often coddled and held up by too many sports reporters as some sort of Greek tragedy heroes.  The truth is that they are anything but heroes.  The leagues, owners and agents that serve as their enablers are as corrupt and bankrupts as the players themselves.   It is a marriage made in heaven among those that are destined to spend time in a noticeably warmer climate.

Give Vick another chance? I would rather give him the finger and boycott any team that foolishly signs him.  The rest of society has to operate within certain rules.  If we violate those rules, we ruin our lives forever. No “king’s ex” no “do over’s.”  We just don’t have a bunch of prima – donna worshipping sports writers waxing on about how someone is the greatest this or the greatest that. 

If a plumber, accoutant or ad guy did what Vick was convicted of, not many employers would line up to hire them.  Still, don’t be surprised when some loser teams needing a jolt of publicity takes the plunge.  My bet is it won’t be long after that, with swollen self-importance and newy swollen bank account, ConVick’s pathetic off-the-field antics will resume. But that’s OK, he’s a professional athlete.

Tramel is a good writer.  He just took a third strike with the bases-loaded in the bottom of the nineth on this one.

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