Congratulations, Media Blowhards. You win. Your self-serving war against nuance is over. You and your simplistic, black-or-white, red vs. blue, calculated-for-ratings "takes" are the victors. You are hereby the 2010 Citizens of the Year up on Mt. Pious.
The decisive blow was struck this week by bow-tied blowhard Tucker Carlson, who shared his opinion that Michael Vick, "Should've been executed." Since then, Carlson's been taking the predictable beating for the absurdity of his comment.
Don't think for a second, though, that Tucker regrets what he said. Matter of fact, this reaction is precisely what he sought when he sold out his self-proclaimed Christian values in exchange for some attention. Kudos, Tucker, you're a "trending topic" on Twitter today! After all, in the competitive career of public opining, truth and fact take a backseat to the reaction one's comments elicit. I can only assume Colin Cowherd is hard at work in his lab right now, cooking up his next bit of not-so-subtly-racially-tinged hyperbole to bring the cyber-spotlight back onto him.
If you've read my column or watched 'The Shame Report' this season, you might consider me a world-class hypocrite. After all, I've made some loony remarks. There are a couple of important differences, though. First, I think it's fairly obvious that I'm just being a wiseacre. Secondly, I'm not suggesting anyone should be killed.
So are we supposed to take Tucker seriously? Are we to believe he actually thinks Mike Vick should've been killed by our government? Of course not. Carlson is just trying to breathe some life into a career that suffered a near-mortal wound at the hands of Jon Stewart a few years ago. It's not what he actually believes that concerns him; it's what he thinks will get attention from others.
So, good for him, he's successful on that count. And I know people will say that writing about it only gives him more of what he wants. The enduring problem, however, is that he, Cowherd, and too many other commentators are all playing this soulless game, edging out anyone with a more subtle, complex (and perhaps even sincere) opinion, which in turn creates the perception among too much of the public that there are only two, extreme sides to any story.
After denouncing Carlson on Twitter, I was attacked by dog lovers/Vick haters.
»"It's sad how the media members like you have idolized Vick."
»"Vick is a world-class jerk… yes, he's a great football player, but just leave it at that."
»"I bet your family is proud -- 'My daddy loves dog killers.'"
»"Guess if you can throw a football, it's cool to kill animals."
Huh? So because I disagree with the suggestion that capital punishment be extended to crimes beyond murder of other human beings, I idolize Vick? First of all, I'm a Steelers fan, so shame the devil at the suggestion I'd support any Philadelphia Eagle. Except former Pitt running back Shady McCoy… maybe.
The truth is, I'm not sure what to make of this reincarnated "Good Guy" version of Mike Vick. I don't know if he's actually been scared straight, or if he's just got cagey handlers who've schooled him on how to behave. Same goes for Ben Roethlisberger, by the way. I'm not naïve enough to just assume these two fellas are fine upstanding gentlemen just because they go on TV and say they are. Let's also keep in mind that their families, teams, agents, hangers-on and, yes, the NFL are all invested in seeing these guys make a positive turnaround. Maybe both Number Sevens are just putting on an act. Maybe seven weeks or seven years from now, one or both will do something naughty that validates the suspicions of their critics.
Then again, I'm also not so cynical that I think anyone who's ever committed a crime should be stripped of their right to try and reform their lives. Maybe Vick's genuinely learned a lesson. Remember, he spent 18 months in jail. As in behind bars. Up the river. In the clink. Real jail. I've never been, but I've seen enough movies to know it wouldn't be fun.
Bottom line is, it's still too early to render a final assessment. For now, I'm somewhere in the middle, even if that means the column I just wrote won't result in my name being a trending topic tomorrow. Dang. I guess that means my effort here was -- in Tuckerspeak -- poorly executed.
On a loosely related topic, Vick is a pretty good bet to win the Comeback Player of the Year award. I'm sure Roethlisberger will be up there in the voting, too. But in most any other year, you'd have to put Broncos WR Brandon Lloyd and Seahawks WR Mike Williams at one and two. Where did these guys come (back) from?
Lloyd caught an average 15 balls a season over the last four years, including two last year. This season, he's leading the NFL in yardage. No, seriously, how did that happen? And Williams, well, he was an unemployed fat guy just last year. Now he's (possibly playoff-bound) Seattle's leading receiver. Alright, his numbers aren't as remarkable as Lloyd's, but keep in mind he's had Chaz Whitehurst slingin' it to him at times this season.
The bigger question is, are these guys a portent of things to come? Should NFL personnel guys and fantasy owners be inquiring about the availability of Charles Rogers for next year? Are Limas Sweed and Lam Jones conducting secret workouts somewhere in Texas? Is 2011 the year Renaldo Nehemiah finally turns his speed into NFL success? Just to be safe, this morning I picked up Mike Sherrard in my keeper league.
In attempt to ignite greater interest in another honor Mike Vick may win this year, the Most Valuable Player Award, I renamed it the Weegie Sistrunk Trophy (Long story. I encourage you to read it here: The MVP deserves an MVT. I suggested that Troy Polamalu should win it, based on the difference in the Steelers' defense with and without him. I do, however, wish now to amend my pick.
I'm going with the real reason the Patriots have been this season's best team: Their offensive line. Yeah, Tom Brady's terrific, and I guess I have to concede Bill Belichick knows what he's doing, but that o-line is the linchpin week in and week out. Like Peyton Manning found out earlier this season when his line was struggling, the lack of time in the pocket can make any QB look pedestrian (or in his case, downright putrid). As for Brady, the last time he got so much as grazed by a puss rusher, Mike Vick was still a backup. Thanks to the five guys in front of him, Tom's just as pretty after each game as he is before, except when his luxurious locks get tousled ever so slightly by his snow beanie. And how else do you explain BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead doing what they're doing?
Now the only question is, how are we gonna cut the Weegie Sistrunk Trophy into five pieces?
Quick prediction for the post-season -- and you should listen, seeing as how I picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West. Back in early September, I predicted a Ravens/FalconsSuper Bowl. I wish now to amend the NFC portion of that pick to… the Green Bay Packers. They've quietly got the best defense in the conference, are starting to run the ball effectively, and Aaron Rodgers is ready to have the January he needs to vault himself into the top tier of QBs.
'Til then, try not execute anyone or anything… and have a Happy New Year.