Who would’ve dared to believe that, just three years ago, when Vick filed for U.S. bankruptcy while in prison, broke, destitute and looking for a fresh start, now will be the $100 million dollar man once again?
Who would’ve thought that the Philadelphia Eagles who signed him, when only a few teams showed interest, as a third-string quarterback initially, would be making him not only their starter, but also their leader for the remainder of his playing days because of this 6-year/$100 million-dollar deal?
Well the answer to both questions is simple: Michael Vick did.
Always a man of strong faith and patience, Vick has truly repented and forgiven himself for the transgressions and sins of his past. That was demonstrated by all the steps he took, beginning with filing for U.S. bankruptcy protection while serving his 19-month federal prison bid at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. It continued with employing coaching great Tony Dungy as mentor and spiritual advisor after his release. He maintained it by showing gratitude for receiving a second-chance in the league, albeit as a third-string quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles in July 2009. And after redeeming his value with a career-best season as a quarterback in 2010, the NFL Comeback Player of the Year didn’t find the time to self-aggrandize either.
For all of that, he was rewarded royally. This deal (that of which $40 million of it is guaranteed) will pay Vick an average of $16.7 million per year, which will place as the third-highest salary among all NFL players, not bad for an ex-convict.
Amazingly, this will be the second time Vick receives a $100 million-dollar contract in the NFL. A feat never before achieved. Back in 2004, Vick signed a 10-year/$130 million-dollar bonanza with the Atlanta Falcons. I think of an often quoted verse in the Bible: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” (Job 1:21, NIV). I pray to God that doesn’t happen again either.
Here are two words that nobody likes to hear: death penalty. In sports, as in life, these two words have the profound effect to punish any egregious offender permanently, but the legal entity that is the NCAA does not hold trial, for it serves as its’ own judge and jury. And its’ “death penalty” sanctions, just as those for the criminal justice system, carry possible execution or banishment of a school’s entire sports program, just ask representatives from Southern Methodist University (SMU).
Back in 1987 SMU’s entire football program was shut down for providing gross improper benefits to its’ current players, and especially its recruits, in the attempts to win games the ‘wrong way.’ Actually, SMU’s cheating was just one extension of the American corporate greed that characterized the country during the ‘80s. The very lucrative oil industry of Dallas, Texas served as the breeding grounds for this corruption, as university boosters desired for SMU to compete highly with other in-state rivals Texas, Texas Christian, and Texas A&M universities.
What’s inexplicable is how come University of Miami aka “The U” chose to take part in illegally receiving millions of dollars worth in gifts, cash, and lodging on behalf of its’ star players beginning in 2002, when the program was fresh off a BCS title game victory, and an undisputed national championship?
Simply: “money talks, [b.s.] walks.” That old adage really does pay dividends to the recipient, as in this case, the college jock who wants to capitalize on his skills as an amateur. Only thing is that by doing so, that makes him or her a professional in the truest sense. Then what’s the use for the NCAA providing a scholarship? In other words, no more “free ride.” And that’s why the NCAA has a problem with this, in addition, to the perceived competitive advantage it presents.
But when Hurricane booster Nevin Shapiro stepped on the Coral Gables campus, he brought with him all the trappings that an athlete could ever desire: money, jewelry, cars, clubs, yachts, prostitutes and mansions to live in, no matter the fact that alleged millions he spent was through ill-gotten gain. It was from a 930 million-dollar Ponzi scheme. Wow! Talk about “living the high-life!” All that took place under the backdrop of South Beach, a player’s paradise.
That list of notable Hurricane-player alumni includes Devin Hester, Sean Taylor (now deceased), Willis McGahee, Andre Johnson, Kellen Winslow Jr., Jon Beason, Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle, and even 12 current players like starting QB Jacory Harris.
Shapiro even signed two very notable first-round draftees, Jon Beason and Vince Wilfork, to his own sports agency Axcess Sports Entertainment, which made it a complete money-funneling system.
And even worst, it has been confirmed that at least seven coaches took part in the scandal which spread through both the football and basketball programs.
But the problem is not Miami’s alone.
Take into consideration this fact that in the last 18 months there have been at least nine university football programs that have been either investigated or sanctioned. And the list is a “who’s who?” which includes Auburn, Michigan, LSU, Ohio State, USC, North Carolina, Oregon, Georgia Tech, and now Miami.
There’s another old adage that goes: “you are only sorry once you get caught.” And in the case of those notable football programs, getting “caught with the hands in the cookie jar,” resulted in even having a national championship vacated (as was the case of USC) in the Reggie Bush scandal. As well, it’s worthwhile to mention that Shapiro’s “cookie crumbled,” as he has been serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison.
Let’s face it. As much as the NCAA has been officially taking the role as enforcer, it does not have enough “eyes” and “ears” to catch every impropriety. Many within athletic departments across the country think there needs to be greater resources availed to university compliance departments. And that the rule-book is arcane too.
So as college football headlines continue to become more and more outlandish, remember that there are so many more Nevin Shapiro-types who are still lurking college campuses, and will continue to doing so until there is effective reform to NCAA student-athlete regulations. Many feel Miami will receive the “death penalty.” I just hope they get life without all the luxuries.
Let the Games Begin: ‘Dream Team’ Makes Philadelphia Eagles Winners of Free Agency by Timothy Watson III-August 4, 2011
The fans waited four-and-a-half-months for a season to happen, then the free-agency period began and within just four days all the biggest names or first-tier talent was gone. All those players capitalized big on the urgency and high demand for them. Some went to teams in rebuilding programs. Others went to championship contenders. Well the Philadelphia Eagles spent their available free money and signed the biggest names and in the process had put together a “Dream Team,” as Vince Young remarked.
A Beatles classic implied that money can’t buy one true love, but in the world of sports mucho dinero will definitely attract talented players. And as of Wednesday night, eight notable players had been signed as free agents to play with quarterback Michael Vick in the City of Brotherly Love.
Those free agents include defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, offensive tackle Ryan Harris, running back Ronnie Brown, quarterback Vince Young, and safety Jarrad Page. But at the top of that list is the big fish the Eagles caught in four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
Big-time moves made the Eagles the winners of the free-agency sweepstakes as well as the envy of the entire league.
Everybody from players to even coaches had been giving their “two-cents” worth. Former Eagles great, quarterback, Donovan McNabb added: “They have more problems than people are looking at.”
No. 5 just might have had a good point there. After all, the most important intangible to team winning is chemistry. Championships are not won overnight. And I’m sure Philly took a lesson from that certain NBA team in South Beach. Football is the ultimate team sport. Every position requires productivity. It takes 11 players to line-up. And every last one of them has to be in sync. Unlike basketball, it’s hard to cover up your teammates’ mistakes out there on the grid iron. You will get exposed. But, if individual egos can get along and each player works hard in practice too, there’s no way this collection of super talent could not be cohesive as a unit.
But would that translate into a lot of wins (10 or more) or a deep advance into the playoffs? No. Just ask the New Orleans Saints, then the defending Super Bowl champions, who had the NFC’s (National Football Conference) third-highest amount of yardage in total offense, but could not “stop a nose bleed,” in the immortal words of Jets linebacker Bart Scott, let alone play defense, and made a first round exit in the Wildcard round last season disappointedly.
The good thing for the Eagles is that most of those star players are on the defensive side of the ball which actually bodes well for them. That is because instinct rather than playbook-memory is depended upon heavily for defenders. And like it was stated earlier, if those veteran players work hard in practice together, little chemistry things like player-communication will develop naturally.
Ironically enough, despite those big-time acquisitions, primarily on defense, it is the offense that has remained uncertain. Michael Vick is firmly entrenched as the quarterback, but he has been missing his star wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has held out for a new contract. In addition to that, that offensive line has holes that need to be filled immediately. Now that Vick has begun to establish himself as a pocket passer, he needs to stay upright during games. We all know the physical beating he took last year.
So even with the landing of those prized free agents, there is still more work to be done for the Eagles. But with proper chemistry and the right personnel, the city of Philadelphia should be flying high perhaps to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI even.
I never knew there were Black people from West Virginia before I saw Randy Moss. And by golly, that country bumpkin made good, really good. Hands down the best college player of the 1998 season, but a checkered past during his amateur career which included two arrests, prison time and a failed drug test leading into that year’s draft, made teams skip over the highly talented receiver until the Minnesota Vikings selected him.
The best wide receiver of my generation (as both Moss and I are 34-years-old), abruptly retired. The Freak called it quits. Moss gained the appropriate moniker because his physical abilities were different from any other’s we had ever seen in the NFL then and now. He had great length, excellent strength, and superior speed but also could leap like a basketball player while wearing a football helmet. The best deep-threat receiver of all-time, Moss occupied the minds of defensive backs all-game-long because they readily knew that at any given moment he was capable of getting behind them for a 50-yard touchdown grab. That was best evidenced back in 2007 on the game winning strike against the New York Giants which secured the NFL’s first 16-0 regular season for Moss’ New England Patriots. It was a climatic conclusion to a record-breaking 23-touchdown campaign. He stood ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest.
But along with the ‘good’ there is also the ‘bad’ Randy Moss. Who could forget the mooning gesture Moss mockingly made to the fans at Lambeau Field after a game finishing 34-yard touchdown grab and run through the end zone in the elimination of the hated rival Packers from the 2004 NFC Wildcard Game. Despite leading Minnesota into victory at Green Bay in their first ever playoff encounter, Moss’ actions stirred so much controversy that he was traded during that off-season to Oakland. What a way to go out!
As big of a move that was, unfortunately, it was only the first in a string of trades that sent Moss to different teams for the same reason: his malcontentedness.
Besides time spent in New England, Oakland, and Tennessee, he even reunited with the franchise that drafted him in Minnesota last season. But that only lasted three games until he was cut later after paying reverence to his previous former team, New England, just right after losing to them during the post-game press conference.
But in the words of Randy Moss “I’m a say what I want to say.”
It was a comment just like that which made Randy Moss such a character in a polarizing way. We can never say that Moss was compliant. He challenged the status quo and even broke the rules some times. That is what made him so endearing to me and other true NFL fans alike.
Although his play was swallowed up in The Black Hole of Oakland and was Titan-less in Tennessee to end his career, he still is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
His career totals as a wide receiver: 954 receptions for 14,858 yards and 153 touchdowns. Let me also add that he even threw two touchdowns too. He ranks in a 2nd place tie with Terrell Owens for touchdowns, 5th place in career receiving yards. In the pantheon of NFL’s greatest-ever-wide-receiver class, only Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison had better overall careers, arguably.
But none of them possessed both the distinctive style and sheer athleticism of the great Randy Moss. Unlike his aforementioned counterparts, he never hoisted the Lombardi trophy. But it didn’t matter because Moss was a winner still worthwhile to be celebrated and commemorated highly.
On behalf of all the fans of yours, I’d like to say: Thank you Mr. Moss. You made good, really good!