The Michael Vick Mishegas

My time in chess tournaments and in the rag trade exposed me to rudimentary Yiddish, and one of my favorite words is mishegas, or “craziness”. Maybe it is the way you can get your teeth into it, maybe the word is real close to the word “mess”, for some reason it comes to mind when a situation goes crazy to convoluted to unbelievable to ridiculous.

So much has been written about the situation that it seems unnecessary to recount the basic facts. However, there are a few things I just have to touch on.

1. Who in the world endangers hundreds of millions of dollars in salary, bonuses, endorsements-not just in the present, but in the future-to engage in felonious behavior? My goodness, how much money does Michael Vick stand to lose? Probably more than I will make in this or in several lifetimes. Yet he went blithely about his business, choosing to engage in a violent and illegal activity, certain he was bulletproof. Well, as my sister in law is fond of saying, “not so much”.

1a. I guess it is the same type of person who labels his conduct a “mistake”:

“I’m totally responsible, and those things just didn’t have to happen,” said Vick…“I feel like we all make mistakes. It’s just I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions.

Ri-iiight. A mistake is not paying a bill on time, or causing an accident through a one time action like not paying attention. A mistake is not something that carries on year after year. Bad judgement? Absolutely. But to call it a mistake is not owning up to what happened, and suggests his only real regret is that he was busted.

2. When will we reach the time when an African-American celebrity breaks the law–and since he has plead guilty, it is fair to say Vick is guilty of breaking the law–and they are not greeted with civil rights era demonstrations? As Vick plead guilty, groups of supporters stood outside the courthouse singing “We Shall Overcome”. As Michael Wilbon writes:

This went down in the former capital of the Confederacy, people singing abolitionist songs in support of a 27-year-old black man who of his own free will made outrageously stupid decisions despite advice to the contrary. Talk about a historical twist.

When I was a child that song was sung as a battle cry for civil rights…as an adult it has been sung in support of Jesse Jackson for his “Hymietown” comment, or when his second family was discovered…when Al Sharpton took up the cudgels for the lies of Tawanna Brawley, and now for a supremely spoiled athlete. A song that represented bravery and struggle and courage now becomes a punchline and a rationalization.

3. How long will the “new” NFL stay on the line? For all the horror we express about Vick and his involvement in dogfighting, I have a hunch the real NFL concern is that he was involved in gambling. In fact, I imagine that if Vick’s involvement was limited to say renting the facility to others operating a dogfighting operation, and knowing what it was used for, then the NFL indignation would be more muted. A cynical thing to say? How else do we account for wife beaters and drug users and felons making the Football Hall of Fame, accompanied by a corporal guard of sportwriters chanting “doesn’t count, didn’t happen on the field”? Why does the NFL go hog wild over cruelty to animals while turning a blind eye to countless incidents of player on human violence over the years? Again going to Wilbon:

The volume of the debate wouldn’t bother me much if there was as much outrage over other celebrity misbehavior. I’m sorry, but I don’t recall the anywhere near this much outrage when Lawrence Phillips was dragging a woman by the hair down the steps while at Nebraska. I love dogs — and grew up with one wonderful German Shepherd from 4 to 18. But I wouldn’t value his life above that of a human being.

Oh, he’s just getting started…

Drunk driving? No problem, put the guy back on the field. Wouldn’t want him to miss a snap or be a distraction. Batter a woman? No problem, trot him right back out there. Please don’t tell me battering a dog, sick as that is, is worthy of more outrage than battering a spouse or girlfriend, which we seem to dismiss now with frightening casualness.

The Michael Vick situation can only be called a mishegas. What else can you call it when an ethnic/racial group assumes anyone of their group is being mistreated no matter how outrageous the behavior PLUS a major corporation reacting with all its vigor after turning a blind eye to terrible conduct for so long PLUS a gifted athlete who tries to excuse a long running crimial practice as a “mistake”?

Other words do apply…

Bizarre…
Inconceivable…
Ridiculous…
Amazing…

But for now, mishegas will have to do.

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9 thoughts on “The Michael Vick Mishegas

  1. Bwana:
    Are you sure we are not related other than we know each other from having similiar interest in our youth..You are right on target with this one. I am disgusted by the behavior of many of the sport figures players for their off the field antics and basically get away with it…You have a former NFL Great that killed his wife and her friend and never was convicted for it. You have a former player that was caught trying to sell illegal narcotics and all he got at the time was a hand slap and he was just inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame over someone who still lives his life in an exemplary manner and whose example we should all follow. I still support my favorite teams, but I am sorry the line has to stop somewhere and the current NFL Executive is trying to draw that line with the NFL Conduct policy. He needs the true support of the everyone, owners, coaches, players and fans if he is to succeed.

    Bwana Fan In Vienna

  2. Pingback: University Update - Michael Vick - The Michael Vick Mishegas

  3. Who in the world endangers hundreds of millions of dollars in salary, bonuses, endorsements-not just in the present, but in the future-to engage in felonious behavior? My goodness, how much money does Michael Vick stand to lose?

    Why do you give a fuck about some football player being involved in dogfighting? If Vick had been some Joe Schmoe off the streets, you wouldn’t be posting this lame-ass, self-righteous article.

  4. Wow, I see the articulate Vick supporters are out in force! I guess the dogfights must be closed tonight.

  5. First of all, I feel sorry for Michael. Before you get upset, he was wrong. He was very very wrong, but not to the point where his whole life should be ruined. His NFL career is over, and now they want to place him in jail for 5 years or so. That is extreme, and over a dog? Yes, what he did to those dogs is horrible. But think about it, we kill how many babies a year in abortion? We killed how many people in the aftermath of Katrina? We killed how many people in Iraq? What do we have to say about that? It is excusable of course, because we make it excusable. We kill thousand of Americans, born and unborn a day, and we still have our careers, our freedom, and our life. America is a hypocrite.

    Also, dog fighting was a misdemeanor up until 3 month before Vick was busted. Don’t you think the government was investigating him at the time they decided to up the crime to a felony? Does this not seem like a trap? He is one of the four only black quarterbacks in the NFL. Don’t you think good ol’ America, the same America that killed thousands of blacks from New Orleans and the same America that has six boys locked up in a Louisiana jail facing 15+ years in prison for a school fight involving a white student (Jena Six), the same America whose prison population is about 80% black, knew this when they decided to arrest him, and ruin his career and place him in prison…in good ol’ Georgia!

    How many white NFL players get into trouble, but it is brushed off, and played down? This isn’t only a case of the dogs; this is a case of good ol’ America getting rid of someone that frankly they didn’t want there anyway! They won fair and square though. They sat and they waited and they watched, and then they finally got what they wanted, the little black quarterback boy out!

    Again, he was wrong, he should be punished. But the punishment is way too harsh for the crime, and we know it. If we took the case out of the media, and let the courts handle it, then it would have never blown up to be this big, or harsh.

  6. Interesting observations, but given the kid glove treatment for folks like Warren Moon and Michael Irvin I think it is fair to say that NFL players of all colors, sizes, and positions have had trouble brushed off and played down.

    Since we don’t know yet what the punishment will be, we don’t know yet how harsh it is. However, I imagine if Vick had not come out of the blocks lying to everyone things would not have “blown up to be this big, or harsh.”

    Also, as a member of the grammar police, I should point out that “America is a hypocrite” is grammatically inaccurate. Americans can be hypocrites, but not a country.

  7. Bwana:
    I was wondering how long it would be before the “Lets-All-Forgive-Michael-and-have-a-group-hug-and-sing-Kumbeya!” folks started to come out of the wood work. Pardon me , while I wretch and choose not to join in.
    Dog-fighting should have always been a felony and ANYONE who participates should be punished to the full extent of the law.
    Unfortunately, Bwana is right that if Vick had not lied to begin with I do not beleive things would have blown up to the level they have.

    Bwana fan In Vienna

  8. “First of all, I feel sorry for Michael. Before you get upset, he was wrong. He was very very wrong, but not to the point where his whole life should be ruined. His NFL career is over, and now they want to place him in jail for 5 years or so. That is extreme, and over a dog? Yes, what he did to those dogs is horrible. But think about it, we kill how many babies a year in abortion? We killed how many people in the aftermath of Katrina? We killed how many people in Iraq? What do we have to say about that? It is excusable of course, because we make it excusable. We kill thousand of Americans, born and unborn a day, and we still have our careers, our freedom, and our life. America is a hypocrite.”

    Groan. First we have black and white civil rights activists playing the old race card and singing “we shall overcome” to show their support for a man guilty of wanton cruelty and torture to animals, for profit.
    Now we have people playing the old “what about abortion/Iraq/Katrina” line, as if that somehow constitutes a case for him not to face the appropriate criminal sentence under the law. And as if it somehow constitutes a sensible reason for breastbeating about how dreadfully hypocritical America supposedly is for punishing Michael Vick.

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