Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Obama Embraces Vick


On July 20, 2009 Michael Vick is released from federal custody after serving time running a dogfighting ring and seven days later is conditionally reinstated to the National Football League by Commissioner Roger Goodell. The following month he signs with the Philadelphia Eagles a conditional contract which allows him to file for full reinstatement in mid-season. On September 3 Goodell sends down from his mountaintop permission for full reinstatement and Vick plays a full season, albeit with limited playing time, with the Eagles.

In September, 2010, following injury to the Eagles starting quarterback (who had performed poorly) and an effective job by Vick, the latter becomes the team’s starting quarterback. (See the timeline here.)

On December 19, the Eagles defeated their primary rival, the New York Giants, in a remarkable game notable in part for an extraordinary fourth quarter performance by Vick. The Eagles stood at 10-4 behind a quarterback who now is widely acknowledged as the second leading candidate for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. One week later, they clinched a divisional championship as the Giants went down to defeat in Green Bay.

The following day- twelve months after Michael Vick is released from prison; nineteen months after Vick is signed by a professional football team on a conditional basis; eighteen months after Vick is fully reinstated to the NFL; three months after Vick is made starting quarterback, after which he proceeds to enjoy a fabulous season; and eight days after Michael Vick leads his team to one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history- we read

NBC's Peter King reports that Barack Obama called Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie earlier this week to congratulate him for giving Vick a second chance after his release from prison. According to King, the president said that released prisoners rarely receive a level playing field and that Vick's story could begin to change that.

To quote the great journalist Dan Rather, though in a different context: COURAGE. After all this, as Michael Vick sits practically atop the world of professional sports, Barack Obama musters the courage to tell the Eagles owner: well done. It was a heck of a job by President Obama, who carefully read the tea leaves and waitied till Michael Vick, through hard work, great ability, and scrupulous coaching, become one of the most popular athletes in the nation,

Moreover, as Morris W. O’Kelly commented

President Obama's phone call (and subsequent spotlight) would have been better served highlighting individuals and entities truly about the business of helping everyday African-American men reintegrate themselves into society after prison; not offering more inappropriate idolatry of athletes.

Fat chance of that happening. “Everyday African-American men” are neither celebrities, nor wealthy. They are not the privileged who get huge tax breaks from this president nor the likes of Obama favorite Ludacris. And I think we all know where that places most blacks, as well as most whites, on President Obama’s priority list.

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