The National Football League team Carolina Panthers have gotten off to a dismal 0-3 start this year, in large measure due to significant deficiencies in a key player position, quarterback. Earlier in the year, it jettisoned the seasoned veteran QB starter of previous seasons Jake Delhomme, where an injury currently prevents him from competing. Matt Moore was anointed as starter at quarterback at the beginning of the season. Stepping in as a backup during last season, Moore showed flashes of competence, and at times even played extremely well. The franchise decision makers settled on Jimmy Clausen, a rookie fresh from Notre Dame University as Moore’s backup. After the first two games ended in the L column, Moore was pulled and his backup Clausen was given the starting nod for game number three. Unfortunately, the outcome was no different than before.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Eagles are riding a 2-1 record, in large measure due to the arm and legs of its QB Michael Vick. After a forced 18 month hiatus, imposed by the justice system because of his role in a dog-fighting enterprise, Michael Vick was slated as a backup quarterback to the less experienced starter Kevin Kolb (only two previous pro starts). When Kolb was knocked out of the game in the second quarter, Vick nearly brought the Eagles a come from behind victory. Vick’s play in the second game of the season (while Kolb sat out due to a concussion), not only garnered a victory for the Eagles, but earned him the starting position. In game three, the Eagles handily prevailed with Vick posting a three touchdown passing game.
What makes Michael Vick so valuable is his ability to escape from the pocket and eat up big chunks of yardage. This particular talent opens up passing opportunities which would not be available to pure pocket passers and QBs slow of foot. Vick is also gifted with a powerful and accurate throwing arm. However one of his greatest assets might just be his many years of league experience in which he as faced many defenses, game situations, and pressures.
Now, I do not profess to be a sports fanatic, or even an aficionado. So, how, you may wonder, does this discussion relate to the usual topics of discussion on this blog? Simple. It explains how going along with public opinion does not always result in a positive outcome. In this case specifically, Michael Vick could easily have been on the Carolina Panther roster. He could have been designated as the starter which he deserved to be, or brought in off the bench to dig the Panthers out of a hole in trying to secure a come from behind victory. And after his release from prison, Vick was available to any NFL team for a song. But they all passed on him… even the Oakland Raiders. Teams that desperately were in need of a quarterback, did not even give Vick an opportunity. None, that is, except the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s face it, Vick is no slouch at the position, and is, in fact, a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame in Canton.
Why did Carolina, Oakland, and other teams in dire need of talent in the most important position in the game, willing to overlook Michael Vick? It was certainly not because he lacked talent. There was a generalized view that because of his dog-fighting past Vick was a pariah intended to be ostracized. Owners of football teams were wary of P.E.T.A. and the public outcry against Vick’s past involvement with the promotion and involvement in dog-fighting, and they silently decided amongst themselves to basically blacklist Vick from the game and to penalize him by preventing him from making a living by playing the game he loved. Everyone, including the Carolina Panthers, was on board… except for the Philadelphia Eagles. Now the bigwigs and owners of the Carolina Panthers are probably kicking themselves in the rear end for letting the golden opportunity of having a talented, quality, exciting quarterback like Michael Vick end up with the Eagles when it was well within their grasp. And if they are not kicking themselves, they should be as they languish in their division’s cellar.
Believe it or not, I do like dogs… although I am more of a cat person. Also, I detest dog-fighting for sport… and other sports which pit animals against one another in brutal battles to the death. I also believe that Michael Vick’s punishment was excessive because of his celebrity, however, to his credit, he handled it with much dignity. He served the time for the crime with which he was convicted, and he should have been free to pursue his career without the animosity and hostility to which he was subjected. And, yes, the Carolina Panthers, with its quarterback uncertainties, should have leapt at the chance to acquire him when he first hit the market. But bowing to media and public opinion and sentiment, Carolina decided to go along with the other teams and freeze Vick out of the league… which was where his career was headed when Vick finally received a chance with the Eagles.
Had Carolina Panther owners had the courage to do the right thing and bring Vick on board early on, it would have been to their benefit. Instead, they folded to pressures of public opinion and passed on him, despite knowledge that he could have undoubtedly been a great addition to the team. Now the Panthers are hurting at the quarterback position and they have no one to blame but themselves. Other teams, like the Oakland Raiders, are in the same boat. But going along with public opinion is safe, and does not require courage.
That is why the vast majority of individuals, who have been spoon-fed gobs of Carpetbagger Jihad anti-Nifong propaganda succumb to the Jedi mind-tricks of the media and espouse vitriolic sentiment against former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. They feel the security in being among the vast majority of people in their beliefs. Plus, it requires no courage to side with the majority and those perceived to be in power.
Members of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong are vastly outnumbered in their support of justice for Mike Nifong… and to acknowledge their position which is markedly in the minority, takes a tremendous amount of courage. And courage has been tested, as I was nearly arrested on the Duke University campus earlier this year solely because of my support for Mike Nifong. And no one represents courage like Mike Nifong, who weathered the public sentiment whipped up against him by the biased media storm, as he carried forth with his prosecution in the Duke Lacrosse case. (The North Carolina State Bar had to intervene with its trumped up ethics charges in order to get Nifong off the case, the first step in getting charges dropped against the three Duke lacrosse lads from families of wealth, status, and privilege.)
Mike Nifong mustered up the courage to go against prevailing wishes of the state and media-generated sentiment of the public when he pursued the charges against the Duke Lacrosse defendants. Members of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong mustered up courage to support justice for Mike Nifong against overwhelming anti-Nifong public opinion. Taking an unpopular stand did not, and probably will not, accrue to the benefit of Mr. Nifong or his supporters in the near term. However, the same cannot be said for the Carolina Panthers. Had the Panther owners shown some guts to go against the flow of the opinions held by the public and NFL, they would undoubtedly have a better record and be in contention for making the playoffs.
In life, people are often presented with opportunities to go with the flow or swim upstream against the tide. Which direction you go is not the issue of importance. Choosing to take the right path, even when it is in the face of a hurricane, is the right thing to do. Just keep in mind that the greater the headwinds, the more courage will be required.