The Mannings versus The Vicks

January17/ 2000

… Somebody might as well say it.  Whenever a college student-athlete “from an urban street culture” gets into some sort of “mess” all the Johnny Cochrane wannabees jump up on their soapboxes.  Yes, there is a BIG difference between “The Vick Boys” and “The Manning Boys”.  Let’s look at the contrast and where the “slack cutting” starts to wear thin.

    Upfront … I confess I do not know the specifics of the Vick brothers upbringing.  I do not know the circumstances of their childhood.  I am pretty sure it was different from that experienced by two other award-winning quarterback brothers – Peyton and Eli Manning.

   The following comments are assuming that (1) “The Vick Brothers” were raised in a one-parent household with limited financial resources.  (2) They exhibited exceptional athletic skills early on and found satisfaction and positive recognition through sports.  (3) Somehow they got with a series of youth league and high school coaches that optimized their athletic skills and (4) through sports they escaped the dire consequences of an “urban street life” and received college athletic scholarships to Virginia Tech, opening up unlimited opportunities for each of them.  Michael appears to be optimizing his thus far … Marcus has apparently hit at least a temporary snag in his.

Marcus Jumps The Shark!

YIKES … Marcus Vick arrested Monday afternoon for “brandishing a firearm” at a Suffolk VA McDonald’s.  

MV1 and his posse not too good as chaperones.  

Time to call in the adults.

   Marcus’ mamma says “he’s a good boy and undeserving of the negative image”.  That officially enrolls her in The Death Row Mammas Club along with Mamma Ted Bundy, Mamma Jeffrey Dalmer, and Mamma Stanley “Tookie” Williams.  Mamma T.O. and Mamma Randy Moss are members too.  If Mamma Swagger was still around, I assume she would valiantly defend me regardless of the circumstances.  It’s a mamma thing.

   Peyton and Eli (and a 3rd brother equally as gifted but felled athletically by a childhood injury) have always been “Archie Manning’s sons”.  Although paltry by today’s standards, Archie “did very well” during a 14-year pro career affording his family a very comfortable life in a upscale New Orleans suburb. Had Peyton and Eli not inherited Archie’s athleticism and his love of football, they would still have “gone to college” and likely been assimilated into a success track in “the business world”.  Archie was “a Chip Hilton – All American boy” growing up and both his sons were equally “Wheaties box top” material thru high school, college, and now as starting (and successful) QBs at the very highest level of Football.

  Go back 25 years, which set of brothers were the best bets to be where they are today?  At the highest levels of division 1-A and certainly in the National Football League “who your daddy is” gives way to “can you lead us to wins”.  All four of these young men have demonstrated the ability to do that “on the Big Stage”.  OK, Eli stunk it up vs the Panthers but Eli is doing fine for a 2nd year NFL QB.

   Would sports be “better” if it were restricted to “the Mannings types” and excluded “the Vick types”?  YIKES! The frightening answer to that question is that there are still some among us who would grunt a “hell yes“.  That faction probably won’t like the new movie – The Glory Road, about Texas Western’s 1966 basketball team. 

   If “The Vicks are hoodlum thugs” and “The Mannings are pampered pansies” … then the whole sports hero spectrum is pretty much shot to hell!

Let’s dispel a popular myth – “Frank Beamer runs a hoodlum program at Virginia Tech” – an ABSURD conclusion that belongs exactly where it festers – in the fetid sewers of Internet message boards.  While it is easy to trumpet “problems” within the VT football program over the past 10-12 years, “hoodlum program” implies that Beamer fosters an especially pervasive “thuggish” attitude among his players … compared to who … Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio State, LSU, Princeton, CalTech, et al.  Texas had a “criminal investigation” of several of its players last month.  Even Penn State with Saint JoePa had a “hushed-up and covered-up” nasty situation not unlike VT several years ago.  Both Carolina and NCSU continue to have “aw sh*t” incidents with its “student-athletes” and have had over the years.  Even Wake Forest seems to regularly “suspend XYZ players” for unspecified violations of team policies. 

    But but but BobLee … “John Bunting deals quickly and harshly with his miscreants besides “smoking marijuana” is not the same as “stomping Elvis” or driving w/ a suspended license!!” Yes, he certainly does and I for one hope he continues to do so.  I have no factual evidence that Chuck Amato is any less strict.  Neither John Bunting nor Chuck Amato have fielded teams that have had the consistent on-field success of Frank Beamer, Bobby Bowden, or Larry Coker.  Until they do, the question is unanswered  “can you win consistently in Big Time football with choir boys and boy scouts”. assuming your players actually ARE choir boys and boy scounts.

   What about Notre Dame or Southern Cal?  I don’t know since we aren’t privy to the daily/hourly minute scrutiny of those programs that we are of area ACC programs.  Ask a UCLA loon or a Michigan loon.

In one of my “other lives” I was “warden” of an athletic dorm at a Big Time college.  Even back then it was pretty easy to identify the “ticking time bombs” and “wild childs”.  Sometimes “being away from home” turned a quiet kid into a hellraiser and some hellraisers “settled down” over four years; but early impressions were amazingly accurate.  Veteran recruiters are REALLY good at reading kids.  I’d love to see some recruiting notes … “excellent speed, great hands, strong as a bull BUT will likely be in prison before he’s 25″.  The head coach decides how many “yes, BUTs” he wants to take.

I’m not going into the Marcus & Lolitas Affair. That has been prevalent around college jocks since the leather helmet days.  Girls of ALL ages, including the occasional “desperate alumni housewife”, make themselves available to celebrity jocks.  Nothing new about that. Even IF Big Brother Michael “paid off” the families of the Lolitas that would hardly be a first for that creative solution.

 Every school’s lunatic fringe has it’s immediate “go to” excuse whenever it loses.  For NC State it is ALWAYS “crooked refs” with “biased media” as the back-up.  For Carolina it’s ALWAYS “their coach cheats”.  “Crooked refs” goes with “cheating AND CUSSING coach” when the winning opponent is Duke.  Whatever floats your boat.  Dillusional Democrats are still counting chads in Broward County.

Big Time college football is a gigantic compost heap of steaming hypocrisy.  Sure, I enjoyed the heck out of those bowl games and every reader here knows my love for “the color and pagentry”.  But I’m no more naïve about what I’m seeing than thinking the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are virgins.

There is an old joke about “the 3 biggest lies” … “I’ll still respect you in the morning” etc etc.  Add these two:

Anytime the word “public education” is used in a discussion of “the lottery”

Anytime the word “academics” is used in a discussion of Big Time college sports.

You want to change my cynicism … easy.  List the life progress of every student-athlete 5-10-15 years after matriculating thru a school’s FB or BB program.  EVERY student-athlete … not just Rusty Clark, Harris Barton, Todd Fuller, Philip Rivers, and Michael Jordan.  To Ye Olde Legend’s credit … UNC tries to do that in their BB media guide.  Does VT, FSU, or Miami?  Sure, everybody touts their NFLers and NBAers.  Howabout touting the guys with the blown knees and 20 credit hours short of “a degree” in African American Leisure Communications?  You know … the ones that faded off the roster when they “failed to develop”.

Marcus Vick may emerge from all this with a fat NFL contract, fat enough to buy his own Escalade.  Frank Beamer is a tough cob of a coach.  He will shrug and get on to preparing for signing day, spring practice and next season.  The “victims” are the high % of “regular law-abiding kids” who play football at Virginia Tech who must now endure this latest renewal of “all Hokies are thugs” label.  That’s gotta get old as it does for legitimate student-athletes at FSU, Miami, etc and throughout “Big Time” college sports.

The Vick Brothers’ athletic prowess opened opportunity doors for them that most of their high school pals did not have access to.  Toting a rifle in Iraq doesn’t offer Escalades and 70,000 adoring fans.  Nor do most of life’s mundane professions.  Marcus says “it’s no big deal” so why are others so over-wrought on his behalf?

If Marcus had actually apologized to Elvis and/or had that Hampton traffic cop been dozing on December 17 would Marcus still be a Hokie?  Was Marcus’ penalty mandated by senior VT officials concerned with a larger institutional perspective than “reaching a BCS game”.  If VT stumbles next season without Marcus and loses 3-4 games, will Frank Beamer catch “holy hell” from Hokie fans?  Of course, he will.  He is paid $2,000,000/year to win A LOT OF FOOTBALL GAMES.  I suspect there are paragraphs in his contract about “building character” and “academics” and maybe even a line about how “the lottery will improve public education“.  

Wonder what paragraphs were in the contract Dickie offered Frank six years ago?

Frank Beamer, Bobby Bowden, and Larry Coker are considered among the most successful coaches in college football.  If that “bothers you” then get 99% of your fellow fans to redefine their definition of “success”.  In a perfect world, maybe coaches would be held liable for miscreant behavior by their players.  Ever notice how waggling fingers turn to “winks and nods” when a team whips the arch rival and becomes “bowl eligible”.  Frank, Bobby, and Larry have realized that for many years.

   With or without Marcus Vick, VT will be a national power next year as long as Frank Beamer is their Head Coach.  Rival fans will hoot and holler.  This Marcus Mess is the closest thing to “good news” that Cavalier fans have enjoyed in months.  Coach Beamer will recruit the same “type of kid” he has always recruited.  Every kid he signs has 20 other schools salivating for him including YOURS.  Frank will catch a little crap on the rubber chicken circuit but nothing he hasn’t dealt with before.  He’ll catch more crap for losing to FlaSt than the fate of Marcus Vick.

NOTE: BobLee caught holy hell on a soda cracker for the spoof of the Clubhouse Tailgate bunch.  That tells me that all this has REALLY impacted the HokieNation.  When Clubhouse Tailgaters get touchy then you can bet the average Hokie is hunkered down in a mega-funk.  Clubhousers are “the best tailgating fans in the ACC”.  Neither the first time nor last time that we will catch “holy hell” here.  Angry Clubhousers are LOTS nicer than angry Andre Brown fans, that’s FOR SURE!

  The HokieNation feels it is under seige over all this and they are probably right.  Not to worry Hokies.  Next week there will be another sports scandal elsewhere and we cheapshot media assassins will move on.  As Richard Dreyfuss told Roy Scheider (Sheriff Brody); “Sharks stick around as long as there is a food supply” … Feed the beast … Marcus cut himself … we just smelled the blood.

   Ya wanna play the “concern for the kid” card?  OK Humanitarians, I’m fine with that so long as you are as concerned about A.J. Nicholson or Willie Williams or TA McLendon or Mike Mason, etc.  How about miscreant Hoos?  Father Flanagan said “there’s no such thing as a “bad boy””.  There was no addendum … if he is “one of OUR boys”.

   As for my own cavalier attitude to all this.  I rank this mess right along with Jessica Simpson’s divorce.  BobLee and Dean Smith’s famous “billion people in China” simply don’t think either one merits serious teeth gnashing.  Bad boy jocks and Hollywood airheads are like buses and boy friends … always another one coming along in a few minutes.

  Two SSays columns devoted to the Marcus Mess.  Unless there are “new developments” we’re ordering our satellite truck to pull out of Blacksburg and head home.

If Peyton Manning doesn’t win the Super Bowl he will be derided and called “a loser” and “soft”.  Some Colt loonie might even suggest the Colts dump Peyton and draft Marcus Vick.


 Swagger’s Stumper

Who played “Lolita” in the controversial 60s movie?


   Mack left AppState to be OffCoor for Barry Switzer at Oklahoma … then to Tulane … then To UNC.  Change any one of half a dozen plays in The Rose Bowl and Mack Brown is still “Coach February”.  How many of us could handle having so little control over our lives?

   Big win for Ol’ Roy on Saturday.  There will be some Ls in the weeks to come, but lots more Ws too, if Tyler stays healthy.  Wuffs claiming “crooked refs” OF COURSE.  Mizzus and I noted there were NO THUGS on either team … attaboys go out to both Ol’ Roy and Herb.  My earlier comparison of David Noel to George Lynch still stands.

   Congrats to John Bunting for “a big get” in recruiting.  A “4-star LB from Virginia”.  Many young recruit-nerds experiencing first orgasms.

   We were wrong about UNC’s “Round Library” … it’s Louis Round Wilson Library.  That’ll teach us to use Jon Tenuta and Julius Peppers as UNC campus fact checkers. 

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