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Charlie Hatton
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The High Flying Falcon

I’m very disappointed in Michael Vick

For those who haven’t seen the recent news, earlier this week the Vickster may have attempted to smuggle marijuana onto a plane at the Miami International Airport. Security officials confiscated a water bottle with a hidden compartment that contained ‘a small amount of dark particulate and a pungent aroma closely associated with marijuana’. It seems the skies aren’t quite as ‘friendly’ as Michael had been led to believe.

Now, am I disappointed in Vick because he’s apparently smoking dope? No. Not in the slightest. For one thing, it hasn’t been confirmed at the time of this tsk-ing that the pungent dark particulate actually is marijuana. Maybe the man got his hands on some really good Columbian coffee, and always keeps a stash close by. Maybe those are the cremated remains of his dear departed grandma, whose dying wish was to be flushed down the shitter of a jumbo jet flying at altitude. Maybe Vick always carries a pile of tick turds in his water bottle for good luck. Who knows?

“The man can face three hundred pound slavering linemen and linebackers who run like cheetahs and eat babies for breakfast, but Deputy Gomer and his metal detector wand rattled him up?”

Let’s assume for the moment that the substance in question truly is a stash of marijuana. After all, if it quacks like a duck, and it rolls like a duck, and it smokes like a duck, and you can cram it in a water bong like a duck, then it’s probably not grandma’s ashes, after all. So am I disappointed in Vick for this suspected ‘possession with intent to toke’? Not even a smidgen.

If Mike Vick wants to smoke mary jane, then who am I to tell him no? He’s had a long season; the guy probably just wants to relax for a bit. I’m sure he expended an awful lot of energy leading his team into the… oh. Right. The Falcons missed the playoffs this year.

Well, he’s probably exhausted after putting up all those passing… hrm. Only threw for a hundred and fifty yards a game. I see.

Anyway, I’m sure all those rushing touchdowns were… well, okay, both those TDs probably took a lot. You know, out of him.

Okay, so at least the pot would explain some things this season, assuming this wasn’t his first leaf-laced water bottle of the year. No matter. My view is, as long as he’s prepared to deal with the consequences, the guy can smoke dope if he wants to. He can be the poster boy for all of hemphead nation, for all I care. He can be the ‘Pot-Packing Passer’. Or ‘Superman Spliff’. Or even — I can’t believe I’m writing this — the ‘Wacky Tobaccy Quarterbacky’.

(That one’s going to haunt me for a while. But if this story gets any bigger, ten bucks says some sports rag runs that as a headline before this is all over.

And another ten says the editor won’t feel nearly as goofy for having thought of it. Kitsch sells newspapers, or so I hear.)

Some might argue that Vick’s setting a bad example. True. Some would say that marijuana is illegal, and he should know better. Also true. Some people might contend that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’, and this incident will launch scores of the nation’s children into the murky depths of hard-core addiction.

And that’s going a bit far. Let’s be realistic here. If the guy was caught shooting heroin into his eyeball at thirty thousand feet, that’s a bit of a problem. But a little weed in a water bottle isn’t going to kill anyone. I’ve known a few dopeheads in my days, and in my experience, the only thing pot is a ‘gateway’ to is a bag of Chee-tos. I wouldn’t go investing in the Betty Ford clinic or starting up a methadone factory in your basement just yet.

So why am I disappointed in Michael Vick? Because he was just damned careless. This story should have never happened in the first place.

First of all, I give him credit for using a fancy gizmo as a hiding place. I imagine a fake-compartmented water bottle is exactly the same way that James Bond or Inspector Gadget would carry their cannabis contraband around.

(Which of them is likelier to need a puff now and then is debatable. Sure, one’s getting constantly shot up, tortured, chased, beaten, captured, and blown out of various high-speed vehicles.

But the other dresses in a trenchcoat, has quite probably never gotten laid, and was once portrayed by Matthew Broderick.

I’d call it a toss-up.)

The thing is, a guy like Vick has to know when the jig is up. I understand that he doesn’t fly with us commoners very often, but they haven’t allowed liquids onto passenger planes in months. Even if he gets in line with his doobielicious contraption, he’s got to be able to calmly ditch it, or make some excuse to leave the line to deal with it. The story said that the screeners became suspicious when Vick was ‘reluctant’ to give up the bottle. The man can face three hundred pound slavering linemen and linebackers who run like cheetahs and eat babies for breakfast, but Deputy Gomer and his metal detector wand rattled him up? Where’s the grace under pressure? The poise when the pocket started closing around him?

Meh. I guess it is the offseason, at least in Falcon-land.

All I’m saying is this — I don’t expect my athletes to be role models. They’re as human as the rest of us, and with the kind of cash they have on hand, who knows what depraved and frightening things we’d do? I’m surprised they don’t catch more of these uber-zillionaires bathing in gold doubloons, paying Hollywood starlets to lick their toes, or sponsoring monkey knife fights. Lord knows if I made eight figures a year, I’d spend six or seven of those figures on expenses that could only be described as ‘wallowing’, in one form or another.

I also don’t expect my athletes to be particularly bright. Some are, and some aren’t — again, just like the rest of us. Running a four-four forty or chucking a sixty-yard spiral doesn’t mean you can do rocket science, too. Or long division. Or count to eleven when your jock strap is on. That’s fine.

But I do want one thing from my athletes — they should be smooth. I’d prefer that all of them kept their noses clean all the time — make their curfews, pay their taxes, call home to Mom every once in a while. But if they’re going to engage in illegal, immoral, and/or imbecilic behavior, they should at least look like a pro when they get caught. Or better yet, they should be smooth enough to not get caught at all. Because the only time I want to hear about Michael Vick — or any other jacked-up jittery jock, for that matter — is when he’s between the lines on the field of play. Is that too much to ask, at least until the Super Bowl is over?

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