NFL 2011 Preview: AFC West – FootballSunday, September 4, 2011 21:33
AFC West preview for the 2011 NFL season and Touré’s sad defense of Michael Vick.
NFL 2011 PREVIEW
What If Michael Vick Were Invisible?
This week there was almost significant controversy over Touré’s recent ESPN The Magazine commentary where he asks the intriguing question: What If Michael Vick Were White?
You can read the entire piece here: http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/id/6894586/imagining-michael-vick-white-quarterback-nfl-espn-magazine
A great writer like Touré ought to know better than to take himself too seriously. What could be an incisive, probing examination of an individual shrinks up to just another flaccid essay on how the ignorant racist white man can’t grasp the tragic realities inherent in “black culture.”
After comparing Vick’s athleticism to street ball and comparing the Eagle QB’s style to Allen Iverson’s court acumen, Touré’ gives us this:
In those breathtaking moments when the Eagles QB abandons the pocket and takes off, it feels as if he’s thumbing his nose at the whole regimented, militaristic ethos of the game.
All of that is why, to me, Vick seems to have a deeply African-American approach to the game. I’m not saying that a black QB who stands in the pocket ain’t playing black. I’m saying Vick’s style is so badass, so artistic, so fluid, so flamboyant, so relentless — so representative of black athletic style — that if there were a stat for swagger points, Vick would be the No. 1 quarterback in the league by far.
Yo, Touré…There aren’t any swagger points for style–and if you are going to write about your culture, then have some damn respect for history.
Wait, maybe I’m wrong.
Was Fran Tarkenton a brutha? Steve Young? John Elway? Admittedly, none of them artistic, but all three fluid, flamboyant, and relentless.
Does “black, athletic style” mean only superior athletes with dark skin? If you’re white and a quarter second slower in the forty, you have no style?
Beyond the hackneyed device of examining one individual’s history and culture without regard to the myriad of factors defining that culture, Touré fails to mention that Vick has only been an effective NFL quarterback for one NFL season. Before last year, he was mediocre at best, too quick to run, too inaccurate to be an effective passer.
Vick is also just 6’0″, 215 lbs. He missed four games last season. At the end of one of Vick’s “breathtaking moments,” his rib cage was cracked and rattled.
Maybe the “black athletic style” Vick embodies has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with survival. Maybe Touré believes a black quarterback “thumbing his nose at the whole regimented, militaristic ethos of the game” defines “black athletic style.”
White guys can’t thumb?
The HOFers referenced above would say–and I bet Vick would concur–”I’m just trying to make a play.”
Race Without End
Touré goes on to try to explain race as “an undeniable and complex element of Vick’s story”–very cleverly using that premise to minimize Vick’s psychopathology with all too familiar cultural propaganda.
Here’s another question: If Vick grew up with the paternal support that white kids are more likely to have (72 percent percent of black children are born to unwed mothers compared with 29 percent of white children), would he have been involved in dogfighting? I ask this not to look for an excuse but to explore the roots of his behavior. Vick’s stunningly stupid moral breakdown with respect to dogs is certainly related to the culture of the world he grew up in, which he says fully embraced dogfighting. But it’s also related to the household he grew up in.
Poor Michael…Misunderstood…Gee, I hope us folk who had responsible individuals as fathers can grasp poor Michael’s unfortunate history.
When athletes say that it’s not about money, fans roll their eyes knowing it’s usually exclusively about money. When writers insist they’re not making excuses–well, readers know better.
You would think a writer of Touré’s stature would find a fresh angle on the Vick story, or, at least answer the title’s question better than this:
Vick’s father, Michael Boddie, was not a positive influence on him growing up. Boddie admitted to The Washington Post that he was a cocaine user and had been high and drunk around young Vick. He says he often prepared the family garage so Vick could have pit bull fights there. Boddie’s account is disputed by a family friend, who says Vick’s mother would not have allowed that. Either way, at some point in Vick’s youth, his father became estranged from the family. This breakdown of Vick’s paternal relationship is a pattern that’s all too common among black men of his generation. Too many are left to define manhood on their own, so they gravitate toward the most charismatic and inspiring men in their world. Sometimes those men are gritty local sports coaches who teach them the value of hard work, but sometimes they’re ghetto celebrities who are unsavory role models with bad habits.
If Touré had straight-out said these coaches are POS punks who have no place educating children, that would be unique and interesting. Instead he calls them “gritty”, euphemizes criminal behavior with the term “bad habits,” and spends a huge paragraph making excuses disguised as more “roots exploring.”
As usual, you know the ending to this kind of fluff:
And to those who believe we should judge a man by how he responds when dealing with the worst life has to offer — with how he climbs after he hits rock bottom — Michael Vick has become heroic.
And that has nothing to do with race.
Someone, please get me a shovel and a clothes-pin for my nostrils
If Michael Vick is a hero, I’m Ernest Hemingway.
Oh shut up!
In my next post, I’ll tell you why I need the shovel, why I think Michael Vick represents everything wrong with his culture–by the way, it has nothing to do with race–and finally answer the question “What if Michael Vick Were Invisible?
Previews and Predictions
Division Record: 31 – 33
2010 Record: 6 – 10
The AFC West remains one of my favorite divisions because I completed undergrad work at Denver University and nurtured a fervent hate for what was then known as the Orange Crush defense. I loved raising the ire of Bronco fans by calling it the Orange Slush.
Ahh, the good ol’ days.
Did Broncos owner Pat Bowlen’s revelation of short-term memory loss play a role in the firing of Mike Shanahan and the subsequent hiring of Josh McDaniels?
Whatever the answer, we wish the best for Mr. Bowlen and still wonder how long it will take the Broncos to recover from that regime change.
I never thought that Shanahan was the genius people make him out to be, but he consistently put a competitive team on the field and just about any back who ran with his zone-blocking scheme was successful.
New head coach John Fox was a pretty gutsy hire by Denver’s new brain trust, GM Brian Xanders and legendary QB John Elway. Coming off a dismal 1-5 season in Carolina, Fox has to feel like he was banished to an over-crowded hen house when he landed in Colorado.
The Orange & Blue should get immediate help from three of their first four draft picks. Unfortunately, the trio’s first draft selection was Texas A&M’s stud linebacker Von Miller. Every expert I read tabbed him as a 4-3 backer and Fox runs a 3-4.
Then there’s the long, strange trip of a love affair with Tim Tebow…
Looks like a long year in Denver.
Major Story: The Denver defense, bolstered by new safety Rahim Moore, stuns everyone. Broncos offense impresses no one.
Predicted finish: 6 – 10
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
2010 Record: 10 – 6
Is it me or does Todd Haley remind you of a guy always looking for a fight?
Maybe that attitude helped the Chiefs surprise the league by winning the division crown last year.
Murray Dunnosquatis, my lifelong friend and soothsayer, says the Chiefs will struggle under new OC Bill Muir, but I think Murray is an idiot. Muir OCed in Tampa during their glory year and knows the Haley system well. The learning curve under Muir will be easier to navigate for the young Chiefs.
The first round bug may have bit the Chiefs, though. Jonathan Baldwin has turned out to be the same diva in KC as he was at Pittsburgh. Slow-footed and not as athletic compared to elite WRs, Baldwin won’t be the find the Chiefs thought he might be–but 5th round Iowa QB Ricki Stanzi may surprise some people.
Major Story: KC is the darling of the league before a brutal late season stretch vs. the Steelers, Jets, Raiders, Bears and Pack.
Predicted Finish: 9 – 7
2010 Record: 8 – 8
I revel in the Raiders’ misery and enjoy Al Davis’s reputation taking a beating. I think he did Tom Cable a great disservice by firing him and then, even worse, trashing him in a very public and rambling presser ostensibly called to announce the hiring of Hugh Jackson.
Even with all the improvements realized by last year’s team, the Raiders still find themselves hamstrung by the “JaMarcus Russell debacle.”
Does that phrase have a nice ring to it?
Somewhere in The Book of The Universe, it is written that the name JaMarcus Russell cannot be written or spoken without the word “debacle” immediately before or after it. Sort of like “much maligned” and “Mark Malone.”
The Raiders’ biggest question lies unanswered on the field in the name of Jason Campbell, who throws the pretty nice deep ball Davis has been looking for since Jim Plunkett.
If Campbell pulls through, the defense remains near the top ten, and the rushing game averages its stellar 4.9 yards per carry, the Raiders just might steal the AFC West–unless Al Davis escapes again.
It could all come down to the season finale versus the Bolts.
Major Story: Jason Campbell proves to all the world that he, too, is not the quarterback Al Davis thinks he is.
Predicted Finish: 8 – 8
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
2010 Record: 9 – 7
The Bolts led the league in total offense and defense last year. They also lost to the Seahawks, Cardinals, Bengals, and dropped two against Da Raiders.
Astute fans may ask how can a team so full of talent not even make the playoffs.
Simple answer: the Chargers really sucked donkey on special teams, allowing three touchdowns on kickoff returns and a punt return TD. They also had a handful of punts blocked.
Some teams don’t have five punts blocked in the last forty years.
The more important reason that the Bolts sat home last January is the talent and operations are supervised by owner Alex Spanos and GM AJ Smith, who have created an atmosphere of negativity–if Bolt bloggers are to be believed–and coached by Norv Turner.
Here’s a little gem from Bernie Wilson at “Sign on San Diego”:
Asked specifically about [special teams coach, Steve] Crosby at his final news conference, Turner said, “We’re going to look at everything. We’re going to evaluate that as we go.”
The Chargers announced Crosby’s dismissal 2 1/2 hours later in a news release.
“We appreciate Steve’s hard work and dedication to this team over the past nine seasons,” the release quoted Turner as saying.
That’s the kind of gutlessness that makes people hope the Chargers don’t make the playoffs again.
Losing Ron Rivera hurts, but former 49er DC Greg Manusky runs the same system. Offensively Phillip Rivers is too good not to be great someday.
In the NFL, talent wins out. 2011 could be the Chargers year.
Predicted Finish: 11 – 5 – Division Winner
Next up: AFC South
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