NFL 2011 Preview: AFC South – FootballMonday, September 5, 2011 22:41
AFC South preview for the 2011 NFL season and more on Touré’s sad defense of Michael Vick.
NFL 2011 PREVIEW
What If Michael Vick Were Invisible?
Let’s continue our discussion of Touré’s provocative article asking the reader, “What if Michael Vick Were White?” Here is the link to the full essay, so you can think for yourself: http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/id/6894586/imagining-michael-vick-white-quarterback-nfl-espn-magazine
Terms and Limitations
From my viewpoint, Touré makes mistakes common to many social commentators: they offer ideas without context–or with too narrow a context and they don’t adequately define their terms.
“Culture” in the context of Touré’s essay would be defined as: a particular set of attitudes that characterize a group of people. Touré discusses Vick’s behavior and athletic style primarily in the often unfortunate context of black culture: a broken home, defined by poverty, with athletics being one of the only escape routes.
That definition, and Touré’s use of it to explain Vick’s fall from grace and subsequent climb back only muddies the conversation by excluding the next two meanings of the word: the beliefs, customs, practices, and social behavior of a particular nation or people; a group of people whose shared beliefs and practices identify the particular place, class, or time to which they belong.
Simply put, cultures do not exist in a vacuum.
Separating African American attitudes, customs, behavior, and beliefs from American culture is like trying to explain Rocky Road ice cream without mentioning the nuts, chocolate, and marshmallows.
Yeah, it has cream, a little salt, and tastes god-damned great.
That explains it all; thank you Touré.
In a sociological and political context it can be said this way: an exclusively white, male government borne of slave owners who conceived the freest society in history cannot help but create a culture mired, to some extent, in selfishness, irresponsibility and misogyny, economic exploitation, class warfare, and hypocrisy.
Separating Michael Vick’s culture–the attitudes, beliefs, and practices from which his psychopathic behavior emerges–from the rest of American culture can never fully reveal the character of the man or explain his behavior.
For example, dog fighting, until Vick’s crime came to light, had been openly practiced in much of the American South relative to the much more protected underground network snaking through the woods of states like Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware. Dog fighting is a Southern thing as much as a black thing–a uniquely, sick, disturbing, and typically American thing.
Regardless of tragic, systemic, or any other factors necessary for rational analysis of Vick’s plight, there is something utterly inhuman and disturbing about the culture in which Vick or any other miscreant, “fully embraces dog fighting.”
The way we fully embrace and fawn over athletes and celebrities is also uniquely sick and endemic to our culture. Americans worships ball players and movie stars the way religious fanatics worship their gods. A clue to the insidious nature of this phenomenon reveals itself in this innocent little nugget from Michael Vick’s Wikipedia bio:
Vick…learned about football from a second cousin four years older, Aaron Brooks…both spent a lot of time as youths at the local Boys and Girls Club As a 10-year-old throwing three touchdown passes in a Boys Club league, [Vick's] apparent football talents led coaches and his parents to keep special watch.
The key phrase in that paragraph is “special watch.” As a father of three boys, I coached sports for over ten years. I saw parents who had fantasies of their kids having “apparent talents” push those kids–from elementary school through college–in borderline sick ways. Somewhere along the line these people came to believe their kids had to play by different rules. Their kids often did very well on tests they never took. When their kids got into trouble, understandings were reached, consequences were minimized, responsibilities ignored.
I ain’t for one second gonna lie to you, if my kid had Michael Vick talent, I would have been one of those same parents. “My kid is special, yours isn’t.”
For a smorgasbord of reasons–greed, blindness, envy, and personal failure–we create the Michael Vicks of our world. In turn, that obsession compels us to create the redemption myth demanding that monster to burst from the ashes reborn–the very ashes created by our angry torches.
The Invisible Man
Touré’s conclusion declaring Vick heroic is nothing more than a lame attempt to define Michael Vick by rendering him invisible. There is no mention of individual responsibility because, like the Michael Vicks of the world, it has never existed for the Michael Vicks of the world.
Image becomes more important than flesh and blood. Athletes and the sycophanatic media speak of athletic “legacy” as if ballplayers were Presidents and Kings.
Deep down, Vick and his fanatics know the arrogance, entitlement, and narcissism are undeniable. They do their best to reduce these personal demons to obscure phantasms, knowing they can never be wholly erased–shadows on an x-ray the patient is never told of.
If you don’t believe me, watch this interview with Sal Paolantonio after Vick signed his second 100 million dollar contract: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atj6Nq6RVXg
Make special note of “Sallie” acting like he wants to co-author Vick’s autobiography–sniveling so hard we almost see Vick’s jock straining from his waistband.
The real Michael Vick appears at about the 2:47 mark, where the redeemed one explains what he tells his children regarding “all that he’s been through” and “all the sacrifices he’s made.”
It’s like he’s thumbing his nose at us.
Previews and Predictions
Soothsayer, sage, and distant cousin of Michel Nostradamus, Murray Dunnosquatis, and your humble columnist continue our division-by-division preview of the 2011 season…
Divisional Record: 30 – 34
This is, perhaps, the division we can safely project to enjoy the most flux in hierarchy due to the pain in Peyton Manning’s neck, Chris Johnson’s new contract and the potential ascendance of Matt Schaub to elite quarterback status. And, don’t forget our favorite Florida team…
2010 Record: 6 – 10
The Spotted Cats are always tough in the trenches and their defense is supposed to be much better. If they don’t improve the fourth worst defense in the league, this may be the year Jack Del Rio finds a home with another team. A lot of the Jacksonville faithful point to the Jags special teams as being solid, but stats say they are barely average.
A few years ago Del Rio made a splash by choosing David Garrard as his QB guy and has since watched Byron Leftwich play excellent football as a back-up in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Garrad has never ranked higher than 17th as an NFL signal caller.
With only five picks in the ’11 draft, the Jags chose Blaine Gabbert with the tenth overall pick. Garrard and Del Rio’s days leading the Jags are numbered.
Blackouts will be an issue, again, in Jacksonville.
Major Story: Blaine Gabbert proves he belongs; Del Rio fired during the bye.
Predicted Finish: 5 – 11
The Indianapolis Colts may have to face an end to the Manning era sooner than they ever imagined. You have a workhorse quarterback entering his 15th season with a degenerative nerve condition in his neck–not the kind of injury to play around with. It all sounds so ominous.
Manning has carried this team offensively since his second year. Defensively, the eternally injured Bob Sanders left for San Diego.
Perhaps sniffing the wind, Bill Pollian beefed up the offensive line with tackles Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana, and the Colts RB tandem of Joseph Addai and Donald Brown may have an opportunity to change the Colt’s identity. Kerry Collins can’t carry a team like Manning; he needs a balanced attack.
And the defense needs too many better football players.
Major Story: Manning’s career in jeopardy. The Blue Ponies miss the post-season for the first time in nine years.
Predicted Finish: 9 – 7
Yet again, the Texans are the trendy pick to snatch the division from the Colts. GM Rick Smith shored up every level of 2010′s third worst defense–but it may not be enough. Young defenses often need more than an entire offseason to gel. Since no offseason took place this year, the Texans might struggle a little, but the presence of Jonathan Joseph takes a lot of pressure off second year LCB Kareem Jackson.
The smartest move made by Smith and hot-seated coach Gary Kubiak was convincing Wade Phillips to be Houston’s DC.
Major Story: Texans start off 3 – 1, then must learn how to deal with success.
Predicted Finish: 10 – 6 AFC Wild Card
2010 Record: 6 – 10
Statistically, Houston is a better football team than the Titans. I know that.
Houston drafted with a good sense of the value to need ratio the Titans seemingly abandoned. I know that.
Tennessee inexplicably took Jake Locker a round and a half sooner than most pundits expected him to be picked….
The Titans defense seldom showed up last year, but that’s the way it is when you have no one to play quarterback.
Mike Munchak has the kind of fire that can help the Titans get over the Vince Young disaster. I’m picking Tennessee to win the South because Matt Hasselback sees his window is closing and desperately want another trip to the promised land.
Sometimes you gotta go with what your gut tells you. I’d be lyin’ if I didn’t say I just have a hunch the Titans can turn it around.
Major Story: Hasselback has a career year.
Predicted Finish: 10 – 6 Division Winner
NEXT UP: AFC EAST
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