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A Rational Falcon Fan's Perspective on Irrational Opinions About Michael Vick

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<H1 id=article-title>A Rational Falcon Fan's Perspective on Irrational Opinions About Michael Vick</H1>profilepic_small.jpg?1260299884 by Arthur York

Arthur York


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Correspondent Written on December 07, 2009 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images In Atlanta 's 160-year history, few things have polarized the populous with the fervor of the Mike Vick debacle. The heated issue brings out the worst in many Georgians, with extremes at both ends of the argument seemingly divided along racial lines.

One end, largely white, vehemently protests anything Vick-related and proclaims he is a career criminal (the undertone-laden "thug" proclamation) who should be locked up indefinitely. Many in this group derided him even in his finest hours as Falcons quarterback and took pleasure in watching his downfall.

The other extreme is predominantly African-American, and believes that Vick has been railroaded by the NFL , the Falcons, the American justice system, society in general, and just about everyone else. This contingent harbors a spiteful thirst to see Vick stick it to anyone and everyone ("haters") in general. These are the "Vick fans" who have no allegiance to the Falcons but believe strongly in some nebulous cause they have created out of this situation.

However, most metro area citizens, white and black, compose the quieter, more even-keeled majority: those of us who loved Vick when he was here, were disappointed with how he behaved and the state in which he left this franchise, but we are happy for his newfound maturity and wish him the best in his reclamation... when he is not playing against the Falcons.

Simply put, real Falcons fans just want both extremes of the Vick controversy coin to shut up.

So why the Vick fans' vengeful undying support? Local sports talk radio and posts on online fan outlets suggest many Vick loyalists in Atlanta perceive Vick as an example of everything they believe is wrong or corrupt with a system they feel has treated them in a similar way. These hot-tempered conspiracy theorists herald Vick as the victim of an unjust world that saw a man succeeding and subsequently searched for a way to knock him down.

According to this view, Vick, not the Falcons or their fans, is the one who has been mistreated (ask for an elaboration, and the response generally gets no further than "'they turned him into a poster-child" for something; how this is the Falcons' fault is usually not explained).

The problem with that argument, of course, is that at best it ignores—and more accurately, fabricates—the facts to fit the position.

The truth is that Vick is an example of someone who came from nothing, was given everything, screwed up over and over, was given second, third, fourth chances, yet ultimately orchestrated his own demise.

Vick will be the first to say (and has) that he has no one to blame but himself for his situation. Nevertheless, many continue to hold the Falcons accountable for Vick's downfall.

The fact is the majority of Falcon fans embraced Vick the moment he was drafted. At that time, he injected hope and excitement into a franchise whose fanbase had little cause for either in its 35-year history. He also put a face to the franchise that many in this city who never before felt a connection with the team now felt they could relate to. He gave them something familiar, something nationally acclaimed that was theirs—something they could rally behind.

This in itself was a positive thing. Falcons fans, however, take issue with the fact that these people signed on not as fans of their team, but rather of one player. In many eyes Vick could do no wrong; in others, he could do no good. Extremists took sides immediately, with true Falcon fans caught in the middle and forced to listen to the back-and-forth nonsense.

To illustrate that Vick—and no one else—is to blame for his epic tumble, let's look at a timeline:

April 21, 2001 —Falcons select Vick with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

2004 - Two men are arrested in Virginia for marijuana trafficking while driving a truck registered to Vick. Falcons coaching staff and front office emphasizes to Vick the importance of staying away from such situations in the future.

Nov. 23, 2004 —Falcons sign Vick to a landmark 10-year, $130 million contract.

March 2005 —Vick is sued by a woman who claimed he knowingly gave her herpes. He settles out of court for an undisclosed sum; "Ron Mexico" is born.

Nov. 26, 2006 —When the Falcons are boo-ed at home after a thrashing by the Saints , Vick flicks off the fans on his way to the tunnel. The NFL fines him $10,000 the next day. Another apology.

Jan. 18, 2007 —Miami authorities seize a water bottle with a hidden compartment containing marijuana residue from Vick as he walked through an airport security checkpoint. When asked if he was concerned about Vick, Falcons GM Rich McKay stood by him, saying, "No, I don't think there is, because I think I know [Vick]."

April 24, 2007 —Vick skips a scheduled appointment to appear before Congress, in which he was to lobby for increased federal funding for after-school programs.

July 17, 2007 —Indicted by a federal grand jury for organizing an illegal dogfighting operation.

Aug. 24, 2007 —Commissioner Roger Goodell suspends Vick from the NFL indefinitely.

Sept. 13, 2007 —While out on bail awaiting sentencing, Vick tests positive for marijuana and is placed under house arrest.

The Falcons and (most of) their fans stood by Vick through every one of these public embarrassments, debacles, and lies leading up to his felony conviction and suspension from the league. Finally, when there were no teams willing to trade for him, Arthur Blank—out millions of dollars and struggling once again to right his upended franchise—finally released him.

Was there any mistreatment here? Absolutely: the mistreatment and deceit Vick dealt the Falcons, and Vick's own mistreatment of himself.

Sunday's beating stewed up different emotions for all involved. For Vick fans, it brought some sort of personal validation that Vick 2.0 scored his first TDs against the Falcons. For Vick himself, he showed on some level that he can still compete in the NFL (albeit against a reeling, injury-decimated team with one of the league's worst defenses).

Most important for Falcons fans, however, was the fact that regardless of who was doing the Eagles ' scoring, the loss drove home the sorry state to which their team has fallen this season.

As a life-long Falcon fan who was devastated to watch Vick's career unravel the way it did, and who rooted for him to turn his life around; the obnoxiousness and ignorance of the Vick fans' alarming, unfounded and vicious Falcon-hating makes me sick.

Why can't you just be happy for the man and leave it at that?

Support of Vick need not be synonymous with contempt for the Falcons. The team did nothing to deserve such misdirected ferocity—furthermore, Vick and the Falcons do not feel this way about one another, so why should anyone else? My repeated efforts to engage Vick fans in logical conversation on this topic are met with emotionally-charged, irrational responses.

In one discussion, a guy I spoke with even claimed he had "stuck with" the Falcons his whole life, but ever since the Falcons "treated" Vick the way they did, he has rooted for them to fail. He could offer no factual basis to justify his conclusion, just as those who cry out that Vick should be imprisoned for life are equally unable to do so.

Most people in this city have moved on and just want this hideous mess to go away.

People who deal in extremes, be they political, religious, or otherwise, are by the nature of their position intolerant of any other view. That is an unfortunate and narrow place to dwell. For some people, the Vick issue is just one of those topics—and actual facts be damned.

One thing is for sure: if you were among the minority of Atlantans standing alongside Eagles fans in the Georgia Dome Sunday, taunting and celebrating Vick touchdowns as the home team plunged further into mediocrity, you may be black, white, fuchsia, or ochre—but one thing you certainly are not is a Falcons fan.


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Don't forget about the Falcon fans that enjoyed him so much as a Falcon that they are intencely pissed at him for being such a a$$ hat that he will never play for us again. There has been a loss of starters that voiced their oppinions about his situation, major loss of salary cap (no cap next year) and personal loss of money for 8 season tickets during 2007. Some Atlanta faithful don't like the light he put the franchise in period. The pot bottle, flipping off fans, lieing to everyone just before being indited, you name it he has done it! Yet you have kids out at the Dome chanting "we want Mike". These must be the same little girls who are going to an R-Kelly show after the game. And Then...we get to see a team we hate (Eagles) share a jersey with our beloved Falcons (red and green vick jersey). It's the most rediculous thing I have ever seen and it just about brings my blood to its boiling point.

So lets not forget about the true Falcons fans that are pissed about the condition Vick left our franchise in and are even more enraged by the mindless support he receives from this community based solely on Race. That is the only thing it could be folks because Vick is not the only person in the United States to be found guilty of running a Gambling ring. There is no railroading here, and I, like the Falcons organization, do not support profession athlets that have history of criminal activity. It's called setting an example for the next generation.

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