In a game that meant nothing to anyone Mike Vick once again revealed himself to be all that he ever will be; a flawed thug with anger management problems and poor judgment. Preseason in the NFL is an extended training camp where both defenses and offensives get to work out the kinks in their games. The starters stay in for a quarter, maybe half a game, then the second stringers and those with something to prove go end and get some play time. Rarely do you ever see anyone go off the deep end when it’s preseason but then again there aren’t that many players who have spent time in prison for dog fighting either.
As a rule, most other players don’t consider quarterbacks to be real football players because there are so many rules in place to protect them. Worse, the rules favor offence anyway because offence sells tickets. What wins championships would be defense however, and this makes the defense players hate quarterbacks just a little more. And if that were not enough to make most sensible quarterbacks just shut up and collect a few million dollars per game, Mick Vick had the unmediated audacity to complain last season about getting hit too hard and too often when he was…running. I can name about thirty two defensive backs who might question the protection a man running with the ball ought to have when he’s in their field of play. No, wait, make that one hundred and thirty-two. Once a quarterback takes off running he’s fair game and everyone accepts this as part of the game, except ex-prison bait dog fighting potheads.
Ever hear of Troy Polamalu? If you know anything at all about football you have and even if you don’t you’ve likely heard of him. Quarterbacks fear this man because he is very quick, very intelligent, and he likes catching the ball. They also have seen him in the backfield a few times laying waste to some overpaid ball tosser who happened not to see the corner blitz or a trap up the middle. Polamalu hits other people very hard and he’s good at what he does. Oh, and I suspect he doesn’t like quarterbacks.
So in a game that meant nothing to anyone, once again Mike Vick is throwing a ball into traffic like he did against the Packers last year to lose at home, again, and this time Polamalu is there to catch a deflected ball and he’s off and running. Vick runs downfield and tries to take the man’s knees out. It’s might have been a legal hit but it wasn’t a clean hit, and it wasn’t something a quarterback wants to do. Michael Vick just put a target on his back, and knees, and you can bet every defensive player in the league has see that hit. Polamalu had this to say:
"I was just playing ball just like he was playing ball," Polamalu said.
Polamalu is a patient man. He’s smart enough to know that whining is seen as just that and anything he might say about taking that hit personal is going to haunt him if he cripples Vick in the regular season. He won’t see Vick in the regular season this year, but every dog has his day, as the old saying goes, and now Michael Vick has someone out there waiting for him.
Football is by its very nature a violent sport but players like Troy Polamalu have brought the game to a cerebral level with his play. Many times he intercepts passes when he has read the quarterback or the offensive play, and knows beforehand where the ball will be at a certain time. He’s a man well respected by his peers and by fans, and even former football fans like me. Vick is at best a toxic asset and he may well become a toxic liability. The man has yet to string together two full winning seasons without some drama or another. Drug use, dog fighting, obscene gestures at fans, and an overall inability to appreciate an incredible life he might have, has haunted the man since day one.
I will go out on a limb and say that this will be Vick’s last season. He’s a man on the run from himself and he hasn’t the guts to face failure with effort, losing with learning, and defeat without anger. Going after a man like Troy Polamalu is a very good way to reveal who and what you are. I’m betting that Vick knew he wouldn’t see Polamalu again this year. I’m also betting that Polamalu knows there won’t be a next year for Vick.