Michael Vick, Marketing and the 'era of Vick'
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Here we are past the halfway point of this up to now pretty darn exciting regular season of the world’s finely marketed sport-NFL Football.
We have had a number of surprising situations arise this season such as the implosion of the defending Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers and their motorcycle-loving QB Ben Roethlesberger.
The fall from grace of one time league golden boy Drew Bledsoe has been well-documented as his position as the number one passer for the Dallas Cowboys has now been entrusted to the talented, but inexperienced arm of Tony Romo.
But none to me has had the far reaching effect as the selling of Michael Vick as the leader of this, the new era of professional football. Since his rookie season in 2001, the Atlanta Falcons along with the NFL and media outlets have trumpeted this time as the “Era of Vick” a position of pressure that this talented young man is destined to have little chance of succeeding in.
All you have to do is open any paper, switch on any of the scores of NFL's TV or Radio shows, and I guarantee you will hear of the greatness of this 26-year-old pheonomenon from Newport News, Virginia. From his much anticipated and trumpeted beginnings in the NFL, Vick has proven himself over and over again with his courage and athleticism that he is arguably the top overall athlete playing NFL football today. The only thing that Vick has yet proven himself on is his ability to be considered one of the great quarterbacks of the game. Ranked a lowly 26th in league quarterback passing ratings, a disappointing 11th in the league in touchdowns thrown and with a career completion average of less than 55%, Vick has certainly shown flashes of his brilliance this season in wins over the Cincinnati Bengals but has surely shown more than just flashes of mediocrity in losses to both the lowly regarded Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.
We know that the NFL is trying to take a playbook from the NBA's marketing of the legendary Michael Jordan almost 2 decades ago and is looking to introduce the entire sports world to the talents of a young black athlete that young urban consumers and fans will latch allegiance and pocketbooks to. But in fairness to Vick, it’s a position that he is almost undoubtedly doomed to fail in for despite his athletic prowesss, he has not proven himself to be in possession of the sometimes hard to measure intangible of being a winner and even with all his talents and the fact that you should never try to compare apples and oranges, he may never reach the professional heights and dominance of a Michael Jordan in basketball or a Warren Moon in football.
Up to this point in his career you have to truthfully classify Michael Vick as somewhat of an enigmatic 50 million dollar underachiever in the role as the dominant NFL superstar that the league and media would like you to believe. Without the championship rings so far, a la Tom Brady or Joe Montana or personal achievement records as Peyton Manning or Dan Marino, will Vick ultimately become merely a footnote in the annals of the NFLs new era much as the unfortunate injury-plagued career of 1970s `can't miss’, superstar in the making, Bert Jones of the Baltimore Colts, who despite being incredibly talented faded into obscurity after such a celebrated introduction to the league. Whatever happens to the historical footnote that Vick is destined to carry throughout his career, the leagues spin doctors should move on to others more deserving at this time and give the still talented Vick his chance to achieve greatness in the same way of all the others who came before him--on the football field where it really counts and not on league or network directives.
Copyright@ Edward Zawadzki All rights reserved
Reprinted with permission
Along with being Canada Free Press sports editor, Edward Zawadzki is also a best selling author and sports broadcaster in the Toronto area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org