Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hokie Football: Column on Marcus Vick

Interesting piece on "Michael's convict brother" that I'm sure many Hokie fans and critics alike will come to agree with.

Marcus Vick's on-field skills can't hide his off-field shenanigans
May 2nd, 2006
by Clark Ruhland

Suzy Kolber made me laugh a little bit on Sunday. I have to admit, I watched the second day of the NFL Draft, the day for die-hard football fans. Kolber, ESPN's Sunday anchor, led all viewers to believe that Marcus Vick was going to be drafted, even after four Virginia Tech players were selected in the seventh and final round.

"The seventh round has belonged to Virginia Tech," Kolber said with 10 picks remaining. "But still, no Marcus Vick."

The picks kept winding down: Ten ... Seven ... Three - Vick was still on the board. Finally, the last pick was coming up. Once again, Kolber talked about Vick.

"All of the fans in here have been chanting Marcus Vick for the last 10 minutes," Kolber said, in a laughing tone. "Will he be Mr. Irrelevant?"

Finally, Paul Salata, the founder of the Mr. Irrelevant award, came out to announce the final pick in the draft. The crowd grew quiet, ready to hear Vick's name be called.

"The 2006 Mr. Irrelevant is Kevin McMahan, wide receiver, the University of Maine," said Salata, as the crowd began to chastise the selection.

"Now, don’t boo him," Salata said.

Fans were booing with laughter. The brother of the most prolific player in pro football and the first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback was not valued as a better pick than Furman's Ingle Martin (148th overall) and Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski (194th overall). The draft was officially closed, and the biggest question on day two was answered: Nobody took Marcus Vick.

Vick has potential -- we all know that -- but so did Ryan Leaf, the second overall pick in 1998. Leaf will always be known as the biggest flop in draft history due to his immaturity and arrogance. Vick's biggest flaw, much like Leaf's, is his lack of character on and off the field, a huge turn-off for current teams.

On the field, Vick had a great year statistically, earning him several accolades. But his antics -- showing the West Virginia fans that they were "number one" and the Elvis Dumervil stomp -- were played over and over on television, dropping his already fragile credibility down the drain. Then came more run-ins with the law, forcing fans to question if he would be selected in the draft at all.

Obviously, the draft is about athleticism, but character comes a very close second. Teams look for players they know will represent their team in a positive light.

Ryan Leaf set the San Diego Chargers back almost seven years.

After covering the Hokie football team for two years, I knew who was a good fit in the NFL by their athleticism and mostly their character. Two guys with tremendous character that immediately come to mind are Darryl Tapp and James Anderson -- taken in the second and third rounds, respectively.

Tapp and Anderson handle themselves with class regardless of setting. Both players are leaders on and off the field. Anderson, Tech's quiet defensive leader, was recognized as a Virginia Tech scholar athlete of the year. Tapp, who is heavily involved with Athletes in Action, graduated a semester early to prepare for the NFL.

All of the Hokies taken in the draft showed class this season. After all the years of thugs on Tech's team in the mid-1990s, the team's characteristics have changed drastically. The Team United philosophy has worked to perfection, led mainly by the players drafted this year.

Vick was destined for the NFL this year. If he had not contributed to the delinquency of minors, not been caught possessing marijuana, not driven with a suspended license and not allegedly brandished a firearm, Vick would be sitting pretty.

If Vick never got into trouble in the first place, he would have won the starting job over Bryan Randall in 2004 and had a Heisman Trophy-caliber year last season. He would have forgone his senior year and darted to the NFL Draft. Some experts projected him to be a top pick.

Instead, the train-wreck of Marcus Vick went undrafted due to the fact that nobody wants to take a chance on him. His lack of character cost him a guaranteed contract and numerous sponsorship endorsement deals.

Vick is a laughing matter. His talent alone has earned him an invitation to the Miami Dolphins rookie camp, but if he would have kept his nose clean, he could have had a starting roster spot and been known as Marcus, not "Michael's convict brother."

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