Michael Vick has been all over the news this week. First the web was abuzz after Toure, the accomplished author and journalist known for his daily Twitter rants about any number of subjects, wrote a piece for ESPN the Magazine entitled “What if Michael Vick were white?”. Then it was announced that Vick has just inked a 6 year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles worth $100m.
In Toure’s piece, he examines the subject of how different a person Mike Vick would be if he were white.
The column caused a spike in Toure’s mentions on Twitter (@Toure if you’re interested), some agreeing while other disagreeing with his analysis. Toure made sure to give each commenter their 15 minutes, retweeting many of their thoughts and responding to others. At issue was the photo selected for the piece, a computer-generated image of Michael Vick, transformed into a white quarterback for the Eagles. The title, “What if Michael Vick were white?” also caused a lot of backlash. However, Toure took to Twitter to explain that neither the headline nor the image was of his doing and that he actually personally asked the editors to not run that particular headline.
Toure’s piece examines Vick’s “swag” on the gridiron, surely the product of being maybe the most gifted athlete to ever grace a football field. It’s later in the article where the true discussion begins. Toure explores the ultimate “what if”: would Vick had been treated the same regarding dog fighting had he been a white quarterback? Toure quickly surmises that it would be foolish to think that a white QB would be able to get away with dog fighting in a society that values the lives of all living creatures. He goes deeper, explaining how such a “what if” is dangerous because if he were indeed white, this wouldn’t even be a story.
Toure does a good job of explaining how it often is a class, and not a race, issue. Vick’s background–cocaine abusing father, single mother—all contribute to the Michael Vick that stands before us now, dazzling each Sunday night. Everything—the dog fighting, the projects, his parents, bankruptcy, etc.—have shaped him, good or bad.
Toure ends his article by likening Vick’s story to that of a movie, where the protagonist triumphs over all obstacles placed before him. However, Vick’s story is nowhere near done and is still being written daily. How will it end? The Eagles have surrounded him with so much talent this year that backup QB Vince Young dubbed them the “Dream Team.”
Today’s announcement will make Vick one of the NFL’s highest-paid players. Many are saying this deal completes the rehabilitation of the star quarterback, whose career was in ruins after his conviction and spell in a federal prison. According to CNN Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement,
“I’m very happy we were able to reach an agreement with Michael on this long-term contract. It’s a product of all the hard work Michael has done to better himself over the last couple of years, both on and off the field.”