The Michael Vick story hit the news before I left the Atlanta area Tuesday morning. When Vick’s picture appeared on the TV screen in the lobby of the Hyatt Place Hotel in Johns Creek one man looked up and scowled.

“I can’t believe they’re going to let him out of prison next year,” he said. “They should leave him locked up and throw away the key.”

Others nodded in agreement.

“I take it you’re not a Vick fan,” I said.

“I was,” he said. “We’ve had season tickets to Falcons games for years. My engineering degree is from Virginia Tech. I was proud. No more. Vick is an example of what is wrong with professional sports. He’s an example of what has gone wrong with Virginia Tech.”

“Why do you say that?”

“When I was at Tech in the 60s, the emphasis was on education, not football. That was before they hired Frank Beamer and let him build a football program around street thugs.”

I’ve heard Tech’s football teams called thugs before but usually from alumni from other schools — not from graduates from the Blacksburg university.

During the six-hour drive back to Floyd, I had a lot of time to think about the concern from an alumni of Tech. Yes, Virginia Tech’s image has not only been been damaged by Michael Vick’s dog-fighting habit but also by the antics of his brother and other football players whose troubles have been front-page news.

Beamer is a winning coach of a football program that brings a lot of money into the university and such schools too often look the other way when money is involved. Indiana put up with the antics of Bobby Knight for too many years because he won national championships.

Beamer thought Michael Vick would bring a national football championship to Tech. More than one cop in the area has told me that arrests of Vick were quashed while he attended Tech. Tech officials intervened to stop an investigation into Vick’s dog fighting activities while he played in Blacksburg. Papers filed by federal prosecutors during the investigation of Vick’s dog fighting activities show he was actively involved in the despicable activity while attending Tech and that Tech officials knew about it.

Beamer admitted he knew that brother Marcus Vick had been arrested on a traffic charge — a violation of his probation with the school — but withheld that information from University officials so the younger Vick could play in a bowl game where he embarrassed the school on national television by stomping on an opposing player. Marcus Vick was finally kicked out of the program and spent a short-lived career with the Miami Dolphins.  He copped a plea to a DUI charge in Norfolk this week.

Beamer’s behavior in concealing Vick’s arrest resulted in more scrutiny of his program by school administrators and, this season, he suspended starting receiver Zach Luckett after the player was arrested in Montgomery County for driving drunk and on a suspended license. In September, Luckett got five days in jail for the DUI conviction — his second in five years.  In the Michael Vick era, Luckett would probably still be playing for Beamer.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Nc87,

    I posted under my full name. What’s yours?

    I really have to say that I don’t appreciate the tone of your post to me.

  2. You don’t live in Floyd County do you? I for one have lived here ALL my life and while at some point you don’t HAVE to lock your doors, it is a wise idea that you do. Bad things DO happen here and no matter HOW MUCH you teach your child to respect the law, 9 times out of 10 they won’t. I am not saying that ALL kids are like this, but there are lots who are. Things are a lot different in this county than they once were. I don’t know if any remembers the “teacher” that was having sex with a student. But things happen in small communities just as they do in larger ones.

  3. I did not bring Mr. Thompson or his past into this discussion. I could care less about his past. I am trying to confine the discussion to the points you have raised. Please quit attempting to skew my statements into something else entirely.

    The points you raised in an earlier include “Normal people (i.e. people who aren’t sports stars, in a “gang,” etc) get DUIs, elude arrests, and participate in animal fighting.” I also believe you mentioned somewhere in an earlier post that statutory rape wasn’t really rape either. It just dealt with age.

    So in an attempt to follow this logic, I offer the following scenarios. Say your son comes homes and says “I was drunk tonight and drove drunk. The police were trying to stop me, but I ran from them.” Do you tell him “That’s OK son, everybody does it. It’s normal.” Say your 16 year old daughter comes home one day and says “I was assaulted and raped today.” Do you say “Don’t worry about it honey. It’s not really rape. It’s normal since everybody does it.” Say someone you know participates in dogfighting. Do you tell that person that’s OK to abuse animals because everybody does it? What if someone broke into your home and assaulted your family? What would you do if the police told you that it happens to everybody and it’s normal?

  4. Rio said:

    “And this was done mostly by sports teams…so they say.”

    That is waaaay too broad a generalization, Rio. The overwhelming majority of teams, and team athletes like myself, that have never done anything of the sort don’t deserve to be painted with the same brush as the despicable offenders. Those kinds of comments are harmful and encourage circumstances such as enveloped the Duke lacrosse team.

  5. I, in no way, want to get involved in this thread…but simply to say that where I come from, the only thing a gang banger means is someone involved in a group of guys having sex with one woman. That is a gang bang. And this was done mostly by sports teams…so they say. It really has nothing to do with gangs or skin color.

  6. Jack, You are right and I apologize. I was really puzzled by the gang banger talk and was thinking about where I have heard that term. Unfortunately, growing up in NY state, my personal experience with hearing anything about gb’s was regarding football players and most of it was high school related. Just because that was my experience does not mean that this is exclusive to that demographic or even true….I should have clarified that. And with all parts of society, there are always the few that give the majority a bad name. So again, I am sorry and will be more careful in the future.

  7. It wasn’t the original post – it was in the comments. Sorry to confuse you. Thug and Gang Banger are both terms that people use to describe young black men these days. You ever hear of somebody calling a white kid a “Gang Banger” or a “Thug?” Of course not.

    And winning an argument? I haven’t seen one legitimate counter-argument to what I’ve said here. Colleges are there not only to educate but to make money, as well. You are fooling yourself if you don’t think so.

    Some of you act as if Virginia Tech had the most sterling academic reputation before Michael Vick. C’mon folks, this isn’t Harvard, Duke, or MIT we are talking about. It’s Virginia Freaking Tech. They accept 70% of all the people who apply there. You act like a couple of bad stories (stories that are coming out of other Universities at even higher rates) has ruined VT’s standings on top of some podium. In the US News rankings, VT sits at the bottom of the Atlanta Coast Conference in Undergraduate ratings (with only NCST and FSU trailing them). Some “reputation” that is getting ruined.

    How about coming up with some arguments, supported by facts, before you attack me?

  8. DB wrote:

    “Thug and Gang Banger are both terms that people use to describe young black men these days. You ever hear of somebody calling a white kid a “Gang Banger” or a “Thug?” Of course not.”

    Well that’s a racist statement if I ever heard one. Of course people use the terms ‘Thug’ and ‘Gang Banger’ about people with ALL shades of skin color. Maybe not where you live, but where I live (Atlanta) and everywhere I’ve been (all over the USA), ‘Thug’ and ‘Gang Banger’ terms are applied to anyone who acts like a thug or dresses like a gang banger.

    I think this is what they call a strawman argument – you can’t win an argument so you set up a completely different argument that has nothing to do with the original discussion.

    My opinion is – athletics in college is all about the money. Even way back when I was a college student (I think they call that Medieval Times now) I resented the “athletic fees” that ALL students were required to pay, whether we participated in athletics or not. College should be about academics, period.

    And thugs are thugs, even if their skin is not the same shade of brown as mine. It’s what they do that makes them that, not how they look. What Vick did makes him a thug, period. People who promote that behavior by ignoring it (Beamer) are just leaders of the gang. Period.

  9. Chris,
    I used the term gang banger in my post and I stand behind it. Obviously DB doesn’t realize that there can be other races in criminal gangs. According to Wikitionary, a gang banger is a member of a violent gang and the term can also refer to a hooligan, gangster, or punk. Race is not mentioned. To me, when you assoicate with people who violate the law and moral codes, you become like them. Please DB tell me that dogfighting is not a criminal activity. Tell me that drunk driving is not criminal. Tell me that eluding arrest is not criminal.
    As my mother used to say, “When you lie down with dogs, you get fleas” and I think the Vick brothers have proved who they are by their actions.

    The fact remains that when you have talent and can play football or baskteball in this country, you are one of the chosen ones and are told that you can do no wrong. No matter what you do, the coaches or parents are there to bail you out of trouble. Grades are changed so you can continue to play even though you may not be able to write a complete sentence. Youthful indiscretions are expunged from records,ie Ahmad Bradshaw. Unfortunately, reality hits many of the chosen ones square in the face when they don’t make the NFL or NBA.

  10. Lets just drop the racist tirade and focus on the argument at hand, I was just bringing it up for the irony and not an argument point.

    So lets be blunt about things. People who are NOT “Gang Bangers” commit the crimes you speak of ALL THE TIME. Why does getting a DUI, eluding arrest, etc make you a Gang Banger?

    Normal people (i.e. people who aren’t sports stars, in a “gang,” etc) get DUIs, elude arrests, and participate in animal fighting. They participate in drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. And guess what – a lot of normal people (most of them, if they don’t have priors) get quite a bit of leniency in the Criminal Justice system just like some athletes do.

    And guess what – if you commit a crime as a kid (and you are just a normal citizen who is not gifted in sports) – it normally gets expunged from your record (so Bradshaw is not unlike the norm). That is not a school issue, that is a CJ system issue.

    As far as being bailed out… the links I read on the original post that claimed VT officials knew Vick was involved in dog fighting did not mention anything of that sort. Now there might be “papers filed” that mention Tech’s officials had known- but the links Doug posted did not say that. Also, I have not seen any official reports of grade changing from any local school for athletes, and until I see it, I won’t believe it. In fact, FSU suspended several athletes for a couple of games for cheating on a test during the summer. Maryland kicked one of their star QB prospects off the team for a year for cheating on a test. Again, that doesn’t sound like institutional leniency to me.

    I agree that college should be about academics, but in order to produce revenue and generate publicity they make LESS THAN 100 exceptions (and even less than that – not all football players are below the standards) for admission into their school. Lets see… make ~50 exceptions on admission and generate over 40 million in revenue plus countless amounts of publicity.. that’s a risk almost every Division 1 school in this country is willing to take.

    PS – if you want to make comparisons, Penn State has had 61 Football Players arrested since 2006 and still holds a higher academic rating than Virginia Tech.

  11. Yes let’s be blunt. The high school I attended in southwest Virginia made it common practice to change grades so the star football players could play. What did it do for the players? When they go into college, they could hardly read or write and they flunked out. As a matter of fact, years later several of the football stars came to where I worked to put in applications and I had to help them fill out their applications because they could not read or write enough to fill it out.

  12. We aren’t talking about changing grades in high school, we are talking about in a university setting and again, until I see proof of it happening it’s not a valid argument.

    And I know, I started the racist thing, but as I said in an earlier post it was merely to point out the irony of the situation and I had originally said that I hoped it didn’t divert the debate.

  13. This has turned into quit a comical debate. DB I have to ask, do you think that the drinking, drugs and statutory rape ONLY exist in college?

  14. See one of my earlier replies

    “Normal people (i.e. people who aren’t sports stars, in a “gang,” etc) get DUIs, elude arrests, and participate in animal fighting. They participate in drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. And guess what – a lot of normal people (most of them, if they don’t have priors) get quite a bit of leniency in the Criminal Justice system just like some athletes do.”

    Of course these things don’t only happen in college, but this argument is not really about outside of college, it’s about college athletics.

    People here are arguing that only the “Gang Banger” football players (the dumb ones that shouldn’t even be given a chance to go to college because of their athletic ability) are the ones committing such offenses as statutory rape, drugs, DUI, etc. My point is that every day there are offenses like this committed by regular, non-athlete students yet people are acting like it’s the end of the world because a football player or two at Tech has done it too. My other points is hat Tech is nowhere as bad as many, many other schools in the country when it comes to their athletes getting in trouble.

  15. I appreciate the clarification DB.

    I will agree with you on the aspect that the Vicks are ALWAYS a big issue. I for one was happier than a pig in mud to see those two fall flat on their face. When Michael was such a “big deal” with Tech, it did help put Tech on the map as far as football. I HATED going anywhere NEAR C-burg during a Tech football game and moreso hated working during game time.

    I can’t say as I agree that people are saying that only “Gang Banger” football players are the only ones doing the crime. Those people just happen to be in the spotlight BECAUSE of them having such high profile while they were at Tech.

  16. If grades are changed in high school, why would you not think that grades are changed in college when there is money involved? I’m sorry DB but your idea that we are arguing that dumb football players should be not be allowed to go to college is false. No one has said that. I’m for everyone getting an education. I’m sure many people want everyone to be educated. College “should be” for education not for football and basketball. Those are extra curricular activities. You should be in school to learn not to play sports.

    Also I don’t know any “normal people” who do drugs, drink and drive, and fight animals. Don’t know where you live if normal people do that, but I want to stay far away from there.

  17. DB- So until you see something with your own eyes, you don’t believe it? Guess you don’t believe in a lot of things then like gravity, matter, atoms.

  18. Sure, I’ve never seen atoms or gravity but I have seen books, articles, etc from reputable sources that can prove (to a degree) what these things are. What I haven’t seen is any reputable source (except for your personal High School experience) that backs up your claims of widespread grade tampering.

    If you had actually read my post thoroughly you would have noticed that when I said “normal people” I meant people who were not athletes or your so-called “Gang Bangers.” Here is my direct quote:

    “Normal people (i.e. people who aren’t sports stars, in a “gang,” etc) get DUIs, elude arrests, and participate in animal fighting.”

  19. And if you would have read my statement, it said

    “Also I don’t know any “normal people” who do drugs, drink and drive, and fight animals. Don’t know where you live if normal people do that, but I want to stay far away from there.”

    All the normal people I know work 40+ hours a week, live decently, pay taxes, pay their bills, and don’t break the law.

  20. Db’s quote “What I haven’t seen is any reputable source (except for your personal High School experience) that backs up your claims of widespread grade tampering. “\

    quick Google search:

    Univ of Minn
    Cal State Univ at Fresno
    St. Bonaventure
    Univ of GA

    and just recently at Garner Webb in North Carolina: http://archives.cnn.com/2002/EDUCATION/10/08/grade.tampering.ap/index.html

    Is that enough for you DB or do you an apple to hit on the head like Newton?

  21. What you aren’t comprehending is that I don’t differentiate between “normal” people and good, moral people. You are assuming a “normal” person is one of good moral fiber – I don’t assume that. People have different values and who am I (or you) to say that someone with a different belief structure isn’t “normal.”

    The normal I was specifically talking about here were people who were not involved in A)gangs B)athletics and was not making a judgment on their moral character.

    And if you don’t think there are people who work 40 hours a week, pay taxes and their bills, and still don’t get caught up in alcohol or drugs then I’m sorry to burst your vision of a perfect world. The author of this blog is a self-admitted recovering alcoholic. Do you think he wasn’t a normal, good, hardworking person when he was struggling through that point in his life? Just because people struggle and get into bad things doesn’t inherently make them bad people.

    Finally, This is not an argument about faith, and I won’t make it one.

  22. The bottom line is, YES athletes get preferential treatment at Universities. Whether it be grades, freebies, or any multitude of other things. Athletes are like celebrities on campus. However to think that the star quarterback and the third string offensive lineman get the same treatment from coaches, judges, or the public is nieve. If any of these crimes would have been commited by the third string redshirted punter, nothing would ever been said about it. He would be found guilty and released from the team and it would not make the news nor would we be blogging about it now.

    The fact is society holds star athletes at a higher standard than the average student. And so does the University and the Judicial System. They are roll models for our children and are seen nationally on T.V. all the time. This comes with the territory of being a star. AND it is their responsibility to keep their nose clean. However if they don’t, because of their stardom, someone will be there to clean it for them.

  23. DB hit the nail in the head on this one. Its very very easy to see that Kelly Hodge just “skims” though DB’s posts and doesn’t actually read them. It’s not that difficult to understand if you just take some time and read the posts friends.

  24. This will be the absolutely last post I divulge in this thread. As far as personal attacks – the only ones I see being thrown around are against myself – questioning my faith, accusing me of being racist. I have made valid points which absolutely not one has been addressed logically (except for the grade tampering – in which I am STILL waiting to see a report of that coming out of Virginia Tech – the school we were discussing).

    So finally, in response to the last of Kelly’s.

    “I did not bring Mr. Thompson or his past into this discussion. I could care less about his past.”

    No you didn’t – but I did. I think Mr. Thompson understands that it was not used to throw him under the bus, but rather a perfect model of a how a good “normal” person can get caught up in bad things. He has been very open about the situation and I commen him for his strength in overcoming that addiction.

    “I also believe you mentioned somewhere in an earlier post that statutory rape wasn’t really rape either. It just dealt with age.”

    You are right, that is exactly what I said – the definition of statutory rape is as follows “A term used in some legal jurisdictions to describe consensual sexual relations that take place when an individual (regardless of gender) has sexual relations with an individual not old enough to legally consent to the behavior.”

    So, statutory rape isn’t a young person being forcibly made to have sex – it is CONSENSUAL (unlike “rape” which is forced). So in essence it is NOT really rape. So if my daughter came to me and said I have be statutoraly raped, I would promptly ask her why she consented to have sex with someone. Now if she said she had just been raped, that is another story.

    Same goes for the DUI scenario. If my son got a DUI, would that make him a bad person not worthy of his own fahter’s love? Of course not! This is the fundamental part of my argument that you are not grasping – normal people who don’t play sports or don’t participate in gangs CAN and DO make horrible mistakes but that does not make them (in themselves) horrible, gang-banger, thugged out people.

    And lets be honest here – DUIs and Drugs and Consensual Sex are on a totally different level of “evil” below coming into someone’s house and assualting their family. If you can’t see that then there is no point in even debating.

    And as far as dog fighting – I do think this is horrible. But using one person’s mistakes (Vick’s) to characterize a whole program at a university is not appropriate. See Mr. Russell’s post about using broad generalizations.

    And NC was exactly right – I don’t think you are reading my posts thoroughly because you are not comprehending the context of some of the things I am saying.

    And as far as “picking me apart” I have show facts (and sources) and have recieved nothing back. “Quick Google Search” is not a source. Doug is pretty good about killing threads where people are attacking each other, so I think that the perception of me attacking Kelly on here is a little skewed.

  25. We will never agree I’m sure.

    However you have me grateful for several things. One I am thankful to live in community where I don’t have to lock my doors. Two I still live in a place where people still treat each other with respect and teach their children respect for the law and to have values and morals. And three hopefully DB stays far, far, far away me.

  26. Beamer should be put in a pit with MV and about 20 hungry lions. He had the ability to put a stop to Vick’s sadism years ago, and because he cared more about his football team than he cared about the sadistic, senseless, vicious abuse of innocent animals, the next 7 years full of dogs suffering and dying, is partly his responsibility.

  27. Ms Hodge lives in a fantasy world… Good parents DO teach kids respect for the law, but no one is perfect. Normal people mess up every single day. I have never, ever, seen someone misunderstand the context of these comments as much as Kelly Hodge. Also, Ms Hodge’s last comment “hopefully DB stays far, far, far away me”…was very immature. It makes me wonder if anyone ever taught Ms Hodge any “respect, morals, or values.”

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