When ex-Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday, there was a collective sigh of relief in Pittsburgh as well as other cities that currently have NFL franchises.
How dare any team, especially the Pittsburgh Steelers, even contemplate giving a second chance to this incorrigible human being?
Now the last time I checked, Mr. Vick had been released after serving his time. Doesn’t that fact alone suggest that the four or five public floggings still scheduled to be administered to him by the millions of holier-than-thou groups across the country be cancelled? Folks are even talking about mobilizing against Vick to insure that he does not play for the Eagles or any other NFL franchise. In my opinion, they had better mobilize and get a health care bill passed first.
The Eagles showed some true nerve by signing Mr. Vick. I am sure that if Philadelphia would not have inked a deal with Vick, “Future Hall-of-Famer,” backup Eagles QB A.J. Feeley would have come in and taken them to at least the playoffs in the event that D. McNabb might have been injured. I know they have a bright young second stringer, so what! Coincidentally, it sometimes appears when Mr. Feeley is in the game, he has been in several dogfights and everyone had a dog but him.
No, all the negative hoopla about the Steelers potentially signing Vick could not have been because of the color of his skin because as everyone knows, racism as we know it for all intents and purposes has bit the dust, yeah right.
Pittsburgh should be proud of the racial and gender diversity of its athletic, scientific, corporate, artistic and socially trailblazing past. It should also be equally ashamed about the present lack of racial sensitivity and consciousness, in and out of the sports arena. America in general and Pittsburgh have always been proud of being able to offer a second chance to all individuals but in Michael Vick’s case, it seems that the only other chance that a significant percentage of Americans want to give him is another chance to sit and rot in a jail cell.
What about the blood sport of hunting? Every autumn thousands of hunting licenses are issued in Pennsylvania and other states for sportsmen to go out and kill deer, bears and all sorts of game with the ultimate goal being to provide a piece for a trophy case. Where the heck is PETA when you really need them?
Now let’s talk about the ultimate second chance. Pittsburgh is the city that basically ushered in the industrial revolution. In 1892, regional steelworkers took part in the one of the most serious and bloodiest labor strikes in U.S. history. The Homestead strike arose when Henry Clay Frick, an associate and partner of Carnegie’s, took over the leadership of Carnegie Steel while Andrew Carnegie was on a trip to Scotland. Mr. Frick made what he thought was a shrewd move while the big boy was gone. He attempted to cut the wages of the steel workers. The steelworkers at the Duquesne and Edgar Thompson Works joined the strike and shut their mills down in sympathy. Frick took extreme measures. He brought in thousands of strikebreakers. When he sent in 300 Pinkerton guards to protect the strikebreakers, a riot broke out, resulting in 10 deaths and thousands of injuries.
When you look around Pittsburgh there are signs and buildings honoring Henry Clay Frick scattered across the landscape of the city. Now let’s see, there’s the Frick Building here, Frick Park there it’s almost as if this guy was some sort of saint. However, when the coin is flipped it has been said by a few folks that this Frick fellow was deeper than a can of Red Devil Lye.
According to historical accounts shortly after the bloody Homestead strike of 1892, Frick was shot and stabbed by Alexander Berkman. Berkman shot and stabbed Frick and still couldn’t kill him. Frick died in 1919 leaving an estate valued at $120 million and that was in 1919! What would that fortune be worth today? Until last Thursday it was rumored that Mike Vick was very close to being the mayor of “brokeville.”
Also, Monsieur Frick and his business practices caused hundreds of thousands of people to die of various illnesses as a result of being employed by the steel industry as well as the industries that were related to it. It was all about the money. Yet this man and some of the memories of him are honored by the same sanctimonious factions that seem to want to see Vick tarred and feathered.
Pittsburghers complain when athletes like Michael Vick make millions but not when they flock to and support high school and college athletics where they don’t make a dime. However, Pittsburgh seems to be very naïve when it comes to auto and steel plants biting the dust when management can no longer afford to pay some folks and their relatives who barely had high school educations, $40 per hour just to clean windows on vehicles on an assembly line. At least Vick was forced to attend college for two years so that the crooked NCAA could get their share of the loot.
PETA and their cronies hold vigils for dead dogs but how many people hold vigils to commemorate the deaths of the 10 people who died fighting just to make a decent wage for them to take care of their families. Are they gone and forgotten? We all deserve a second chance, even Michael Vick.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)