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Golden moment missed
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You could have heard a pin drop in the normally noisy American Legion barroom in Marietta.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank was about to appear on TV to reveal what he intended to do about star quarterback Michael Vick, accused torturer and serial killer of man’s best friend.
After about a minute of Blank on the tube, the geezer-bar crowd returned to their normal topics of conversation — playing golf and comparing doctors’ visits.
Blank could have been the hero of the house on the Vick matter. Instead, he chose to play CYA and pass the buck. We heard a lot of mumbo-jumbo about league rules and the commissioner’s office and the players’ union.
We didn’t hear much about the cruelty of torturing dogs to death for fun and profit, except that Arthur thought such criminal acts were really bad. At the end of Blank’s spiel, it was pretty clear (though never stated) that Vick is finished as a professional football player, at least in Atlanta.
Perhaps the Falcons’ owner was a bit skittish about saying what needed to be said. After all, Bwana Blank had just been on safari, stalking wild beasts in the bush while his marquee player back home was being indicted for wantonly killing domesticated animals. It took Blank a week to figure out what to say after he emerged from the jungle.
Without dwelling too much on the technicalities of Vick’s alleged monstrous behavior, Blank could have made one thing clear. He is aware that many fans are sick and tired of watching bums play football.
Many of us have remained loyal Falcons’ fans through 40 years of disappointing performances. Is it too much to ask that these second-raters, even the ones who are over-hyped quarterbacks, abide by the law and behave themselves off the field as well as they do on it?
Vick has already been in enough minor hot water to suggest he would cause the Falcons and his sportswear sponsors serious image problems. Vick didn’t bother to get a plain haircut until a federal grand jury indicted him for running dog fights and torturing to death mutts that weren’t quite vicious enough to kill other canines.
Too bad about Vick and the millions of little boys who saw No. 7 as a role model. With perhaps a bit more guidance in the right direction, Vick might have grown up to be a male version of Oprah Winfrey.  
What I wrote earlier may have been too harsh on Blank. After all, he’s just a business guy trying to make a few bucks from a peculiar form of showbiz. Besides, thuggery is not limited to the Atlanta Falcons or even professional football, though goodness knows many pro players seem more at home in police stations than playing arenas.
You have to hand it to Blank. He has made the Falcons’ football experience more exciting, even if his team still loses most of the time.
And it’s hard to single out the Falcons for coddling depraved gangsters when one considers:
— An NBA referee is accused of fixing basketball games to enable his mobster pals to win huge bets.
— Doping has become so rampant as to imperil the future of the international Tour de France bicycle race.
— San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds is widely believed to have juiced himself with substances to help him come within striking distance of Hank Aaron’s homerun record.
— A civil rights crusade has begun on behalf of a Douglas County high school footballer, Genalow Wilson, who is in prison for having oral sex with a child under an old law that has since been watered down.
— The University of Georgia Bulldogs will shortly open their season against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, whose outstanding defensive player, Chris Collins, has been under indictment (and free on bond) for the past three years for the rape of a 12-year-old girl whom he first dosed with whiskey. His trial is expected to be held soon, now that his player eligibility is about to expire, Clearly, moral lapses are not restricted to the players.

Contact Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA  30160, or e-mail:
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