When will they ever learn?

Michael Vick looks to be in trouble with the law again

In the past decade, professional sports has been a revolving door for players who are repeatedly involved in off-field incidents and it seems that this trend is going to continue.

Today, more details were released with regards to the shooting that occurred after Michael Vick’s birthday bash last Thursday night.

It was initially thought that Vick left the nightclub w,here his “ALL WHITE 30th birthday bash” was taking place, at least 10 maybe 20 minutes before the shooting occurred. However, time stamped video shows that Vick left the nightclub at around 2:07am and that the shots rang at about the 2:10am mark.

The shooting victim has now been confirmed to be Quanis Phillips, a party attendee and a co-defendant of Vick’s in the federal dog fighting case. Vick is not a suspect in the shooting, but part of his probation states that he is not allowed to have contact with anyone convicted of a felony unless granted permission by his probation officer. Vick claims that he did not invite Phillips and that he did not associate with him at the party.

No one right now knows the real story behind this but time and again we are seeing the same athletes unable to stay out of trouble off of the field.

It is possible that this incident is going to spell the end for Vick’s NFL career as the NFL has said that they have a zero tolerance policy with regards to Michael Vick’s case. Even if this incident wasn’t Vick’s fault or wrongdoing, the fact is that athletes are constantly putting themselves in situations where they are almost asking for trouble. As Colin Cowherd says, “nothing good ever happens at 2 in the morning.”

It would seem like it is about time that these players start to shape up and get with the program? Sure doesn’t look like it to me. I think that the small percentage of professional athletes that get in the news for their off the field altercations are always going to be around and that is something that is not going to change.

You would think that these people would learn from their own but also from watching the mistakes made by other athletes. I always wonder why they don’t learn, but what I think many of us fail to consider, is that change is not as easy as it looks or sounds. My question is whether these athletes are mentally capable of stopping themselves. This is not an attack on these athletes’ intelligence, rather it is a question of overcoming inborn personality traits and characteristics that lead them in the direction of their oblivious decision making.

It is mind boggling to see professional athletes willingly throw away fame and fortune.

If you are over the age of 15 I am sure you have heard a bit about the Nature vs. Nurture debate. Well, I’m a big believer that nature prevails in most situations. There is no doubt that nurture plays a fairly large part in the development of a person but in the end you cannot change who you are. You may be able to change your appearance to society and those around you, but in the end your true colours will eventually triumph. Just ask Tiger Woods.

Adam “Pacman” Jones is a prime example of a talented athlete who was given repeated opportunities to reconcile but decided not to take advantage of them. Jones’ legacy could very well end up being the professional athlete that couldn’t get away from strip clubs.

Pacman was drafted 6th overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2005 NFL draft but missed most of training camp due to a contract dispute. Apparently the Titans were concerned with several off the field incidents that happened shortly after the draft. This included a fight that put him on probation.

Then in April of 2007, after Pacman’s breakout sophomore season, he was suspended one year for numerous off-field altercations. In 2008 was traded to Dallas where during the season he was suspended for four games because of a dispute with his bodyguard. Later, in January of 2009, the Cowboys announced they would release Jones after officials learned that he was a suspect in a June 2007 shooting outside a Las Vegas strip club.

Pacman was given more than enough opportunities to succeed and leave himself financially set for the rest of his life but against better judgement he decided to take a different route.

Needless to say, but Ben Roethlisberger drinks like a champion

Another star who has had a number of incidents is Big Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has had not one but two incidents involving women who have accused him of sexual assault. As an observer from the outside you figure one time isn’t so bad, it could just be a crazy woman looking for some attention. However, when you hear the same allegations twice you do not give the same leeway to a person. Roethlisberger will be suspended for the first six games of the upcoming NFL season. Big Ben is also well known for his hard partying ways.

The jury is still out on Ben Roethlisberger as he already has two super bowls to his name despite his problems off the field.

One other guy I want to mention is Tennessee Titan quarterback Vince Young who has also had a number of issues off the field. Despite some of his early on-field success, Young went missing for a bit in 2008 because he was upset over being booed by Titan fans and spraining his left MCL in his knee. Young almost lost his job but was kept on and had a nice little comeback season last year after being reinstated as the team’s starting quarterback. But this past offseason Vince Young got into a fight at a nightclub with a person who allegedly made some derogatory remarks about his alma mater Texas Longhorns.

So yet again, just when it looked like Vince Young was turning the corner and becoming more mature he, like so many others, regressed back to his old ways.

Yes it is true that maybe Vince Young was provoked. Maybe Michael Vick didn’t do anything wrong at his own birthday bash. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger did not rape these women. Maybe Pacman was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t buy any of those maybe’s but even if they aren’t true there is no denying the fact that these players are putting themselves in a position to get in trouble. Is it really that hard to avoid a nightclub or a strip club. It’s great to have fun but why would you ever risk all the things that you have worked so hard for in your life just for a bit of entertainment?

They all talk the talk and say that they are going to rescind their old reckless ways, but walking the walk is a whole other beast.

Why the —- is Michael Vick going to a nightclub for his birthday. When you’re under the kind of scrutiny that Michael Vick is under it is completely nonsensical to do that.

Is it that these guys think that they’re stars and feel invincible?


But as I said earlier I think that it is more to do with athletes unable to resist. Unable to resist the temptations of being a star, the spotlight, and everything else that the life of a professional athlete has to offer. I think that they are people who live off the adrenaline of life. It is who they are and it is how they get to the top of their profession. They can’t force themselves to make the smart decision.

Michael Vick, Adam “Pacman” Jones, Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Young, Tiger Woods, Plaxico Burress, the list goes on. If you’re asking yourself when will they ever learn?

The simple answer is probably never.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

Also check out howiGit’s blog, a guaranteed great read every time.

About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

20 Responses to When will they ever learn?

  1. Chappy81 says:

    I think it goes back to why 90% of athlete’s in the NBA go broke and live paycheck to paycheck throughout most of their careers. They just get bad advice from others, and since we coddle them so much for their on field success they’re much more likely to be like Vick than someone like Tebow… I mean who in any players entourage is going to say no don’t do that when the “star” is the one picking up the check. I have a feeling that athlete’s got into just as much trouble before, but now that we have TMZSports it’s just pushed in our faces more than ever. There is no privacy for athletes to do whatever they want, unless they travel abroad. Even then people find out about stuff like the imfamous Vikings party boat…

    Did you see that 30 for 30 on OJ? I think the filmmaker was right that was the start of the reality TV era, and now we follow our athletes not just on the field but off the field closer than ever…

  2. thesportsbrain1 says:

    Chris Ross-
    These are excellent articles and very in depth. I can see the obvious amounts of research. Small suggestion – in between these long articles you might want to have short posts that update all the time — snippets and rumors from around the sports. Any suggestions on my blog would be appreciated. good work!


  3. hamerdinger says:

    Nice summary. I gave up on pro baseball in 1994 after the strike. The Vick thing and how the National Felon League treated Limbaugh’s attempt to buy in interest in the St. Rams convinced me to add pro football to the list. I have never even bothered with pro basketbrawl. The funny thing I love all three sports and have played and coached them at various levels.

    Keep up the good work

  4. Great post Chris.
    I believe the main problem is that none of these athletes really no how to handle fame & fortune too well. The majority of them are young kids that just happened get lucky and obtain a lucrative contract of some sorts. There needs to be a mandatory class to teach these kids how to manage their fame and fortune. One of the lessons should be that once you’re in the public eye, you can’t do the same things nor hang with the same people you used.
    Creating wealth and living a successful life takes time and hard work, it is this way because through the process we are being taught how to be good stewards and look after money. But when you take a kid that was broke on Monday and then give him success on Tuesday it is too much to handle and is a recipe for disaster if they have no training on how to be good stewards of their wealth.

  5. Great post, I enjoyed reading. I definitely agree with you, when is this going to stop? Never. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy – young kids see these guys on TV with their “bad boy” image and say, I want to be like them. These athletes clearly don’t have the right people surrounding them and giving them advice. For guys like Big Ben, they have some sense of entitlement that they can go around to bars and clubs and when they don’t get what they want, they use the “Do you know who I am?” line.

    And in the case of Vick, I actually thought he was turning the corner with Tony Dungy as his mentor. Heck, didn’t he win a courage award from his teammates this past season? Clearly, he is still hanging around the wrong crowd (his brother included) and getting in situations he knows he shouldn’t be in. It’s a shame for these guys to waste all their raw talent by making stupid decisions.
    Thanks for the read, and keep up the good work with your blog!

    Eric Feinstein

  6. thesikone says:

    glad you liked our blog watdadickens!!!
    now for your post.
    Ok, this is extremely well-written and obviously very thought-out. It is so painful to watch these guys throw away reputation and money for basically nothing. When it comes to many athletes who go bankrupt just a few years after they retire is pretty ridiculous. Some may say it’s just their lifestyle and they’re accustomed to spend money like that. But seriously? You go bankrupt after you were just earning millions per year? And with athletes who get in the public eye for the wrong reasons, it’s time to grow up. It’s true that most of these guys are under a telescope and anything they do gets put on blast, but you have got to realize when you have a problem. I think they’re taking what they have for granted. Many people dream to be a pro athlete and some of these guys just don’t give a crap. Sure some have talent, but come on look at the position you’re in, you have it made!!!
    I don’t think these guys will ever learn. But at the same time, I don’t think suspending them for EVERYTHING as Roger Goddell does now helps either. I don’t know if we need even harsher punishments but also look at Vick. He was out for basically 2 seasons(i may be off, i forget) but here is in the public eye again…

  7. Chris,
    It appears we share the same philosophy, though based on my background both as a diversity officer, television reporter, image consultant, and child of supremely strict, almost smothering parents, I put the bulk of the blame on nurture, not nature. I’ve seen what an environment filled with people who are undereducated and have not been taught to appreciate the value of education, life, or property can do to a person. They don’t even realize the rules they hold to be true, are not the rules of the rest of the world.
    I think this is a great, thought provoking post, and hope to continue our dialogue moving forward. My clients include athletes (college and pro), coaches, and executives. And the level of understanding, expecation, and deductive reasoning skills vary based on their parental influences, not the socioeconomic status, age, race, or gender. One day, I’ll have to put all of my observations in a book. For now, I will just blog along the way, and coach the clients the best I can.

  8. mikeburks says:

    Good blog

  9. st8te says:

    Mike Vick: keepin it real, a more satirical lok at his latest incident


  10. Thank you for the visit 🙂

    Great post! I also think that instead of getting rid of the people that most likely don’t have their best interests at heart, athletes keep these people around for fear of “selling out” or to simply feed their ego. As much as athletes/celebrities like to talk about being grounded, as another reply mentioned, they are used to being coddled. And for athletes who were probably told that they were the best from a young age, it’s hard for them to admit when they’re messing up. I think the ego that propels them to be the best also leads to their downfall.

  11. howigit says:

    I hate to be short, but the answer is NO, they will never learn.

  12. Great article and very ery detailed. You see this a lot in sports when athletes in sports don’t know how to handle themselves. This is a big trend in major sports.

  13. matthewhovey says:

    Good lens through which to view the issue. There is probably an element of nature involved. We probably all start off being selfish and self-absorbed. Those are two qualities driving these athletes. I’d argue, however, that the source of the problem is nurture… or, more appropriately, lack of nurturing. Regardless of whether these athletes come from the projects or wealth, they all attend a high school where they’re essentially rock stars and then move on to college where their status is only increased. No one tells them no. Everybody wants them on their team because winning = money and success. Then they move on to professional sports where they make incomprehensible amounts of money. That money generates popularity, women, and a sense of entitlement. Everyone fears telling these guys what they don’t want to hear (but desperately need to hear) because they’re afraid of getting cut-off from the “good life.” As a result, in my opinion, its nurture for these guys. Not enough people teaching them that eventually there are consequences to their actions.

  14. djepperson says:

    I agree with your thoughts here, along with the comments. I’d even extend the thought process out a little bit and say that it’s not just athletes who seem to run into this kind of patterns, but movie stars, politicians, musicians, etc.

    I remember in Tiger’s apology, he mentioned that he felt entitled to live however he’d like. Along with that, I bet you that with a lot of the people you mention here, the majority of people around them will generally let them get away with whatever they want. You have to wonder the last time these guys heard the word ‘No.’

  15. Southern Dyme says:

    Also look at Terrell Owens. He has been criticized for his arrogance, and the way he interacts with media, players, coaches etc. He has always been one of my favorites despite that. But it wasn’t until I watched his reality show did I realize how he grew up. It was so sad to learn his dad lived right ACROSS the street and never once acknowledged that he was his dad. That is so hard for me to grasp. He had a crush on his own sister and that’s when they told him. Knowing that your own mother knew the whereabouts of your father and never told you must be devastating to live with daily. So you don’t know what these athletes have endured. (your Nature vs. Nurture). I think it also has a lot to do with their contribution to their teams. The ‘franchise players’ get away with a lot more, or it’s swept under the rug altogether. How soon we forget about Kobe, Paul Pierce getting stabbed at that nightclub-where he shouldn’t have been, Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin, the list goes on. Chris Henry and Steve McNair come to mind too. I don’t know if they will ever learn. Vick has money to rent a venue (not a club) and have a nice, classy event where he wouldn’t have to worry about ex-cons wandering around. But they don’t have that mindset. Do they even know how to have a classy event? I also think their significant others should have enough sense to not allow their men to jeopardize their (and their kids) futures for a night of partying. The more successful athletes are the ones who cut ALL ties with their past. Also known as the ‘sell-outs’, but who cares. The leagues, (NBA, NFL) should require some kind of mentor, life coach or something assigned to new players especially younger one to help them make the transition to the new lifestyle. If they can’t comply, fire them. I did enjoy your post and I’m about to check out some more of them. Sports is my second love so I’m sure I will enjoy them. Peace.

  16. sam49 says:

    Great post, and thanks for commenting on my blog!
    We have the same position on the situation with these athletes with targets on their backs. There is no legitimate reason for them to get into the spotlight like they’ve been in, especially more than once. No matter how much nurture may be involved with this, Vick should have been smarter than this. When you have a target on your back, you’re not going to stand out in the middle of the street and get shot. You’re going to hide and protect yourself until the threat is over. Until Vick gets out of the NFL, he needs to stay away from these potential problems. Unfortunately, he may not have to worry about it much longer.

  17. lnkujawa says:

    I don’t think these athletes will ever learn because not only have they not felt serious repercussions for their actions, but they don’t regret their actions. I don’t know if it’s because they think that they’re automatically going to be forgiven due to their star statuses, or that they actually do have some sort of mental defect that allows them to think of their actions as kosher, but plain and simple – they just don’t care. It’s sad to think that kids now are growing up with role models like this. Granted, I grew up in the era of O.J., but that was an extreme case. Now, it’s hard to go a day without some all-star athlete making news for some new scandal. My opinion on this: the associations that they compete for need to come down harder on these rebel athletes. The NFL, the PGA, the NBA, etc… they all work so hard to create and maintain positive images, and they are willing to let all that work go to waste for a couple of athletes who could care less about their lives, their careers, and the organizations they play for? Come on! Can these disrespectful athletes! I’m sure comparable athletes who have better respect for image management could easily be found as replacements.

  18. ashbloom16 says:

    I think Michael Vick’s main issue was thinking that he owed something to the boys back n the hood after he started playing for the Hawks. He should have left his brother and his dog-fighting friends alone and he possibly would have been fine. The fact that shots rang out only minutes after he left the club is suspicious to me. I guess nature does prevail over nurture and you just can’t change a dog.

  19. ashbloom16 says:

    BTW, thanks for commenting on my blog!

  20. GridIron 360 says:

    Chris, I love your work. I have a twitter account also, but I like to traffic everything through the replies on wordpress. Call me old school. It’s easier for me to monitor one website versus two.

    Here are my thoughts on your article. You can take the Cowboy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the cowboy.

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