November 23, 2010 Leave a comment
Everybody deserves a second chance. Life may not offer many second chances, but when you get them, carpe diem!
Sports may be the best avenue to re-prove yourself to your team, your fans, and yourself. It seems like everyday there is a new athlete involved in a scandal. This has become so out of control when I turn on SportsCenter, I feel like I’m watching an episode of TMZ. No, I don’t care what Brett Favre had for breakfast Wednesday morning, nor do I care who divorced whom and married whom. That isn’t why I watch sports. I’m not one to judge an athlete based on his off-field activity, but rather on his on-the-field performance. But sadly, I think I am the minority.
Nowadays, some fans are forming their opinions of athletes based on what they do in their off time. I have no problem with this, but these fans are the ones that rarely even watch sports. This is a problem. Living in the great country of America, a second chance is practically written in the constitution. “Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!” After all, the American public are very forgiving. In this “What-have-you-done-for-me-lately” society, sports fan are always looking for a reason to forgive. If you win, people forget. It’s that simple. Look at Kobe, look at Jordan, heck even A-Rod! But if you fail to win, LOOK OUT! (See Wade Phillips, Brad Childress, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, or Brett Favre).
Take Michael Vick for example. Yes, he may have done some terrible things, but he served his time and is back and better than ever. Let me be the first to tell you, I have always been a fan of Mike Vick; the guy’s talents are simply amazing. Ever since his breakout season in 2003, Michael Vick has always been one of the most electrifying players in the National Football League. Vick’s talents were still raw in Atlanta, and he was never mature enough to understand all the intangibles that are needed to play quarterback in the NFL. Sure, there are many athletes out there with Vick’s arm or Vick’s speed, but through experience and maturity, Vick is finally able to harness his power. This is pretty scary considering a raw Michael Vick took a weak Falcons team to the 2003 NFC Championship game. Vick’s uncanny ability to scramble better than any quarterback EVER, is a huge disadvantage for the opposing defense. Instead of accounting for all 11 players on offense, they must account for 12 (Vick’s speed). It’s not everyday you see two defensive players strictly guarding the quarterback. With the endless talents of Michael Vick, he is primed to be something special. After a brief quarterback conflict at the beginning of the season, Michael Vick is in the driver’s seat for NFL MVP and may have Philadelphia in a collision course to the Super Bowl. And credit the Eagles for giving Michael Vick his second chance… not many teams were willing to do the same.
Speaking of second chance MVPs, Josh Hamilton was awarded the AL MVP for the first time this afternoon. For those who aren’t aware of Hamilton’s comeback story, let me give you a brief refresher course. Touted as the most talented high school baseball player in recent memory, Hamilton was selected first overall in 1999 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. A few years later, Hamilton was involved in a car accident, which inevitably sent him into drug rehab. After more and more failed drug tests, Hamilton embarked on a three-year hiatus from baseball (2003-2006) to get his life together. Four years later, he becomes the American League MVP. And the rest is history.
A quick tangent on Josh Hamilton’s historic season. As you may have already known, I am a Texas Rangers fan and this news brought joy to me as much as anybody else. Not since the days of Pudge Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez had the Rangers had a power hitter of Hamilton’s caliber. In fact, Josh Hamilton may be the best Rangers hitter of all time. Hitting an outstanding .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBI’s, it’s hard to believe Hamilton only played in 133 games. To go even further, Hamilton led the MLB in slugging percentage and in OPS (on-base plus slugging). Who knows what would have happened if his injury hadn’t kept him out of games. But I do know one thing for sure; there is no way the Texas Rangers would have made it into the World Series without Hamilton’s power bat in the lineup.
A second chance always serves for a great “feel-good” story. In fact, just the other day I watched the Marcus Dupree 30 for 30 documentary, “The Best There Never Was”, (highly recommended by the way). Widely regarded as the best high school running back of all time, his career came to a halt when a knee injury ended his rookie USFL season. With hard work and determination, Marcus Dupree was able to do the impossible… play in the NFL. While he wasn’t performing to the best of his ability, he was able to overcome all odds and fulfill his dream…quite a Hollywood story in fact. Who knows? Maybe sooner or later there will be a Josh Hamilton or Michael Vick biopic.
Michael Vick and Josh Hamilton’s hiatus from professional sports may have been just the outlet they needed to get their head on straight. To come back after a multi-year hiatus from professional sports and be even half as good as before takes character. But to come back and contend for MVPs, World Series titles, and Super Bowls takes something special.
We are all grateful to witness the great talents of these superstars a second time around. Josh Hamilton and Michael Vick are just a few superstars that prove that second chances do pay off.