Sports

Football Watch

Michael Vick's dramatic comeback year

Arian Foster shown here in his Week 1 breakout performance against the Colts
Arian Foster shown here in his Week 1 breakout performance against the Colts (Photo courtesy of Matt Holman)

I had already decided to make Michael Vick the focal point of this week's column before I heard of Tucker Carlson's ridiculous statement that Vick "should have been executed" for being involved in the dogfighting ring that landed him in federal prison for 21 months followed by two months of home confinement. Vick filed for bankruptcy in July 2008. Carlson's statement was in response to Barack Obama praising the Eagles for giving the convicted felon another chance once released from prison.

Vick has the dubious honor of being even more polarizing than Kanye West. And like West, his talent is often overshadowed by his controversial image. Which is a shame for those missing out on the amazing talents of these brilliant entertainers (football is entertainment) who are each at the zenith of his respective vocation.

I shouldn't even have to point out the obviousness of this, but let's state for the record that Michael Vick's involvement with the Bad Newz Kennels, which he funded and took part in, is reprehensible. I am a dog lover to the nth degree and my dog, Pancho, means the world to me. Saying he's my best friend is an understatement. There is no excuse for Vick's treatment of these poor dogs, and he is going to have to live with this on his conscience till the day he dies, or at least goes senile, and that's not to mention the time he lost in jail.

I don't think people need to forgive Mike Vick, but they do need to acknowledge that the man was convicted of a federal felony, served the length of time in jail that our justice system felt appropriate, and now deserves a chance to make a living at what he's skilled at and trained for, which is playing American football. If you feel the penalty is not strong enough, the laws need to be changed. Shouldn't felons be given the chance to earn an honest living after release as opposed to turning to crime to feed their families? If he were a tow-truck driver, would people insist he not be allowed to drive a tow truck? The answer is no, because people would have no idea who the fuck he was.

Apparently NFL coaches, players, and fans don't agree with Tucker Carlson, because just this last Tuesday Vick was voted in as the NFC's starting quarterback for the 2011 Pro Bowl. It was not that long ago that some analysts were predicting that Vick's days in the NFL were over; now there's talk of him being league MVP. Most certainly comeback player of the year. And can you think of a more dramatic comeback than Vick's? Aside from sexual abuse, child abuse, and homicide, animal abuse has to be one of the most deplorable acts in the eyes of our society and in mine. But the man served his time, and now he deserves a chance to right his wrongs and maybe entertain us fickle Americans while he's at it.

And really, the death penalty? What an idiot. And believe me when I tell you my feelings on this subject aren't very popular with even my closest friends, but I know what's right, and I know what's wrong. And not allowing a convicted felon, once released, to work in the profession he has trained for his entire life is wrong. Never mind executing him.

Changing subject: While being thrilled the Houston Texans' standout running back Arian Foster (who is the NFL's leading rusher) made the AFC Pro Bowl roster, I'm a little disappointed he isn't a starter. With all due respect to the man who was chosen as starter (Maurice Jones-Drew), let's compare their stats and let the numbers do the talking.

Foster: 1,436 yards rushing (leads NFL), 4.9 yards per attempt, 16 touchdowns (leads NFL), 64 receptions, 594 receiving yards, and two fumbles lost.

MJD: 1,324 yards rushing, 4.4 yards per attempt, 7 touchdowns, 34 receptions, 317 receiving yards, and two fumbles lost.

The numbers don't lie.

Area Bars and the Football Teams/Fans They Cater To:

Aussie's catered to Browns fans last year but is focusing more on the Texans and Cowboys this season. 306 Barton Springs Rd., 480-0952.

Bagpipes Pub & Eatery supplies the setting for Alabama Crimson Tide football fans. 9070 Research, 467-8700.

B.D. Riley's Irish Pub is the place to go if you're a fan of Tom Brady's tresses or his football team, the New England Patriots. Fittingly, the pub is also home for Notre Dame games. 204 E. Sixth, 494-1335.

Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill (both locations) is a straight-up Steelers bar. 6901 N. I-35, 454-2247; 214 E. Sixth, 469-0001.

Billy's on Burnet is the "unofficial Packers bar of Austin." 2105 Hancock, 407-9305.

Black Sheep Lodge has a good contingent of Saints, Redskins, Vikings, Texans, and Titans fans. USC and Ohio State lovers cheer on their teams on Saturdays. 2108 S. Lamar, 707-2744.

Cedar Door hosts USC and TCU supporters. Second & Brazos, 473-3712.

Cool River Cafe is the place for Nebraska Cornhuskers fans. 4001 W. Parmer, 835-0010.

Hog Island Italian Deli hosts Philadelphia Eagles watch parties. 1612 Lavaca, 482-9090.

Joe's Bar and Grill Attention Colt McCoy lovers, Joe's hosts fans of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. 506 West Ave., 473-0885.

Mangia Pizza Mesa is the official home for Auburn football. 8012 Mesa, 349-2126.

Pluckers North Austin is the official home of the Arkansas Razorbacks. 9070 Research, 533-9464.

Pluckers South Lamar is the official place to be for Michigan Wolverines games. 3909 S. Lamar, 443-9464.

Shoal Creek Saloon is the home of the Saints. 909 N. Lamar, 474-0805.

The Tavern sees a lot of Steelers and Ravens fans show up for NFL Sundays. 922 W. 12th, 320-8377.

Third Base Round Rock caters to Giants, Chargers, and Steelers fans. Arkansas Razorbacks lovers meet there on Saturdays. 3107 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/388-2273.

Third Base Southpark Meadows is the place to be for Saints, Vikings, and Steelers supporters. In the NCAA, it's Oregon State, Minnesota, and Texas Tech territory. 9600 S. I-35, 381-2273.

Third Base Downtown has a good following for the Texans, Saints, and Vikings and generally a "pretty mixed" crowd. As far as college goes, it's the official home for Illinois Fighting Illini and Florida Gators fans, as well as followers of Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Kansas. 1717 W. Sixth, 476-2273.

The Warehouse Saloon & Billiards sees a lot of Vikings fans, among others. I've also heard Dolphins and Bears fans have been known to congregate there. 509 E. Ben White, 443-8799.

Weirdos is a Chargers bar. 12408 MoPac N., 291-6703.

Hit me up at gameplans@austinchronicle with additional info.

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