So amid all the clamor and mayhem that was this glorious, magnificent Saturday, Ohio State managed to not screw up beat Navy by the skin of their teeth (by skin of their teeth I mean Pick Two). Amidst all the post-game business has emerged a new, fun story that is sure to cheer everyone up and offend none. That story has nothing to do with sportsmanship weekend and everything to do with Terrelle Pryor’s eye black.
We’ve discussed this all a bit in today’s WWW but given the comments I thought I’d write up my thoughts on the whole situation (note: these are my thoughts, not anybody else involved with the site so leave the wrath/praise for me). Brief recap: In Saturday’s game against Navy, Terrelle Pryor put the word “Vick” on his eye black (“Mika” is his sister’s nickname). As far as I know, he still had it on in the second half. He had a very questionable quote after the game, saying “Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world. I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick, and I always will.”
So it’s pretty clear that a few things happened. 1) LiC decided to show support for one of his childhood heroes, Vick. 2) He didn’t prepare himself as well as he should have for the postage interviews – it had to be obvious that SOMEBODY would ask him about the eye black. 3) When asked about it, he flummoxed a bit and didn’t quite make the exact quote that he should have.
After the fact, there was one comment left in our OSU/Navy open thread taking offense to this show of support by Pryor, and declaring an abstention from the Buckeyes for the rest of the season. To this, I say: What -
Pryor made a somewhat controversial statement in supporting Vick, to be sure. And honestly, it wasn’t smart. But he’s an adult and can do as he wishes. While many folks will deride this and scream bloody murder (which is what happened to Vick’s dogs, I very much realize), he’s allowed to say what he wants (see: Amendment, First). I’m sure there are clauses in his scholarship agreement that bar being extremely controversial, but he hasn’t even started to go there. It’s not like he went all Clinton Portis on us.
As a side note: yes, I realize that Vick did deplorable things. He’s also been tried by a jury, sentenced, and has done his time. He’s gone bankrupt based on his court sentencing. He has earned his way back on to an NFL roster, and has seemingly reformed. While it may not seem fair that he’s back to earning a multi-million dollar paycheck, we hear all the time that our country is a land of second chances – so let’s let the man have his.
Another issue that people may have is the following: Pryor is the starting quarterback at the largest public state university in Ohio, and thus is a public figure who is out to represent the University and the State of Ohio. As such, it can be said he ought not to do anything to draw ire towards the places that he represents. So I assume the argument here would be the following – he is the face of a large entity that is state-funded, therefore he should not be using his status as the quarterback to push any sort of personal platform that can be seen as controversial.
If this is the issue, then we ought to look at writing messages on eye black in general. Mainly, the placement of scripture passages on eye black. If athletes aren’t to make controversial statements, why should they be allowed to place scripture on themselves - If they’re at a state-funded university, they should have to respect separation of church and state. If this argument does not hold in the case of bible passages, then surely Pryor should be allowed to freely write the word “Vick” on his eye black.
Many will argue that scripture passages are benign and should be allowed – but there are plenty of people in this country who do not have Christian religious beliefs and that would take offense at a player using his “podium” as a collegiate athlete to push their beliefs on others. Look, I realize that the difference between the two scenarios that I just wrote is sizable – and I’m not sure how much I believe it myself. I realize that it probably sounds absurd to say that scripture should be banned if we call to ban “controversial” messages. But the hypersensitivity and hypocrisy involved in getting all offended by Pryor’s support of a childhood hero but not other eye black messages is glaring. Paramount to the whole argument is this fact: we have a right to free speech in this country, granted by the First Amendment of the Constitution – the very same Amendment that calls for separation of church and state.
So if you’re going to boycott the Buckeyes because of one player on the roster of 100, I expect you to follow through with your line of thinking across the board. I expect you to go and find every single athlete that has voiced support for Vick in the past three years and boycott their team as well. I expect you to get offended by scripture being used on the faces on athletes at public institutions, and boycott them as well. At the very least, I expect to see you at 15th and High in Columbus with the rest of the nutjobs protesting this horrible, horrible travesty of a situation.
Edit 9/8/09 1:45 PM -
Per a number of Twitter reports from Tressel’s Tuesday Presser - Tressel does not condemn Pryor’s wearing “Vick” on eyeblack patch, nor does he plan to limit players expression in the future …Tressel says Pryor never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings with Vick eyeblack
Two consolidated tweets from: Twitter.com/marcushartman
I’m interested in having discussion about this with everybody, but let’s remember our commenting policy and keep it civil.
(Photo Credit: Sports By Brooks)