Life lessons from... Michael Vick?

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
4:46
PM ET
Ashley Fox's latest column touches on our division, which is no real surprise because our division is so clearly the best one. But it also touches on the news of the week, which unfortunately has been Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and his arrest on a domestic violence charge. In a week that has seen that arrest, plus added Marshawn Lynch to the list of NFL players arrested for DUI, Ashley finds herself pondering the upcoming autobiography of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and suggests that it should be required reading for Vick's fellow NFL players:
Vick
Vick's voice, given where he came from and what he endured, is powerful. It carries weight, particularly with guys in their 20s playing in the NFL who have watched him since they were kids. Vick spoke at the rookie symposium this year. It was a natural fit.

But the league should buy copies of Vick's book and distribute them to all of its players, rookies and veterans. Get a copy in the hands of Bryant, Marshawn Lynch, Elvis Dumervil and the others who have run afoul of the law this offseason. Make sure they read it so they can see that their decisions, good and bad, have consequences.

Maybe it will help wake them up and realize that this game can be taken away from them, and that being in the NFL is a special opportunity not to be wasted by making bad decisions.

I like Ashley's premise, as crazy as it may sound when you first hear it. In the case of Bryant, given his track record of bad decisions, it's likely going to take something weird and unexpected to jolt him out of his current behavior patterns and make him realize he has adult responsibilities. Undoubtedly, the idea of Vick giving advice on how to live your life and stay out of trouble can qualify as weird and unexpected.

But it's a fact that Vick is a perfect example for athletes who get in trouble and want to avoid getting in trouble again. He's carried himself exactly the way he's supposed to carry himself since he got out of prison, and he seems to be a guy who's been changed by his self-inflicted traumatic life experience.

If it hasn't yet occured to Bryant that the choices he makes and the situations in which he puts himself when he's away from the field could jeopardize his football career, he'd do well to look at Vick. If Bryant thinks his talent alone will keep his career afloat no matter what kind of trouble he gets himself into, he should watch tape of Vick's final season at Virginia Tech. As great as Bryant is, Vick was better -- maybe as purely talented and electric as any player who's ever come into the league. And he lost two years out of the middle of his career for making stupid, inexcusable, criminal decisions. That means it could happen to anyone. And that's worth Bryant's attention, and Lynch's attention, and the attention of a lot of NFL players who just can't seem to stay out of trouble during the times of the year when there's nothing to do.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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