Thursday, June 22, 2000
by Will Stewart, HokieCentral.com

Chasing Michael Vick

It's amazing the way some people bad-mouth Internet web sites, saying that they're rumor mills while blindly assuming that the "traditional" media, primarily TV and newspapers, are more correct and reliable. In the case of the Michael-Vick-to-the-Rockies saga, the stories that have appeared in the media in the last week are incredibly contradictory.

It may interest you to know, though, that some or all of the misdirection appeared to come from Michael Vick himself. After all, he is the master of cutting on a dime and slipping through people's grasp.

When the Rockies drafted Vick in the 30th round, it was seen as a publicity stunt, but over the course of last weekend, it appeared that it might be developing into more than that. Multiple stories that Vick was going to meet with the Rockies started surfacing in print, on the AP wire, and on TV. And the amount of conflicting information that was passed around in those stories is remarkable.

It all started with a Monday, June 12th article on RockyMountainNews.com that reported that Vick himself had said that Rockies scout Jay Matthews "will go to Vick's home in Newport News, Va., to meet with Vick and his mother."

Four days later, on Friday, June 16th, an ESPN.com article had a quote from Vick, saying, "I'll have to sit down with the guys and see what they have to offer." That same story, with the same quote, was picked up by CNNSI.com, which reported that "Vick said he will meet this weekend with Rockies representatives."

Also on Friday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Mike Harris wrote an article in which he said, "Vick left Blacksburg this morning to drive home to Newport News, where he and his mother will meet this weekend with Rockies representatives Danny Montgomery and Jay Matthews."

That same day, Channel 10's Justin Ditmore echoed the story that Vick was meeting with the Rockies, but over on Channel 7, Steve Mason had a different story, saying that the reports were not true: "Sports information staff at Tech say Vick knew nothing about a meeting with the Rockies," Mason reported, "but that at some time in the future he would sit down with them. Vick released a statement yesterday saying, 'I'm not really thinking about baseball right now but, I'll have to sit down with the Rockies and see what they have to offer. If I do decide to play baseball, it would have to be in a way where it didn't interfere with football because that's my number one priority right now.' Vick could not be reached for comment today. He has gone home to Newport News for a family wedding."

So, was he meeting with them or not? Hearing of the report on Channel 7, Mike Harris of the RT-D dropped me a quick email that said, "I'd love to know the Virginia Tech official who told Ch. 7 that the meeting wasn't happening, because a Tech official told me it was, and it was confirmed by Vick himself." Harris had done his homework and insisted that the meeting was scheduled, and the multiple quotes from Vick that appeared in other news outlets back him up. In this case, it looks like the Tech staffer that Steve Mason talked to was uninformed.

On and on the saga went. In a Saturday, June 18th column, the Roanoke Times's Jack Bogaczyk wrote, "The Colorado brass was over in Newport News on Friday, trying to coax Michael Vick into signing."

Things then quieted down for a few days, but on Tuesday, June 20th, The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Bob Lipper stirred the pot with a column that was short on facts and new information, but long on chatter and speculation, as op-ed pieces tend to be. Lipper's focus wasn't to reveal new information, but to just comment on the situation.

Finally, on Wednesday, June 21st, the Virginian-Pilot's Paul White threw yet another curve at Hokie fans with an article titled Vick not huddling with Rockies, in which he reports that Vick never met with the Rockies this past weekend and has no plans to do so this summer.

White's story contains no quotes from Vick himself, but instead, is based primarily on comments by Tommy Reamon, Vick's high school coach, mentor, and father figure. When it comes to matters concerning Vick, Reamon is as good an authority as anyone, and he said, "It's laughable. In fact, Michael was just here, and that's what we did -- laughed about it. I don't know where they got this stuff from, but there's nothing to it.''

In that same article, a Rockies official verifies that there was no meeting with Vick, and no future meeting is scheduled.

So there you have it. Anybody have any idea what just happened? Iím betting that only Vick's hairdresser knows for sure (that's a reference to a very old TV commercial, for you younger folks out there).

I pity the reporters who tried to track this story. Just when they thought they had their arms around it, it wriggled free like, well, Michael Vick in a Sugar Bowl scramble. Clint Eastwood coined a phrase for this sort of disaster, a phrase I can't repeat on a family web site, in his 1986 film "Heartbreak Ridge."

My guess is, Reamon's comments aside, Vick did indeed have a meeting scheduled with Rockies brass, a meeting that he probably canceled at the last minute. I speculate that after Vick was drafted, he got to thinking about it and decided to meet with the Rockies, but the long drive home to Newport News gave him plenty of time to think things over and decide that getting the little white pill thrown at his head at 80 or 90 miles an hour probably wasn't a good idea.

And it's also possible that the closer he got to Newport News, and the closer he got to a meeting with Reamon in which he would have to explain all this, the further Vick got away from playing baseball. Assuming this story is finally over, it appears that Vick has indeed put it to bed.

Sometimes a trip home is good. It reminds you who you are and what you're really supposed to be doing. I don't know who in Newport News got married last weekend, but they picked the perfect date. Thank you.

Follow-up: after posting this story Wednesday night, the saga took yet another turn. Vick now says he did meet with the Rockies.  See this Roanoke Times link for more details.

          

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