Speed Kills!

Deshan Jackson, Speed Burner

Reflections on the “New Meadowlands Miracle”

For the many thousand fans who abandoned their television sets at the beginning of the fourth quarter of the Giants/Eagles game last Sunday – an important contest for the top position in the NFC East with serious playoff implications – the subsequent news about the Philadelphia victory must have come as a big shock.  For three quarters of the game the Giants dominated the Eagles – dogged them really.  Everything was going their way. It seemed the perfectly planned game, and everything was working out just like the offensive coaches drew the plays up on the black board.  Football is a game of complex strategies, and when they click we see spectacular feats on the field.

The giants did everything right and the score showed it.  Their defense had not only bottled up and contained the Eagle’s quarterback Michael Vick – an athlete who is so gifted running and throwing the ball that he gives defensive coordinators and even head coaches heartburn – but their offense had scored repeatedly. Eli, the Giant’s Super Bowl winning quarterback, had a banner day – equaling his all time best performance by throwing four touchdown passes!  For Giant’s fans it seem that God was sitting on his throne in Heaven and all was right with the world.

Ironically both Manning brothers, Payton and Eli, were playing critical games in their division, and both were competing against black quarterbacks.  Although they were born and raised in the Deep South, I really don’t think this fact crossed their minds.  Which is as powerful a statement about the changes in race relations in the US over the past 50 years as one is likely to find.   Payton was handling his business with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Eli was humiliating the Eagles much vaunted defense.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter the Giants were up by three touchdowns on the Eagles.  It seemed a done deal.  How could the Eagles come back from such a sound thrashing?  I was getting ready to go out to the theater, and had conceded the game to the Giants – which was a big drag!  Although I am a devoted New Yorker I am also a do or die Philly fan; especially nowadays when the magnificent Michael Vick is running the team.

Due to the fact that I grew up and played football in an era where the conventional wisdom was that no black athlete had the combination of intelligence, calm and athletic skill to play the quarterback position – although they were playing the position spectacularly all around me in the all black high schools and colleges of the South – I am partial to teams with black quarterbacks.

This is becoming harder and harder to pull off however, because black quarterbacks are becoming ubiquitous in the NFL.  And when you look at the major college ranks – which is the pipeline for the National football League – it seems fairly certain that there will soon be more star black quarter backs running professional teams.  For instance, both teams that will be playing for the much coveted National Collegiate Championship in a few weeks – Auburn and Oregon universities – will be led by black   quarterbacks.  Auburn’s quarterback, Cam Newton, is having a better college career than Michael Vick.  And Vick was off the chain as a college player.  But then, Newton is not only fast like Vick, and is the leading rusher on his team, he is also six foot six and weights 250 pounds!   And he’s just a kid…he could get bigger.

Hence it is safe to say that we are witnessing the dawn of the era of the black quarterback.  And the model for a uniquely black approach to the quarterback position is Michael Vick.  I say this because Vick has the kind of talents that are characteristic of the most gifted black athletes…especially his world class speed.  When coupled with his rifle-like arm, which enables him to throw the ball 70 yards in the air with uncanny accuracy, Vick becomes the most dangerous weapon in professional football.

This explains what happened to the giants on Sunday; they found themselves competing with Superman!  At some point during the last quarter it was like Mike said “fuck this!” and just dominated the game whenever the defense put the ball in his hands. With eight minutes to go the Eagles scored an amazing 28 points against the second best defense in the NFL.  It was a magical, mystical, unbelievable experience. During this period Vick passed for two touchdowns and ran for one. But the touchdowns were made possible by several spectacular runs – some on Third and Long – by Vick to keep the drive alive.  As the points began to pile up I could hardly believe what I was witnessing – I thought my lying eyes were playing tricks on me.   It was the single most impressive performance that I have ever seen at the quarterback position!

 

Mike the Magnificent!

Elevating The Game!

Hence it is unfair the way the Giants and their coach are being pillored in the press this morning.  In big bold headlines their hometown newspapers are accusing them of dogging it…choking…falling apart when the chips were down. These headline writers – who are probably fat boys that never played a down of football.  All day long I have listened to the sports pundits cum football “experts” with tedious explanations for what happened, how the giants blew that game with such a formidable lead in the final minutes of the game.

Much of this discourse sounds more surreal than the actual events they are describing.  Their commentary is inspired by the famous quote from the former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.  Who was supposed to have said “Winning is the only thing!”  I have long blamed Lombardi for profaning the noble ideal of sports competition, because it nullifies the character building aspects that justifies all the time and money we expend teaching children to play these games.  The idea is to win with magnanimity and lose with grace.

It is the polar opposite of the ethics of war, where all is fair and you are out to kill your opponent!  However these armchair quarterbacks in the media need to watch the latest HBO documentary on the Coach Lombardi.  He says that he never said that and he considers it to be the worst thing ever associated with his football legacy!  It is time for the verbose sports wags to learn this lesson and adjust their attitudes accordingly.  Nobody had any reason to hang their heads in shame after Sunday’s game.

The giants were valiant gridiron warriors; but they were up against a force of nature. Former Super bowl winning quarterback and perceptive sports analyst Trent Dilfer put it best: “Michael Vick can do things no other human being can do. He is indefensible!”  While Mike tied the game, his favorite receiver Deshan Jackson – who may be even faster than him – put the nail in the Giants coffin with a 65 yard punt return in the final twelve seconds of the game.  They shocked the world.  The lessons here are: It ain’t over til it’s over…and speed kills!

 

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Anatomy Of A Miracle

 

The Rocket Takes Off

 

 

The Giant’s Coaches Were Shocked!

 

Dadgumit!  Foiled Again!  Says Giant’s Head Coach.

 

Miles Ahead!

He Raised the Ball in Victory at the 30 yard line: Supreme Confidence

 

Victory!

A Great Showman Strutting His Stuff In the End Zone

 

 

Gettin Dap From His Dogs!

Party Time!

 

 

The State Of the Art at Wideout!

 

The Answer to all Defensive Schemes!

 

 

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

December 20, 2010

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