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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Basic Biittner: New students at the Phillips Academy

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Phillips Academy was founded by the (dis) Honorable Lawrence Phillips of the University of Nebraska, several professional football teams (located in several cities in several countries), and innumerable courtrooms and jails.

To become a distinguished fellow at "PA" , one must meet three criteria .

Candidates must :

1. Have a great deal of natural athletic ability

2. Have experienced success and fame at an early age

3. Have thrown away a college education and a probable million-dollar career as a professional athlete through one or more acts of stupidity. These acts must have occurred off the field of play, involved breaking one or more laws, and, though the person may not acknowledge it initially , are entirely the responsibility of the athlete.

Several outstanding candidates have presented themselves recently, and I present them here for your consideration:

Candidate number one is Pierre Pierce. Two years ago, Pierce was a starting guard for the Iowa Hawkeye basketball team, often leading the team in scoring. He apparently also liked to score with the ladies, and some of them were less than receptive to his attempts. Pierce was found guilty of sexual assault against a former girlfriend, kicked off the team, out of school and is currently serving time in prison. The earliest he can be released with be in November 2006.

Candidate number two is Maurice Clarett. Clarett was an outstanding running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes, leading them to a national title as a freshman in 2003. That was the last time Clarett has been in the news for anything positive. He was in academic trouble, dismissed from the team, accused alumni of providing him with numerous perks, went to court against the NFL to gain early entry, performed badly in NFL tryouts, and was cut from the Denver Broncos after he failed to impress coach Mike Shanahan. On New Year's Eve, Clarett topped himself. He was accused of robbing people at gunpoint in an alley behind a bar. He turned himself in a couple of days later, and is awaiting a court appearance.

Candidate number three is Marcus Vick, brother of Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick, and until recently the quarterback for Virginia Tech . also his brother's alma mater. Vick started his downward cycle lin September 2003, when he was suspended from the team for one game for "undisclosed reasons." In February 2004, he ws charged with four misdemeanors , one for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old girl ,and three counts for allowing several underage girls to have alcohol. He was found innocent on the first charge and guilty on the last three. Two months after that ruling, Vick was charged with reckless driving and possession of marijuana at 2:30 am. He plead guilty, was fined, had his driver's license suspended, and sentenced to 24 hours of community service, drug counseling, and random drug testing. He was also suspended from the university, and missed the entire 2004 season as a result. He was cleared to re-enroll and rejoin the team in January 2005. At a game at West Virginia on October 1, 2005, Vick was taunted by fans regarding his past behaviors and responded by making an obscene gesture to the fans. He apologized a day later. On December 17, Vick was pulled over for speeding and driving with a suspended license.

On January 2, 2006, Vick led his team to a win over Louisville in the Gator Bowl, but during play, clearly stomped on the left calf of Louisville player Elvis Dumervil. He claimed it was an accident, and that he apologized to Dumervil (on his coach's order). Dumervil says he never received an apology. Four days later, Vick is kicked off the team for his legal trouble and his unsportsmanlike conduct at the Gator Bowl. Vick announced within a couple of days that he was declaring himself eligible for the next NFL Draft. If history teaches us anything, based upon the NFL careers of Phillips and Clarett , it's unlikely Vick will succeed as a professional.

What do we make of these "Phillips Academy" members? How did they get this way? How could they throw away a dream that millions of American males would love to have the chance to fulfill? A lack of maturity would be one definite similarity among all of these young men., and one has to wonder, too, if they had a good understanding of the difference between right and wrong. Ultimately, however, it is my feeling that the determining factor which has led these young men to put themselves in their current situations is the feeling that they can do whatever they want to do because they're different from everyone else - "special", as Dana Carvey might say.

This feeling was created by years of public adoration and fans worshipping the ground ton which these guys walk . For this I, as a fan, apologize. Fans need a little dose of realitty once in awhile, too.

My message to Mssrs. Phillips, Pierce, Clarett, Vick , and all the other athletes and entertainers in similar situations I say : "- I wish you the best in your future endeavors , and sincerely hope this has taught you some lessons. Get over yourself. You're not subject to different laws than the rest of us."

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner