- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

What it comes down to is this: Marcus Vick isn’t good enough to behave the way he did, and Sean Taylor is. That’s what it usually comes down to in these cases, isn’t it? It’s rarely a matter of what’s right and what’s wrong; the definitions of right and wrong on a football field are severely skewed, anyway. No, it’s basically a matter of: How essential is the guy to the team’s existence?

Had Vick gotten Virginia Tech to a BCS bowl or led the Hokies to a national championship, the school probably would have come up with some pretzel-logic rationale for retaining his services. But the disappointing Hokies made it only to the Gator Bowl this season, so Marcus’ impromptu Riverdance on the calf of Louisville All-American Elvis Dumervil last week was deemed cause for termination.

That said, you’d better believe Tech officials thought long and hard before giving Marcus the boot — not because he’s such an irreplaceable quarterback, but because his brother is former Hokies hero Michael Vick, the greatest player in CD-ROM history. Indeed, the fear of alienating Michael from the program may well be what has kept Marcus eligible all this time, despite his many mess-ups. (In other words, Marcus wasn’t all that crucial to the cause, but his brother was.)

So Marcus Vick has left the building, but Sean Taylor spits on. Why? Well, as Joe Gibbs said after the playoff win over Tampa Bay on Saturday, “He’s a dominating force. He covers the field. He’s had a great year.” What’s more, Taylor is the Redskins’ second-leading scorer the past two weeks with two touchdowns on fumble returns. And given the offense’s near-total outage, he might have to score again against Seattle if the Snydermen are to have any chance of upsetting the Seahawks.

Thus, criticism of No. 21’s act was decidedly — and predictably — muted among his co-workers. I can hardly wait to see how the issue is handled by Redskins.com TV, your “unfiltered” media outlet. Perhaps the organization will continue to deal with it in the hypothetical, as Gibbs did — “if” Taylor spit in the face of the Bucs’ Michael Pittman. … After all, according to defensive boss Gregg Williams, Sean claimed no such crime occurred. “And I believe him,” Williams added.

This makes referee Mike Carey, the principal witness, either (a) hallucinatory; or (b) a liar. (Because, as any student of jurisprudence knows, if Sean says he didn’t spit, you must acquit.)

A much more plausible scenario is that Taylor did clear his throat in Pittman’s general direction, but then blacked out — like Howard Beale after one of his rants in “Network” — and now has no memory of his transgression. There has to be some reason why serial offenders like Sean seem unable to learn from their mistakes.

And this one was a doozy — on national television, with the Redskins’ defense already bereft of Shawn Springs (groin injury) and Renaldo Wynn (broken forearm). The last thing the unit needed late in the third quarter was to have one of its mainstays get a game misconduct. But, hey, that’s just Sean being Sean. Didn’t a Bengals receiver, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, accuse him last season of Illegal Use of a Loogie?

Most of us learn at an early age to keep our phlegm to ourselves, but some, apparently, never get the message. And while there are worse offenses, obviously, than spitting on an opponent — deliberately injuring him, for instance — few provoke as much indignation. Players are always harping on the “respect” theme in sports, how this, that or some other person isn’t giving them their proper due, and yet here’s a player committing an utterly disrespectful act toward another member of the fraternity.

Pittman, with his siren-filled past, won’t win any citizenship awards, but he was right on the mark when he said of Taylor’s atrocity, “That’s not sportsmanlike. As a human being, you just don’t do that to another human being.”

But people have been making excuses for Sean Taylor his entire life. I mean, he’s such a good player and everything. A dominating force. Covers the field. Has had a great year. It’s helped make him what he is today: a lit fuse. I wish somebody would do a study of this because it seems incorrigibles of Taylor’s ilk are rarely “reformed,” no matter how much rope they’re given, how much time they spend, deep in self-contemplation, in the Timeout Chair. They just go from one Three Stooges moment to the next.

Until they’re deemed expendable, that is. And then the patience runs out. It happened to Marcus Vick, and it’ll happen sometime, somewhere to Sean Taylor. Just not soon enough.

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