Psychology Behind Greatness: Michael Vick's Poor Play Shows Remorse?

Vincent HeckCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks down on the bench late in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Recently, we've seen exceptionally talented athletes undergo major changes in their lives. Due to their own carelessness, we've watched stars like Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tiger Woods make decisions that threaten the longevity of their careers.

To be put on such a platform and to be praised, as they are, for their talents creates a natural human response—psychological arousal.

After Vick came into the league, his potential shone through. Vick brought something to the league defenses weren't used to playing against—a quarterback who was the fastest, most athletic person on the field; by far, at times.

In 2002, Vick was named to the Pro Bowl after he completed a career high of 231 of 421 passes for 2,936 yards and 16 touchdowns with 113 carries for 777 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vick's career looked promising.

A couple of NFL records, and two more Pro Bowls later, in August of 2007, Vick plead guilty to federal charges in investigations of dog fighting, leading to an indefinite suspension by the NFL—without pay.

This brought on a plethora of problems for Vick. Besides jail, he had to face losing money, respect, fans, and now as we are witnessing, his ability to perform at a pro-level after being sentenced to 22 months behind bars.

The question is: Is his rusty play the a result of not playing for almost two years? Or could this be a psychological block? Maybe it's both.

If it is a psychological block, however, it could prove Michael Vick has learned his lesson from his experience. How so?

Athleticinsight.com mentions a UK study which investigated the relationship between mental toughness and coping in an ultra-endurance (100km walk/run) event.

"Data was transcribed, and themes were identified using an inductive content analysis and agreed with the participants. Results suggest that successful participants were stubborn / bloody-minded (tenacious), totally committed to their goals, objective, had a sense of humour, thrived on challenges, were able to maintain perspective in adversity and possessed humility."

This was interesting to me. If his play has anything to do with his current mental state of mind, the stubborn, arrogant, Michael Vick may now be a bit more humble than arrogant. Yes, the man who gave his own fans the finger, may realize he's not above reproach.

On the other hand the study did show, also, that one who is mentally tough is stubborn, but they are humble as well.

This humility can help because it reveals that the individual doesn't think too much of himself, to conclude that he can not fail. He's realistic, he realizes he can fail like anyone else—he's just too stubborn to accept that.

If Vick's problem is strictly psychological, however, Vick may show signs of too much humility which has evolved to lack of self-confidence. After such an ordeal, he may be faced with the overwhelming, and humiliating, reality that all of this could be taken away at any given moment.

I came over another interesting blog by a psychologist who goes by the name Dr. X.

He suggests that athletes who engage in violent sports become desensitized to the violent nature of it.

While Dr. X reiterated, that he doesn't condone Vick's actions, he reminds us, "Vick didn't invent the human appetite for gladiators, bloodshed and gambling." 

He, then, goes on to state:

"These days, we place limits on how far these things can go, although human athletes frequently end up with broken bones, and sometimes, far worse.  Sports fans idolize athletes and bettors illegally gamble billions on the outcomes of these contests."

He suggest that while Vick had a choice to play football, the dogs didn't have a choice to fight, but that doesn't change the fact that Vick may not have been able to handle the "psychic implications of a role that, in exchange for becoming a human fighting machine for the entertainment of others, exalts and rewards in the extreme."

Dr. X concludes by referencing former heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson who Dr. X said "was quite explicit about the sense of humiliation he experienced in the exalted role of gladiator...and 'animal.'"

"Animal" being Tyson's specific wording. 

Vick was wrong, but, he may have learned his lesson by losing all he has had. Now he's gotta finish his lesson by picking himself up and getting back to business.

They say it's not about how hard you fall, it's about how you get back on your feet.

If mistakes were meant to be held against us forever, we'd ALL be in trouble.

For more all the latest writing by Vincent Heck, visit: www.vincentheckwriting.com. and My B/R Sports Writer Profile


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