Don't Snitch--Until It's Your Butt On The Line
It was amazing television.
The "60 Minutes" piece that aired Sunday, August 12th on rappers and the "don't snitch" culture was jaw-dropping, with one performer admitting he wouldn't tell police if there was a serial killer living next door. Other artists admitted that they have to cop that 'tude to maintain street cred and thus, move product. Who wins? The rapper, for sure, but also mainstream entertainment conglomerates who get the ultimate cut of the action. (Watch/read Anderson Cooper's piece here).
Enter Michael Vick.
As I write this, a federal court is meeting in Atlanta to discuss the possibility of additional dogfighting counts for the Atlanta Falcons quarterback. He, in the meantime, is hunkered down with his lawyers trying to decide if the time is right to cop a plea (to charges that will no doubt include career-altering jail time). The discussions intensified after three of Vick's co-defendants flipped on him--copping to pleas of their own. Chances are, those pleas will involve some sort of testimony in return for leniency.
In so many words...they're about to snitch.
Michael Vick isn't the first athlete to get burned by the actions of his buddies--entourages often quasar amid allegations that someone in the group has it better than someone else, or that a member isn't pulling his/her part of the weight. Women and drugs can upset the dynamic, too. Gambling? That's been known to toss a wrench into the works.
And, apparently, even man's best friend.
New York Times columnist Peter Vecsey writes, "Vick has been abandoned, left to contemplate a plea deal that could imprison him and ruin his N.F.L. career. He is stunned, those in his camp say. Snitching is a street sin, isn’t it? 'That’s all make-believe,' said Cris Carter, a former star receiver who addresses players at the N.F.L.’s seminars about the dangers of dubious associations. 'That’s too many TV shows. In the end, it’s about self-preservation.'
And yet the crew, as Vick once called them, was bound together by survival.
“We all stuck together before I was Mike Vick, before the fame and stardom, before the money,” Vick told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2005. “There’s not one new guy in my circle. Everybody I have around me is out for my best interests.'
' I just think there are some parents in the African-American culture who have preached a philosophy of you can’t trust white America,” Carter said. “The league is still run by Caucasian males. What’s engrained is mistrust. So guys hold tight to friends who always had their back.”
This is an observation by Carter, not an excuse, because he tells players that stereotyping will lead them nowhere, that dark associations will find light in a see-all society, and that, first and foremost, “They have to grow up.”
Arrested development is a creature of the star system. Vick flunked adult accountability in a superstar culture that doesn’t demand it. Repercussions are for second-stringers. With the Falcons, Vick always carried an explanation or apology or denial for everything, like the night friends were picked up for drug trafficking in his truck, or the false-bottomed bottle that was confiscated by security at an airport or the obscene gesture he made to fans."
Rappers have to sell C-D's.
NFL quarterbacks have jerseys to peddle--personal websites they want fans to 'subscribe' to. There are shoe contracts and other endorsements that round out the industry that has become the professional athlete. Now, more than ever, is the time for the buyer to beware. The name on the back of that shirt you bought one day could be in the headlines the next--and not necessarily in the sports pages.
Chances are you could even see it on "60 Minutes". And that's not always a good thing.