Vick's star power dulled after a dim-witted move

The Kickoff

January 19, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

The latest Michael Vick stupid moment has been brought to you by the Transportation Security Administration.

You're familiar with the TSA. Those are the men and women in the white shirts at the airport who are in charge of rifling through your carry-on luggage and making you take your shoes off to go through the metal detector. They're also the people who have been ordered to be extremely vigilant about liquids since that plot was uncovered in London to use improvised liquid explosives to down several commercial flights.

So, along comes the erstwhile Ron Mexico on Wednesday at Miami International Airport with what appears to be a 20-ounce bottle of water and then, according to the authorities, he starts acting suspicious when they ask him to give it up. Turns out there's a secret compartment under the label that contains a small amount of what looks and smells like marijuana.

Let's review. Increased airport security since Sept. 11. Increased scrutiny of liquids since the London plot. Increased attention because you're Michael Vick. And somehow he's still thinking, "Hey, I've seen Mission: Impossible. They'll never notice that I have a 20-ounce water bottle with a super-secret smuggling slot."

Of course, this isn't a Mission: Impossible moment. It's an Animal House moment. I can just hear Dean Wormer admonishing Vick after his latest dumb-scapade.

"Rich, arrogant and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

I mean, this guy isn't even that good at outsmarting opposing defenses, so what makes him think he can run a successful end-around against a government security agency?

You can go on the Internet (I just did) and with a single three-word Google search find a company that will sell you just about any household item with a secret compartment built into it. Maybe I'm missing something, but I've got to believe the TSA has downloaded a picture of every one of those "secret stash" gadgets and probably has them posted on the wall in the office right next to that little room at the airport where they perform the body cavity searches.

There's probably a perfectly good explanation for all this, and I'm guessing that somebody from Vick's inner circle will step forward and accept responsibility for slipping him the trick bottle without his knowledge. Maybe it'll be the same guy who put that stuff in Michael Irvin's car.

I'm guessing what really happened is that Vick spends so much time on team charter flights and corporate jets that he didn't even realize the TSA has changed some of its screening practices over the past year.

Who can keep up with that kind of stuff anyway? The TSA alters its procedures all the time, presumably to stay ahead of the bad guys.

I had an interesting TSA moment a few months ago at the airport, when I asked a screener if I was required to take off my shoes before going through the scanner. She was friendly and told me that I did not have to take off my shoes if there was no metal in them. Since I was wearing athletic shoes that had passed successfully through the same machines several times, I left them on and moved through the checkpoint without setting off alarms, only to see the same screener call ahead to another TSA employee to pull me out of the line for special screening.

"What's the problem?" I asked.

"You didn't take your shoes off," she replied.

Though I have no idea what the point of that was, I feel much safer now. And I've resolved that if I ever decide to try to smuggle weed onto an airplane, I'll wear a hat.

The thing that really has me scratching my head is why anyone in Vick's position would feel the need to carry anything illegal. This is a guy who could walk into any bar in America, strike up a conversation (for example, "Hi, I'm superstar quarterback Michael Vick ... got any dope?") and have little trouble getting hooked up.

But then, any Alanta Falcons fan could tell you that Vick isn't exactly known for his great decision-making. In fact, former NFL coach Jim Mora got in hot water a couple of months ago for saying on his radio show that Vick is a "coach-killer," which was considered bad form because Mora's son was the Falcons coach at the time. The younger Mora was fired at the end of the regular season, but it probably was just a coincidence.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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