Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chicken Soup with Dick Vermeil's gatekeeper...

Dick Vermeil is retired from coaching football and is now the proud owner of a wine mill in California. A previous post explains why I know his name.

Last November I sent a sarcastic e-mail to his winery. I was curious about whether or not Vermeil spent any time thinking about Bryan Boyd. Boyd spends every day and will spend every day of his life facing the horrific injuries imposed upon him by Ryan Tucker(kind, amazing, gentle, and strong). I did not expect a response and did not receive one from Vermeil himself. What I did receive only reinforced my perception of the institution of football.

On November 4, 2011 I asked the following sarcastic question:

"Will Bryan Boyd by receiving a complimentary case of your best vintage?"


Kim L. Short

I received this response the same day:

"Please provide us with more information on Mr. Boyd and his connection with the winery and/or Coach Vermeil. Thank you."

Tom Ward

I assume that Tom Ward is an administrative assistant or some other functionary. On November 5, 2011 I sent an explanation of my original e-mail and included a link to my original post about Ryan Tucker:

"Hello Tom,

Thank you for responding so quickly. The question was meant to be sarcastic and I apologize for the spelling error.

Bryan Boyd was attacked by Ryan Tucker and four other football players while they were all students at Texas Christian University. Boyd was beaten so badly the hospital asked his mother about donating his organs. Dick Vermeil's comment to the media was essentially an expression of praise for Tucker's ability to impose harm on others.

I've always been fascinated by the public's ability to telegraph depraved indifference toward victims of violent crime and exhibit wild expressions of praise for violent criminals while expressing shock and bewilderment at the behavior of terrorists. Does Coach Vermeil have an opinion on this matter?"


Kim L. Short

Again, Tom Ward responded immediately. I found it interesting that Ward did not question the accuracy of my claim, especially when I got it wrong. Bryan Boyd was attacked by four football players from Texas Christian University, not by Ryan Tucker and four others. Did he not even bother to look it up on the internet?

"Hi Kim,

Was not aware of the situation and have worked with Coach Vermeil closely these last 4 years and have only known him to be one of the most kind, fair, and charitable people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. If each of us were judged by a single comment in our life (and indeed a snipet of a conversation attributed to him) rather than on the body of our works, we would all be in a lot of trouble. Peace to you and yours…"

Tom Ward

Tom Ward is correct when he claims that we would all be in a lot of trouble if we were being judged solely by a single comment or act. But there's an important difference between Dick Vermeil and the rest of us. Vermeil spent his career serving an institution infamous for deifying, enriching, and protecting the worst of the worst and then trying to gloss over the ugliness by staging occasional and well timed acts of charity. Tom Ward wrote back to me the same day (November 5, 2011) with a shining example:

"Hi Kim,

It occurred to me after my last note that there is a very appropriate story to share in giving you some perspective of my view of Mr. Vermeil. I spend a lot of time with him…probably 50 days a year…and earlier this year he flew out to Denver for a paid speaking engagement. Companies will often pay to bring a well-known personality and Mr. Vermeil was offered $10,000 by a charity in Denver to address a group of their major contributors.

Kim, the charity was a shelter for abused women, and Coach was very moved after touring the facility and meeting with some of the families there. He concluded his presentation to the donors who were brought in to meet him that he would pass on his speaking fee if 10 people would raise their hands and pledge an additional $1,000 each, which of course happened quickly. You are clearly welcome to formulate your opinion of the man, but please take into consideration from someone who has seen him perform COUNTLESS acts of random kindness that he truly is a good soul.

God bless, take care…"


After reminding me that we should not be judged by individual comments or acts, Tom Ward undermined his own argument by expressing the usual toadying worship of Vermeil's well timed but meaningless theatre production. Every time I see a football player visiting a children's hospital or some similar venue I want to puke. I have difficulty believing that the public is really stupid enough to be fooled by such stage managed phoniness...and then election year roles around and I get to observe the same phenomenon on the grand scale. Enthralled crowds of empty headed worshippers cheer wildly when Political Candidate #3 endlessly repeats some variation of, "Follow me! Blame them!"

I questioned Vermeil's true character and intent with the following response:

"Hi Tom,

The existence of "abused women" implies the existence of abusers, men who enjoy a strong sense of entitlement and legitimacy in their mistreatment of others. They also enjoy a strong sense of security in a culture where violent behavior is the hallmark of being a man and victims of violence, male or female are often blamed for bringing it upon themselves. Given the subject of my weblog and my criticism of the public's acceptance of violent men, my next question is simple:

Has Coach Vermeil made any effort to undermine the legitimacy of violent men?"


Kim L. Short

This is where the dialog ended. Frankly, I'm surprised it went on as long as it did. In American culture, questioning the devine right of large, male sociopaths is one of our strongest taboos. Terrorists know that. I've always known it. And now you know it too. Enjoy the game tomorrow.