Jackson has started campaigning for Vick to get back into the NFL. No surprise there. The surprise is that he'd drag Robinson's good name into the fight.
I figured some things would be off limits even to Jackson. The comparison shows (choose one):
A) How out of touch Jackson is.
B) How desperate he is for attention.
C) How we'd all be better off if he would just go back to demanding more autopsies for Michael Jackson and leave sports alone.
The correct answer, of course, is all of the above. Unfortunately, Jackson still thinks the best way to deal with any situation is to pour gasoline on it.
He called the Virginia Pilot last week to lobby for Vick. Then he told the New York Times that NFL owners might be colluding against Vick.
"Democracy doesn't guarantee success," he said. "Democracy guarantees an opportunity."
You could argue that Vick has blown every opportunity he's ever been handed, but I don't want to start yet another dog-food fight. I'd just like to ask Rev. Jackson to reconsider his overall approach.
Any comparison is so absurd it's not even worth making fun of. All it's done is make Vick look bad and reaffirm why Jackson has become E.F. Hutton in a parallel universe.
When he talks, people don't listen.
"I'm a tree-shaker, not a jelly-maker," he once said.
That approach has its merits, but Jackson has shaken up the wrong tree so many times people no longer listen. Most just hear him and either laugh or roll their eyes in disgust.
Remember his condemnation of the Duke lacrosse team? We all know how that one turned out, though Jackson felt no need to apologize.
He said he just wanted the truth to come out and make the world a better place. I guess that's true if you define neutrality as offering to pay the college tuition of the accuser whether she lied or not.
In Jesse's World, she was the victim. Not the three defendants she falsely accused of rape or the team which was disbanded as the false furor raged.
Among other sporting victims Jackson has championed -- Terrell Owens and Barry Bonds. The Eagles mistreated Owens by once suspending him for the rest of the season. Bud Selig persecuted Bonds by not offering unconditional love during his steroid-stained march to the career home run record.
At least Jackson didn't threaten to protest outside AT&T Park if Selig didn't kiss Bonds at home plate. NASCAR should have been so lucky. It donated $250,000 to Operation PUSH in 2003 and one of Jackson 's board members still called it "the last bastion of white supremacy."
White is undoubtedly the dominant NASCAR color, but it's not because the sport is run by rednecks desperate to keep African-Americans out of the driver's seat. As with the lack of African-American head football coaches, the issue is a bit more complicated than that.
Jackson still sees the world as one big lunch counter refusing to serve African-Americans. That kind of outrage was black-and-white in its simplicity, but Jackson 's strategy hasn't changed in 50 years.
He doesn't do complexities. He doesn't even do facts.
It's easier to just swoop in, exaggerated, inflame and compare baseball's retired No. 42 to football's defrocked No. 7.
To be fair, Jackson is not saying Vick is the admirable person Robinson was. He just thinks an NFL owner needs to have Branch Rickey's courage and stand up for a downtrodden soul that society has unfairly cast aside.
Vick the Victim. Where have we seen this before?
The world's most famous ex-pet owner would have been better off if Jackson had stuck to shaking down corporations. Now Vick is enduring a fresh cycle of ridicule. And we can entertain the delicious thought of PUSH showing up at an NFL camp to protest against PETA.
Gee, who do you pull for in that?
Jackson should apologize to Robinson's widow, Rachel. Apologies require humility, however, and that's not in Jackson 's playbook.
Even when he's wrong, Jackson feels the greater cause makes him right. But instead of breaking down walls like Martin Luther King Jr., he has made a career out of building walls.
That's because King spoke the truth. Jackson says whatever will get attention.
I suppose this column is further proof the approach works. But if Jackson really wants to help Vick, he'd pull back.
Jackie Robinson is not just another tree he can feel free to shake.