Michael Vick–When heroes fall

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has been indicted on federal charges of dogfighting and conspiracy. It is my hope that while this case is attracting passion from many people, that those same people will take deep breaths, step back, and let the process work itself out.

Dogfighting is barbaric. Nobody disputes this. It is a sick, twisted, disgusting, vile activity, and I wish that those involved would be subjected to the same fate as the animals.

My interest in this case is not about the animals. My passion is the National Football League. I will be the first person to admit that if an NFL player was not involved in this story, I might not even know about it. I will not pretend otherwise.


I have met Michael Vick. We did not speak, and my opinion of him as a person was neutral. As a football player, he is Superman. The Atlanta Falcons were perennial NFL doormats until he came along. To see a guy roll out, stop on a dime, and throw it 70 yards down the field for a touchdown, is breathtaking. The guy is a human highlight reel.

This does not give him a free pass to committ acts that are detrimental to society, but again, it is the main reason this story will have so much traction over the long haul.

I once remarked that Michael Vick “has the potential to be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football.” Maybe I bought into the hype, but his talents were apparent to me. One year he was injured, and missed the first 12 games in a season that is only 16 games. When he came back for a Sunday night game, the Falcons were 2-10. The stadium was packed to capacity, as if the team was 10-2. They were there to see him. The team finished 5-11, but again, winning three out of its last four games.

Now his multimillion dollar salary, his football career, and perhaps even his freedom, might be gone for good. If he is guilty, he deserves to lose it all. However, the process must play itself out.

What we do know is that a house that Vick owned did have dogfights going on. The house was painted pitch black, so that it would not be noticed at night, when most dogfighting takes place. Michael Vick has claimed that he did not partake in the dogfighting, but a  confidential witness has said that he did.

Sports leagues are given wide latitude to handle most matters internally. However, the perception that professional athletes get special treatment has allowed courts to end the days when “self-policing” meant sweeping everything under the rug and denying that the problem exists (are you listening baseball?).

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is in his first year on the job. He has yet to be Commissioner long enough to see an actual game. His predecessor Paul Tagliabue reigned over a golden age for the NFL, and rightfully deserves his treatment as a rock star by NFL fans everywhere. While Tagliabue zealously guarded the league’s image, the last couple years has seen some tarnish on that golden reputation.

Roger Goodell is the new sheriff in town, and the sheriff is cracking down. He wants law and order, and no player is above the league.

I met Roger Goodell twice, at the NFL Drafts of 2006 and 2007. When I met him this year, I spoke to him for about 2-3 minutes, which was significantly more than any average Joe should expect from the Commisioner of the hottest sports leage in America. I told Mr. Goodell that I loved the NFL, but did not want to see the game tarnished. He said he felt exactly the same way, which was why he was taking drastic action towards players that violated the NFL’s conduct policy. He had already handed out severe suspensions to players that in the past might have gotten off with a wrist slap.

What was very heartening was that the overwhelming unmber of fans at the NFL Draft agreed with the tough crackdown. They praised Goodell, which goes against the stereotype of win at all cost fans. Goodell listened to every one of them, taking several minutes out for one fan in a wheelchair. This was done while the cameras were nowhere near him. Goodell understands that doing the right thing for the league benefits everybody. This Vick incident will be a tough test.

The NFL Conduct policy has come under scrutiny as well. It states that a player does not need to be convicted of a crime to be punished. Accusations and patterns of behavior would be sufficient. While many have said that this violates the U.S. Constitution and the right to due process of law, the NFL is a private entity. Nobody is entitled to play football. The NFL cannot have a policy that is looser than government laws, but they can have one that is more strict.

Yet just because something is legal, that does not make it moral. What happens if Michael Vick, or any player for that matter, is suspended, and then found not guilty? The life span of a football player is short, and declines rapidly at the end. Time cannot be reversed. Also, what about the other players on the Falcons? They did nothing wrong. Players want to win championships, and the chances of the Falcons winning a Super Bowl without Michael Vick are slim to none.

Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, is cooperating fully with the league. He was prepared to suspend Vick for four games. The league, aka Mr. Goodell, has told Blank to hold off while the investigation is pending.

None of this is news, but behind all the stories is a young man who’s life is at stake. Before we burn him in effigy, we had better make sure the legal ducks are in a row, and that row is perfect. God help us if an innocent man is convicted.

I admit being biased. I want Michael Vick to be innocent. The NFL will survive without him, but he is electrifying to watch. The deeper worry I have is the analysis of what type of human being I want to be. I love the NFL, but am very hesitant to pass it on to my children. It is a brutal, violent game, and lately that violence has spilled beyond the field, which has been to the detriment of society. If leatherheads like me who spend Sundays analyzing x’s and o’s do not pass the game on, then the game dies.

Although some have spoken about overzealous district attorneys, this is wishful thinking. Yes, some defendants do get “Nifonged.” Yes, a district attorney can indict a ham sandwich. Yes, some district attorneys just want to get their names in the paper. Putting all of that aside, most district attorneys value their reputations and their jobs. Too many defeats, and they get fired. If this district attorney is like most of them, then we are dealing with a hard working individual that indicted for a reason. The case could be strong. We do not know all of the cards the district attorney is holding.

Also, if Michael Vick is a low level or mid level player, the district attorney’s goal should be to get the big fish, the people at the top. To crack down hard on Vick because he is a celebrity makes no sense. Whoever is leading this ring should get the most punishment, and if Michael Vick cuts a deal and gets leniency, this is fair, and normal.

The only thing I know is that right now there is a lot that I do not know. We will be hearing barbaric allegations, and it will make people sick to their collective stomachs. Having said that, enforcement is a cold blooded process. Michael Vick is entitled to a fair trial. He should not be punished more severely because he is wealthy or famous. Equal treatment under the law is not a slogan. It is what keeps our society from collapsing.

It does not look good for Michael Vick. However, I will try to separate my bias as a fan of his during this tial. I hope that those who love animals or hate sports can separate their biases as well.

The rule of law is important. So are animals. Yet, so are children. To many young children, Michael Vick is still Superman. He is a hero. Their hero has fallen. For every kid today wearing a Michael Vick jersey who wants to emulate him, do not destroy their dreams just yet. Their fathers may have to tell them that a bad man did bad things, but we do not know that yet.

Michael Vick, as of now, is not a dog. He is a person. The dogs he allegedly abused were not given a fair chance at life. That does not mean Michael Vick should be given less of a fair chance to defend his life.

Everybody step back, and let the process work.

In September, I will be cheering for the Oakland Raiders, the silver and black. Right now there is a black cloud hanging over the National Football League, and I hope some silver linings arrive very soon.



23 Responses to “Michael Vick–When heroes fall”

  1. micky2 says:

    Maybe those are so quick to judge could learn something from the Kobe case.
    What he went through was horrible, lets not see that happen again.

  2. Marquis says:

    A fallen hero indeed.

  3. connie grace says:

    I am horrified by the fact that humans do such things to animals who trust us. I think Michael Vick should me subject to the same brutalilty. He’s a pig!!!

  4. connie grace says:

    I cannot beleive you idiots who idolize creeps for the sake of sports. To say that Michael Vick is still a ‘hero’ is so… well…’not right’! How can you justify 2 dogs (who otherwise would probably like each other) being shoved to fight! I think Michael Vick as a ‘small man problem’ as does every…JOCK who agrees with him. The operative word is “Cialis”. You have 36 hours. Go Figure!!

  5. micky2 says:

    connie grace.
    Please tell me how you know that Michael Vicks has commited the crime he is accused of when the trial has not even started ?
    Why such venom when you dont know any more of the facts than the rest of the world ?
    People like you are the reason he will be tried in the media and found guilty before he sets foot in court.
    You are just as disgusting as the claims you make against Vicks.
    Would you just as soon execute someone before he is found guilty of murder ?
    I wiil wait. And if Vicks is found guilty, I will be one of the first ones on this planet to wish he gets everything he deserves.

  6. Manny_Calavera says:

    [quote]Now his multimillion dollar salary, his football career, and perhaps even his freedom, might be gone for good. If he is guilty, he deserves to lose it all. However, the process must play itself out.[/quote]

    I agree with most of your post but in fairness he has received $61,910,630 in salary and bonuses that cannot be reclaimed by the team. The whopping $350,000 fine represents 12 days worth of wages. This does not include any endorsements as I was too lazy to look them up. So, he won’t be broke.

    His career may be over but that’s just too bad. If he did the crime I have no sympathy for his lost career. If I commit a felony I could lose my job too. He’ll just have to find other work like any other poor schlub. Or maybe spend his days counting the interest on his millions.

    If he is exonerated he will be on the field again next year and may even be paid the $6 million he is supposed to be given this year. So shed no tears for him on that account.

    Prison may take up to 6 years of his life (one year on the dogfighting and five on the gambling). Time off for behavior puts him out in four years at the ripe old age of 31. If there IS anyone higher in the chain then he can strike a deal to get them and therefore his sentence will be reduced.

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the Feds have a 95% conviction rate. That makes me think that, after a 6-week investigation, they have him dead to rights. But we’ll see. I say let justice run it’s course and lets keep the cameras out of the courtroom. No OJ circus for me, thanks.

  7. connie grace says:

    Mickey2: Do you honestly think Michael Vick would be in the trouble he is today if there was not strong evidence he committed (or at least knew of the crimes against these defenseless animals? I didn’t fall off the banana boat yesterday … and yes…I would execute someone if I found him holding a ‘smoking gun’ over a dead body and all the evidence pointed to ‘guilty’.. He is after all an NFL star, do you really think anyone…would pursue a case against him if not faced with overwhelming evidence?

    People like me are not the reason celebs like him are found guiltly before they go to court. No… you are wrong…people like me are tired of hearing about those celebs with obvious problems. I’m tired of the Lindsey Lohan’s, the Brittany’s, the Paris Hiltons, the Michael Vicks…I’m ready to hear about the real heroes…the Tom Hanks …the Meg Ryans…the for God sake, people who are in the public eye and live good lifes…(at least those who don’t drink and drive drunk and encourage dogs to kill each other). Those who deserve ‘air time’.

    As for Vicks…I hope to God he is not being falsely accused…and I am with you. I do not trust the media, however, I’m tired of the dysfunction of those we hold to high esteem. I am tired of those who assume innocence because the accused is a ‘star’.

    Take solice in the fact you’ll probably never have to step up to the plate ’cause his NFL team of attorney’s will prevail. Isn’t it comfortable to wait?

  8. micky2 says:

    regretfully I will reply to connie grace { no connection to nancy ? }

    You are pre judgemental, period. Plain and simple.
    You are entitle to your beliefs, as we all are.
    But if your mentallity prevailed in this country threre would be no reason for a court system.
    Hows this for an example?;
    I think that that you are an insecure woman who has never had a man, or hates the few that she has ever met. You are an evil , mean and nasty incompassionate and frigide excuse for a woman.
    Now , I dont know much about you other than the example by the post you left.
    Is it fair for me to say those things about you ?
    I am a dog owner and lover. Dog fighting is popular here in Hawaii. And I hate the bastards that have anything to do with it. And when I see them often with there dogs that have the scars from battle. I would love more than anything to sick my 135 pound Great Dane on his ass.
    But if I did that, I would be no better than you for assuming that just because he had the dog with him, he was guilty.

    If were to perform guilt by association what should you be associated with ?
    Do really think you can justify your comments wthout a shred of evidence ?
    You know nothing about Brittany, Linsey, Paris or Michael Vicks other than what you hear on the tube.
    I hope you can realize that.

  9. arclightzero says:

    Sadly, I err on the side of assuming guilt here. I know it is certainly wrong of me, but then again, I think that trials these days are more of an excuse to hire very expensive lawyers who are good at finding technicalities and loopholes with which to exploit and get guilty people off the hook. I have very little faith in the criminal justice system these days, namely because so many people involved – from judges to prosecutors to lawyers – are activists who would rather shrug off the law than do the right thing.

    Does Vick deserve a fair trial? Of course he does, but so long as it is fair. I’m sorry, with the evidence they have against this guy, a 3-year old prosecutor and a jury of chimpanzees could find this guy guilty, despite his “not guilty” plea. In a case like this the court’s job should be to determine “how” guilty he actually is, but I fear that this will be a big money, game-show smoke and mirror case where the million dollar lawyers come in and work to convince the jury that Vick was secretly working for NASA and was actually on Mars during the time at which the crime was supposed to have taken place.

    Is there a chance that Vick is innocent? Sure, of course there is. It’s possible but not probable. It’s what happens when you’re caught red handed, which it certainly seems that he was…

  10. arclightzero says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the reason my faith is so diminished is because I have spent too much time recently posting on the needless deaths of people at the hands of criminals who were on the streets due to errors or just plain incompetence of the justice system.

  11. connie grace says:

    I am sorry it was distasteful for you to reply to me. (There, it was a real stretch for me to apologize.)

    I was surprised to learn dog fighting is popular in Hawaii. News to me. You accused me of being pre-judgmental..you are right!!! My vision of Hawaii is of beautiful people dressed in flowered clothing sipping on fruitty drinks adorned with paper umbrellas, snacking on pineapples while roasting whole pigs in holes in the ground, swaying to the island music while watching sunsets over the Pacific. Oh God…I can’t believe this! How did you attain this knowledge that dog fighting is popular? Surely it can’t be so!!! Have you witnessed a staged dog fight, is your knowledge based on heresay or intelligent observation of the evidence such things occur? Since I myself have never visited Hawaii (but would love to) forgive me for choosing to ‘stick my head in a distasteful place’ and hold onto my wonderful visions of Hawaii and its people. AND since I have never been there, I confess I am pre-judgemental.

    As for your other judgements of me, you’re almost ‘right on the money’!

    I will assume your statement ‘never had a man’ is referring to an intimate relationship, marriage or a similar experience. You are correct…I have never ‘had a man’.

    As for the other adjectives, i.e. evil, mean, nasty, incompassionate etc..YEP.
    I confess:

    Once at a party (when I was a teenager) I placed a condom over the exhaust pipe on my best friends Volkswagon.
    It was an evil, nasty, WICKED (I’ll throw that word in) thing to do. I showed absolutely no compassion when everyone at the party laughed when he started the engine.
    Thank goodness I avoided prosecution, public ridicule, tremendous attorney fees not to speak of a lifetime of humiliation for my crime. No one thought to disassemble the vending machine in the mens room of a truck stop and take my fingerprint from the quarter I used to purchase the condom. Lucky for me.

    Wow…I feel better. Confessions free the soul.

    As for the woman part…well currently I am not a woman. I suppose with a pile of money and the right surgeon that could be a true statement. I am happy with my gender.

    I am pleased to hear you curse dog fighting. We’re not fair apart in our opinions and I hope Michael Vick (an icon to alot of fans and children) is innocent of these serious allegations. You are a good person Mickey2.

  12. connie grace says:

    To ArcLightZero:
    Kudos to you.

  13. micky2 says:

    Connie my assumptions of you were only meant as an example.

    In Hawaii we have just as many problems as any of the other 49 states.
    We have cultural blend here that requires a lot more tolerance than would be required any place else. We are 2nd or 3rd when it comes to crystal meth use, we have chicken fighting, dog fighting.Plenty of traffic and crime.
    Part of the filipino community still eats dogs as part of their culture. Last week I reported what was suspected to be a dog being raised for this purpose. The preferable dog to dine on is the black dog. This dog is black { beautiful labrador } and had been in a Filipino mans back yard , tied up to a small hut for almost a couple years. I asked the neighbor if she thougt that was any way to treat a pet. The neighbor said; ” I dont think its a pet “. { I knew what that meant } So I called the SPCA , today I will be checking back.
    As far as my knowledge of dog fighting goes. I have first hand knowledge of and personal contact with gangsta wanna be punks who raise pitt bulls with the purpose of fighting them for money. Its every where, and probably more prevalent than it is on the mainland. I think we have more pitt bulls here than any other state. It’s like a status symbol of some sort. And yes, I have walked in on two dog fights in my life. But choose to say nothing because I have a family and the community here is small, you dont know who to trust.
    The case against Vicks does not look good. The evidence stacked up so far is probably not going to help him at all.
    But we seem to living in a world where its O.K. to throw out accusations without being able to prove them. Especially within our goverment. Jumping to conclusions, name calling and false accusations are beggining to wear me thin.
    So excuse if I get a little worked up when people come out off the line saying a bunch of things that really have no merit, yet.
    I too am guilty of contempt prior to investigation. I forgot that a man can actually go by the name of Connie.
    See what happens when we open our yaps without having all the facts ?

  14. connie grace says:

    Mickey2: I stand corrected. Normally, I don’t make such venomous statements. I applaud you for your courage to remain neutral when angry. I am not such a tough guy. Believe it or not, I do ‘small kindnesses’ for animals and people.

    Small Story: I am totally allergic to pets (the hair, the dander, dogs, cats). I had a pit bull puppy show up at my door on a stormy night. I feed him, gave him water…I tried to resist. I tried to ignore him. I wanted him to go away! Bottom line…the best friend I ever had. I only showed him love and affection and amazingly he returned the courtesy. Unfortunately and most regrettably, when I was on vacation, the ‘come once a day and feed to dog’ caregiver let him out. He was killed on the street. He was a good and loving pet.

    Now I have 2 feral cats and a possum (they live outside of course). I’ve taken the cats to the vet for shots , neutering and checkups. Still working on the possum. Go figure. I apologize for venom of my previous statements. I’m not an animal activist, a tree hugger or left winger… however, I would help anyone or anything. Thanks for your patience with me. I was wrong in venting.

  15. micky2 says:

    Its cool,
    You have never experienced me in the past. But I am constantly apologizing for jumping the gun. I believe we are passionate people who mean well and get frustrated when we are not understood or heard.
    Take care my friend.
    { Aloha !}

  16. connie grace says:

    Aloha! We can be friends! I’ll be quite from now on…

  17. connie grace says:

    sorry not ‘quite’ but ‘guiet’.

  18. micky2 says:

    Hope to hear from you again

  19. The Crawfish says:

    Mike Vick, while an outstanding running back (and an average at best quarterback), has been, like his brother Marcus, a punk beeotch from the get-go. He’s a thug like the rest of his homies from Va Tech and Atlanta. I was not surprised in the least when these allegations came out. Many of the Falcon players have 5 or more pit bulls, and there’s only one reason for that. Looks like Va Tech is the new U of Miami when it comes to producing criminals and those who have no clue about sportsmanship.

    Goodell has been doing a great job to reign in the outta control jungle rules attitude present in many of today’s athletes. I wish he’d go a bit farther. How about enforcing some safety rules in the league. It used to be mandatory to have hip pads, thigh pads, knee pads, and pants that extended below the knees. Now the wideouts and DBs wear helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys, socks, cleats, and long shorts. I’d like to see a rule that hair is not to protrude more than 1.5 inches from the helmet. I’m surprised that the clothing retailers haven’t screamed for this already, since the long braids cover the name on some jerseys. I’m just waiting for one of those longhair freaks to be running down the sidelines when some lineman reached out and grabs him by the hair and causes a serious neck injury.

  20. Robe says:

    Hmm, always thought your site was logical, insightful and particularly thought provoking. Good that you can be non-judgemental when it comes to that piece of trash by the name of Vick. All because he is such a great football player. Tacky to even compare Vick with Bryant. Waaay different situation. Sorry you are so willing to give a pass on such overwhelming evidence. I am taking my reading elsewhere. I need a long shower to wash away your logic.

  21. Manny_Calavera says:

    Robe: I believe he means “Wait and see.”

    Duke Lacross team
    Michael Irvin
    Kobe Bryant
    Richard Jewell (Olympic Park bombing suspect)

    All tried and convicted before the trial due to “overwhelming evidence”. All had charges dropped, not plea bargained down (Ray Lewis) or found responsible (OJ in the civil suit).

    If Vick commited these crimes, and I think he did, we should still let the law run it’s course. There are many people out there who would have gladly put Kobe or the Dukies away for 20 years. People wanted Richard Jewell to be strung-up immediately. “The Oxbow Incident” comes to mind.

    Saying “Everybody step back, and let the process work.” is NOT giving a pass.

  22. leftistmoon says:

    Oh for crying out loud, there is NO such word as “prejudgemental.” You either are or are not judgmental, meaning have prejudged. Judgmental denotes prejudgment.

    Interesting, interesting – Eric. Even though I’m not a fan of football, I have heard of Michael Vick and his apparently godlike qualities in football. I have nephews!

  23. leftistmoon says:

    Oh for crying out loud, there is NO such word as “prejudgemental.” You either are or are not judgmental, meaning having prejudged. Judgmental denotes prejudgment.

    Interesting, interesting – Eric. Even though I’m not a fan of football, I have heard of Michael Vick and his apparently godlike qualities in football. I have nephews!

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