Friday, August 21, 2009
Vick - as in sick
(Above: one of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels)
Ever since Michael Vick signed a $6.875 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on August 13, the reaction from the sports media has been overwhelmingly positive. The only debate has been whether he'll be rusty from the year-and-a-half layoff.
Hello? HE KILLED DOGS!
Some he hanged, some he shot, some he electrocuted, some he drowned, and some he simply beat to death.
And what was their crime? They wouldn't fight because they were too gentle.
During his trial, one of his co-defendants said he suggested that dogs who wouldn't fight should be given away, but Vick replied, "They got to go." Translation: Kill them.
At the time, Vick denied everything.
"It's a property where I'm never there. I'm never at the house," he said. "I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name."
Now, flash forward to his interview on "60 Minutes" last week.
He said he cried many nights thinking about how he had let down his fiancée, his kids, his teammates, his fans, even Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Most of all, "I let myself down, you know, not being out on the football field, being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home."
The only ones he didn't apologize to were the victims of his crimes. Interviewer James Brown tried his best to prompt him, repeating, "But what about the dogs, Michael?" But the most he would say was, "It was wrong."
In short, he doesn't get it, and he never will. He's a classic sociopath: someone who is completely unconcerned about the effects of his actions on others.
And make no mistake: He did it for the sheer sadistic pleasure.
"I thought it was cool," he told Brown. "And I thought it was, you know, it was fun, and it was exciting at the time."
His defenders say everyone deserves a second chance, but is that necessary true? What if he had been convicted of child molesting instead of killing dogs? Does anyone think the NFL would - or should - give him a second chance then?
Of course not, because child molesting is just too icky. So all we're really debating is whether a given offense passes the ickiness threshold. And I think killing and torturing dogs does.
Like children, dogs are innocent, trusting, completely dependent and utterly vulnerable. They feel love, fear and pain, just like us. And they don't want to die.
Besides, the dogs aren't the only victims. Do you know how they are trained to fight? By giving them smaller animals, like puppies and kittens, to "practice" on. A large number of family pets that go missing from the backyard turn out to be kidnapped by organized dogfighting rings.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has conditionally suspended Vick through October 18, although Vick could play as early as Week 1, pending a final decision by Goodell.
By coincidence, the Eagles' game on October 18 is against the Raiders, here at the Coliseum. Kickoff time is 1:05 p.m.
If Vick is reinstated by then, I hope the Coliseum will be ringed by peaceful picket lines of dog lovers and their pooches. Wear your Raiders jerseys if you have them.
And if you attend the game, let the boos echo to the top of Mount Davis. Let Vick know that football fans love their dogs, too.