Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michael Vick will plead guilty to federal dog-fighting charges, which means he now faces up to five years in prison and perhaps much more. But not if the NAACP has anything to say about it.

I have refrained from commenting about Vick until now, mainly because I believe in "innocent until proven guilty" and I've been rather disgusted at how the mainstream media tends to convict before any evidence is heard. Case in point, the Duke Lacrosse team. So, while I was disappointed to hear of Vick's potential involvement in all of this I still held out hope that he was not guilty. I was wrong.

Vick is an incredibly talented athlete. He had ways of making people say "wow". In short, he was fun to watch and had a very bright future ahead of him. It's a shame that he's basically flushed all of that for some cheap thrills. It's amazing to me how some athletes are hell-bent to waste their talent and self-destruct. Add Michael Vick to that list. Up to five years in prison and a lifetime of shame next to names like Kobe Bryant, OJ Simpson, Joe Jackson and Pete Rose.

Amidst all of this, the question being asked is: When will Vick be allowed to play football again? Yes, this reflects poorly on our society, but it's still a legitimate question. Interestingly enough, the NAACP has quickly jumped to Vick's defense, asking the NFL to avoid suspending the superstar quarterback. NAACP president R.L. White said that Vick "made a mistake" and should be allowed to learn from it. He feels that any prison sentence Vick receives is punishment enough and that an NFL suspension would be harsh. Well, I understand the argument, but I couldn't disagree more.

First, the crime. White speaks of it (along with many other Vick supporters) as though Vick was ticketed for jaywalking. This man committed a serious crime. Brutal cruelty to animals represents human behavior disturbing in every sense of the word. Many clinical sociopaths are identified early because of their tendency to engage in such behavior. Any psychiatrist will tell you that someone capable of brutality towards animals is also capable of the same towards humans, which is one of the reasons why this is against the law. So, Vick will plead guilty to a very serious crime and with that comes serious punishment. Five years in prison is fair, although I highly doubt he will get that much.

So what happens after his prison term? White says that Vick's debt to society would then be paid and the slate wiped clean and Vick should then be allowed back into the NFL. Well, the debt to society might be paid, but what about the debt to the NFL? Vick's behavior reflects very poorly on the NFL, not to mention that he is yet another professional athlete with a felony history. I'm not the only one getting tired of these guys behaving like the rules don't apply to them.

Let me put it this way: If I were to commit a felony, my license to practice medicine would likely be revoked, meaning I could never practice medicine again. Other professional organizations are similar. I wouldn't object if the NFL suspended him for life, although that is also highly unlikely lest they risk a racism charge. Felonies and professionalism don't mix, and Vick is a professional. With that comes responsibility and violating that responsibility carries penalties. Yes, he needs to serve time, but that's not the only consequence he should pay. My guess is the NFL will suspend him for the length of his prison term and allow the suspension to be served while in prison. The NFL tends to be gutless that way (along with all other professional sports organizations). Hopefully, the individual teams will refuse to sign him. Vick committed a major crime, and he should lose his career for it. The NAACP is wrong.


Anonymous said...

Maybe, Michael Vick should face the same punishment he imposed on under-performing animals. And if a strick punishment is not enforced, will others still commit this type of crime? To allow Vick to play professional sports again is not a option. Maybe the NAACP should direct its energy to worthwile causes, like mentoring young persons so no one believes this type of act will ever be acceptable. And realize it is just too late to try to fix Vick.

The Loop Garoo Kid said...


You have taken the under (a gambling term hence appropos here)on Vick's suspension. I will take the over. Whereas I would not bet that he will be suspended for life, I think it remains a possibility.

Whatever the NFL did in the past---I seem to recall that Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended for a year for gambling way back when--The current commissioner, Roger Goodell, seems to be taking a much harder line w/ respect to behavior that is criminal to whatever degree. Witness the suspension for a season of Adam Jones of the Titans. It is b/c Vick's behavior reflect poorly on the NFL that I think you may expect the commissioner to be hard on him. I think the best for which Vick can hope is an indefinite suspension from which he may apply for release after he is released.

Michael Vick is currently 27 years old. It seems as if he will spend at least one year in prison which means that he will not play this year and is unlikely to be able toplay the 2008 season depending on his release date.

If the NFL bans him for 5 years, his career is likely over. I think it doubtful that he will be able to make a comeback at age 33 or 34 having been totally away from the game for 5 or 6 years. It is not as if he is going to be at a team complex working out and breaking doen film. At best, he will be coaching HS, if he is lucky. I mean he will have a felony conviction.

So far as punishment is concerned, how are the mighty fallen. All of his endorsement contracts have been cancelled and the Falcons have a claim on any paid but unearned bonus he may have received.

I am not sure if I agree w/ you about professional organizations and suspensions. Initially, I think there are only three professions: yours; mine; and the oldest profession. If you or I were to commit a felony, our licenses would be revoked. Not the case w/ the oldest profession.

I think the more interesting issue is why this saddens us. We do not give a rat's patoot about the other three defendants nor would we give one about Vick if he were not a star. We think, correctly, that he had it all and he threw it away for something that had no value.

I would like to cite one of my colleagues who has his own blog. He remarked today: "If Michael Vick serves more time than Mary Winkler, the woman who shot her husband in the back with a shotgun as he lay on the bed, I'm going to lose the last vestiges of respect I have for American Justice."

Mary Winkler spent a total of seven months in custody much of it at a TN metal health facility.

Michael Vick will do more than seven months.


John Washburn said...

Loop, I hope you're right. As much as I hate to see talent like Vick wasted by stupid decisions, I feel the responsible thing for the NFL would be a HEAVY suspension. It will be interesting to find out.

Anonymous, are you suggesting a death sentence for Vick? With respect, that's a bit insane don't you think?

Anonymous said...

"The NFL tends to be gutless that way"

John, I've got to agree with the l.g. kid. New commissioner Roger Goodell has made his mark as a no-nonsense type of commish with his recent suspensions, something B. Selig and D. Stern could learn from.

I believe Vick could face a lifetime suspension from the league due to the gambling allegations that will be part of the relevant conduct portion of his pre-sentence investigation report. Everyone knows the "g" word affects the integrity of the game regardless of where Vick's wagers were placed.

The lifetime ban could be appealed and at some point may be successful, but not as long as Vick is serving out his 1-3 years of supervised release (probation) following his prison sentence. --Deano

John Washburn said...

Deano, I certainly hope you're right. Vick represents the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons. Surely one of them will be able to do something. If they do, I will have a renewed (although limited) respect for pro sports organizations.

Animal Chaplain said...

I watched Vick's public apology with my little son who USED TO wear Michael Vick jerseys to school. It is disturbing to think a certain percentage of the population is honestly going to be swayed by Michael Vick's "enlightenment" carefully crafted by his overpaid attorneys. Call me a cynic, but I don't believe a man who has been allegedly torturing animals since childhood coincidentally has a religious epiphany as a result of getting caught and losing his job. I hope I am wrong.

If there is anything good about the Michael Vick story, it is that there is an emerging increased awareness about animal cruelty and animal fighting. There is so much anger about this issue. If we channel it into a positive direction, hopefully, something good can come of it. However...

I think it is a sad commentary that we, as a culture, are using the Vick story to compare "What's worse?" "What's worse", we ask, "carelessly fathering illegitimate children, or dogfighting?". "Dogfighting or gambling?" "Dogfighting or rape?" "Dogfighting or racism?" "Dogfighting or hateful nationalism?" "Dogfighting or (fill in the blank)....?" The comparisons to dogfighting have been endless.

Dogfighting is one more piece of evidence our country is in need of a spiritual transformation (please note I said spiritual and not necessarily religious). Animals are sentient beings - they feel pain, and they suffer, just like we do. They are not more important, or less important than human beings, but like human beings, they are important, too.

Dogfighting pits one dog against another until one of them dies. The survivor gets his flesh torn off, ears ripped off, eyes pulled out, etc., and the reward for being "a winner" is to writhe in pain until the next fight. Enough said. The pictures make my flesh crawl. The losers are tortured, beaten, starved, electrocuted or drowned. For what? Because these poor creatures were unlucky enough to be born a dog!

Every major faith teaches its followers to be responsible stewards of animals and the Earth. Please help us get the word out that caring for animals, just like caring for people, is an important part of just being a decent person and citizen. If we make this a priority, there will be no more dogfighting horror stories, and no more pointless comparisons of evils. Let us all rise, together, to be better people than we are today, shall we?

Chaplain Nancy Cronk


We've all seen the cartoon of dogs
playing poker, well...

Yankee Commentaries have a similar group of dogs sitting on a Jury, deciding Mr. Vick's Fate! reb

John Washburn said...

Chaplain Nancy, thank you for your comments. I agree completely.