Man Behaving Badly

Picture it: A young boy grows up in the projects in a depressed area of Newport News, Virginia. He shows an affinity for athletics early on, particularly his ability to throw a football long distances. He enrolls at Virginia Tech and is soon drafted for the NFL. His latest contract, $130 million over ten years plus a $37 million
signing bonus, makes NFL history for the largest up to that time (2004). He uses part of his wealth to work with underprivileged children in his hometown and contributes generously to a fund to assist families of those killed in the Virginia Tech massacre with funeral expenses.

A success story? No. He chances it all to operate an illegal dog fighting
and gambling business on his property in Virginia. He finances it, personally manages the gambling end and participates in executing the animals who don't perform well. He had
been doing this for six years (dating back to the beginning of his NFL career) when he was caught. He accepted a plea bargain to the felony charges, which will almost certainly involve jail time. His NFL career is in jeopardy, and indications are that he will miss this season. The owner of his team, the Atlanta Falcons, has said that even if he does return to football, he will not be returning to the Falcons. There is talk of him having to return the signing bonus (that was $37 million, in case you forgot) for violating the NFL code of conduct.

He is only 27 years old.

His name is Michael Vick, and he blew it.

Why? Why didn't the grisly sport of dog fighting, where dogs literally fight each other to the death, repel him instead of making him want to participate in it? Why didn't he have the good sense to realize what was at stake? Did anyone close to him try to warn him he was asking for trouble?

One of my co-workers was saying that he thinks its ridiculous for anyone to do jail time for killing a dog in a society where animals are slaughtered regularly for human consumption. I disagree. Slaughterhouses apply death quickly. The cattle and pigs aren't torn apart little by litt.e. One could also argue that our society also allows humans to fight (it's called boxing). We do, however, stop it at the first sign that a fighter is in danger of being beaten to death.

And there's the #1 reason. Dog fighting is against the law. My colleague also argued that Vick is being persecuted for being a celebrity. I say that's a crock. Non-famous people go to jail all the time for breaking the law. Why should he be any different?

This is a sad situation. For Michael Vick, for his family, for the people he helped with his charitable efforts, and for all those poor dogs who died.


Donna D said...

There's a good chance that Vick will never play in the NFL again as the gambling aspect of the charges violates the Player Conduct Policy that commissioner Roger Goddell has been so tough about.

The tragedy in his situation (and in Pacman Jones and the late Eddie Griffin of the Minnesota Timberwolves) is that these athletes are given such huge opportunities, but if they continue to surround themselves with such negative influences, they self-destruct on a huge national stage.

Given the opportunity to earn as much money and do as much good as Vick had, you would think that he could have simply said, "Naw, dog, I'm not about that. I'm not about to jeopardize my future for some mess like that."

I truly believe that the foundation you start out with help determine how you end up. In Vick's case, the streets won.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has ever seen dog fighting understands WHY it is illegal. I cringe to see to neighborhood mutts getting into a scrape over territory. But two animals beaten and brutalized into becoming killers . . .

It kinda makes you wonder what is in the soul of the people who find pleasure in this "sport."

What a waste of so much potential.

bettye griffin said...

Donna, I read the same thing. Time will tell if forgiveness is in the cards. If Don Imus can come back to the airwaves . . . .

Anonymous, it really does make a person wonder how this brutality could be considered "sport."

Thanks for posting!


PatriciaW said...

I do think society, and America in particular, is a bit hypocritical when it comes to treatment of animals. Consider zoo and circus animals and other situations in which we consider the confinement and sometimes ill treatment of animals okay because it's for our entertainment.

Nonetheless, my primary issue with the whole situation is that the activity, which is clearly inhumane, is illegal. A CRIME. Why do these young men risk everything they've worked so hard for by knowingly committing crimes? That's the part I don't get.

Do I think Michael Vick has been paraded and used to set an example? Oh yeah. Does he deserve that? Who's to say? Will America forgive him? Let's hope so.

bettye griffin said...

Good point about the zoos, Pat. I think Donna summed it all up nicely by saying it was a battle between him and the streets, and the streets won.


Anonymous said...

No matter what side of the coin you're on, it's a sad situation. A man who had it all is losing it all because he used bad judgment. He's being used as an example but he can't blame anyone but himself. He gave folks the ammunition to use against him.

bettye griffin said...

Yes, Shelia, unlike the people who are currently suffering the consequences of damages to their property from flood waters and fallen trees, this disaster was self-made.