Fans, league should throw embattled QB Vick a bone

first_imgMichael Vick is a criminal. Michael Vick is stupid. Michael Vick is inhumane. Michael Vick is crashing and burning. But Michael Vick is not, as Pardon the Interruptions’ Michael Wilbon put it, “the scum of the earth.” And Michael Vick is surely not the most deplorable person to don an NFL uniform in recent years. By now, everyone in this country knows of the controversy surrounding the embattled Falcons quarterback who pled guilty to federal charges stemming from his participation in a dog-fighting venture that operated from property he owned. The 18-page indictment includes horrific portions that detail the execution of approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in “testing” sessions by various methods. These methods include hanging, drowning and slamming a dog’s body to the ground.The NFL has suspended the 27-year-old quarterback indefinitely without pay following his admission of guilt. The plea has possibly ended his tumultuous career with the Atlanta Falcons and will likely land him in prison while he is in the prime of his NFL career. Since July 17, when Vick was officially indicted, it seems as though every American has become a member of PETA, and outside of Georgia, a Vick hater. Animal-rights groups have assembled against Vick, protesting at NFL headquarters in New York, and many corporate sponsors have dropped him.The acts Vick committed are offensive, shocking and gruesome. Nonetheless, Vick’s actions are not unforgivable and they do not warrant the scrutiny the three-time pro-bowler is receiving. Organizing a dog-fighting venture is no more merciless than trapping animals for their fur. It is no more heartless than exploiting elephants for the ivory their tusks and teeth produce. It is no more disgusting than starving cows in solitary confinement until they are skinny enough to produce veal. And it is certainly no worse than the conduct many NFL players engage in on a consistent basis. The summer of discontent in the sporting world is headlined by the Vick dog-fighting scandal, overshadowing the likes of NBA official Tim Donoughy, Barry Bonds’ tainted home run record and the halfway house known as the National Football League. The most disturbing part of the Vick scandal is that the media and football fans have turned the former Virginia Tech standout into public enemy No. 1. That label would be more fitting for a number of candidates whose actions have affected the lives of human beings. As of July 2007, Tennesse Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones has been arrested on five occasions and questioned by police 11 times since being drafted in 2005. That gives Jones one more arrest than interceptions since the start of his eventful NFL career. Jones’ arrests, which generally occur at nightclubs, include allegations of assault and felony vandalism. In 2006, Jones was cited for misdemeanor assault for allegedly spitting in the face of a female student from Tennessee State University. At the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, Jones, according to club owners, grabbed a female dancer by the hair and slammed her head to the stage. He also allegedly threatened a security guard’s life prior to a member of Jones’ entourage opening fire inside the club, hitting three people and leaving one person paralyzed from the waist down. So where is ESPNEWS’ round-the-clock coverage of Jones’ legal troubles? Where is the live cut-in to legal analyst Roger Cossack for Pacman’s courthouse proceedings? And speaking of scum of the earth, look no further than former Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, whose wrap sheet includes gun charges, aggravated assualt and resisting arrest. Johnson and Jones’ continued disregard for the law has threatened the lives of human beings, not animals. Thankfully, NFL commisioner Roger Goodell suspended Jones for at least the first 10 games of the upcoming season, and the Bears recently sent Tank packing. But no one seems to be calling for their heads on a silver platter. Hundreds of protestors are nowhere to be found when Johnson makes his way out of a Chicago courthouse. The Bengals had nine players arrested in a nine-month span and were the main reason Goodell introduced a conduct policy that determines penalties and holds franchises responsible for their player’s actions. Three Bengals were arrested for drunken driving, one for burglary and one for spousal abuse. Bengals wide-out Chris Henry has been charged with pulling a gun on a group of people in Orlando, speeding and drunken driving, and providing alcohol to minors. Where was the outrage? Where were the season-long suspensions? Where was Reebok’s discontiuation of Henry’s jerseys, as the company did with Vick’s? Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen has been arrested for driving under the influence a total of 3 times within 4 years, yet he will only receive a two-game suspension in 2007. In 2005, then Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis reported to federal prison camp to serve a four-month sentence for using a cell phone to set up a cocaine deal. The penalty was worked out in plea agreement in which prosecutors agreed to drop more serious drug conspiracy charges. Lewis’ legal troubles went under the radar, compared to Vick’s, and landed him a whopping two-game suspension by the NFL. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice in conjunction to a murder he was originally arrested for. That didn’t stop Lewis from being named Super Bowl MVP and Defensive Player of the Year later in his career, while being adored by fans. These are grown men charged with driving drunk, assaulting women and waving guns around with no regard for human life. They are the scum of the earth, and they should never, ever play football again. The coverage Vick is receiving is over-the-top and completely disproportional to prior criminal activity committed by NFL players and professional athletes as a whole. NFL players have gotten away with murder, both figuratively and literally, over the last few years, yet dog-fighting has sent the media and fans into hysteria.Dog-fighting is disgusting and barbaric and Vick should do the jail time he deserves. But dog-fighting is not even close to the worst crime committed by a professional athlete, and it certainly should not prevent Vick from ever returning to the NFL. Kluger’s Korner appears periodically throughout the semester. He can be reached at [email protected]last_img

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