BQB-Site.com Editor Lloyd Vance gives his take on the Michael Vick federal indictment for alledged Dog Fighting.
recently chronicled "Black Quarterback" Historian in the ESPN book and
documentary “Third and a Mile”, I have been constantly asked what is my take on
the whole Michael Vick dog fighting melodrama. In my research and with my
website (BQB-Site.com), I have always tried to accentuate the positives of the
African American quarterback's journey preferring to tell the public about “how”
far the black quarterback has evolved over a relatively short period of time
including their triumphs and obstacles overcome. But I also recognize that the
Michael Vick dog fighting story including the 27-year old Falcons quarterback
being indicted yesterday along with three others on charges that they sponsored
dogfighting is extremely topical and won't go away. Some (including Washington
Redskins RB Clinton Portis) may hold the opinion that it is only “dogs’ we are
talking about, but the case is a lexicon of stories within a story that include
the Humanity of Dog Fighting, Race, Athletic Privilege, NFL Policing and several
other topics that will be debated on talk radio, message boards, blogs, the
“water cooler”, and every else that supercedes your average athlete
jurisprudence story. The case called “"Bad Newz Kennels," was chronicled in a
scathing 18-page federal indictment that alleges Vick and his co-defendants have
been involved in the dogfighting operation since 2001, which would go back to
his rookie year with the Falcons after being the 1st overall pick in the 2001
Vick outside of marquee quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady is the NFL’s other poster player. You can’t turn on the television or read any kind of the news on the NFL without seeing the charismatic, hip, young, and African-American Vick, who to me is truly the football player that is “now”. He is debatably the most electrifying player in the NFL, which just happens to be the most popular game in the United States by far and he has brought “Streetball” to the masses where every NFL game that he plays in is like running around the Buick in the street to score a touchdown or a live action version of mega game EA Sports John Madden football. He definitely is not your typical quarterback with his talents, style of play, and public image debated often. He is coming off an already difficult 2006 season that saw him become the first quarterback to run for 1,000 yards in a season (1,039 yards) and established a career high of 20 TD’s passing, but he didn’t lead the Falcons to the playoffs for the 2nd straight year while throwing for a bad 54% completion percentage and looking like a high school quarterback in some games throwing for less than 100 yards. The end of the season didn’t treat him any better as he clashed with his since fired coach Jim Mora, was fined $10,000 for flipping the bird to local fans, had the water bottle incident at the airport, and missed a flight to D.C. to lobby before members of Congress for increased funding for after-school programs. Those incidents were only the tip of the iceberg compared to the extreme public flogging that is coming from the millions of dog owners in the United States, who will now treat him like ‘ Persona non grata’ and turn their ire on him for the despicable practice of dogfighting. Can you imagine when he is announced in opposing stadiums and “Who let the dogs out” is blaring as fans scream who knows what at the mercurial quarterback.
It is hard to believe that Vick has fallen so quickly, because in the past he was popular enough that his #7 jersey was the number two seller among NFL players (Reebok – 2005) and he was on the cover Madden in 2004, even though he has not even been to a Super Bowl. I think that public, like myself wanted to believe that one of our heroes could not allegedly be involved in such a reprehensible crime. I wrestled with writing and saying anything on the situation for some time, because I know how some in the media love a negative story and I wanted to see if any of the months of hearsay were going to lead to anything. In the back of my mind I always hoped for the best giving Vick the benefit of doubt and believed that he had the problem of surrounding himself with the wrong kind of the people including some family members taking advantage of him. As we now know there was “fire” from the months of “smoke” and Vick, who was described as a “heavyweight” in a recent ESPN investigative interview has been implicated. Will he be exonerated, convicted, plea-bargained, or any other legal word, we will have to wait and see. I first and foremost believe that before the public flogging of one of the NFL’s stars begins that patience is necessary. The indictment, which some people thought wasn’t coming (Sorry Mort) is now here and it is the first round of a lengthy process. The process will definitely hangover the upcoming NFL season much like the Pacman Jones suspension or Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle incident last year. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said Vick would not be arrested and instead he was ordered to appear in U.S. District Court in Richmond for his first hearing on July 26th, which ironically is one the first days of Falcons training camp. I suspect the case will have postponements and other legal wrangling, so I am more interested in “where” certain individuals/entities from this soap opera will go from here.
---Michael Vick: The Falcons are scheduled to report to training camp on July 25th, but I am sure that his number one concern is the nightmare that, If convicted, he could face up to six years in prison, $350,000 in fines and restitution. I don’t know how he is going to be able to concentrate on a playbook, but I sure he will be on the field if allowed to and he will let his attorney’s handle the case. I am sure until camp and through the season he will continue to go in bunker mode and try to concentrate on getting the Falcons back into the playoffs. He has already gotten a “politically correct” haircut forgoing the braids, put the alledged property of dogfighting for sale, and cancelled most of his public appearance including his camp for kids. I just hope that he will start to surround himself with the right people. He was already correctly told by his former Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer at the NFL draft in April, 'If you're around, you're involved,' and then he added "People don't care about those other people. They're not going to write about them, but they'll write about you". The coach was oh too right and hopefully Vick heeds his words. Vick also will probably lose endorsements (AirTran already dumped him and I will want to see how Nike reacts), but to the public remember that Ray Lewis rehabilitated his image to the point he is back on commercials after being implicated and then being exonerated in a double-homicide, Vick can only hope to be so lucky.
---NFL/Roger Goodell - The major impllications of the indictment falls on the
entity that is the National Football League. "We are disappointed that Michael
Vick has put himself in a position where a federal grand jury has returned an
indictment against him," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. He added "The
activities alleged are cruel, degrading and illegal. Michael Vick's guilt has
not yet been proven, and we believe that all concerned should allow the legal
process to determine the facts." Recently the league has had an image problem
that has kept Commissioner Roger Goodell on the offensive developing a
reputation as a hanging judge. He suspended Titans CB Pacman Jones (2006
season), Bengals WR Chris Henry (8 games), and former Bears DT Tank Johnson (8
games) under the new and still developing NFL player-conduct policy. I would
suggest that the NFL let the legal process play out, because they are now taking
on a bonafide superstar and he will probably have the full support of the NFLPA
and its lawyers. The other players listed have had multiple incidents and Vick
has never gotten in trouble other than the airport incident (remember Marcus
Vick his brother has had the legal problems). Goodell he will have to let the
entire incident go through, probably some time at the end of or after the 2007
has played. If the charges are found to be true then I am sure the Commish will
act swiftly and you may see several season long suspensions handed down, but
Goodell needs to sit back. Goodell gave a small piece of his mind to Vick at the
draft commenting "I was very clear with Michael," and saying to him "People
living in your house and people on your property [are] your responsibility. He
needed to make sure he surrounded himself with people who were going to treat
him properly and represent him the way he wanted to be."
---Atlanta Falcons/Owner Arthur Blank: Mr. “Home Depot” Blank has a huge cleanup in aisle #7. Blank has always been a huge proponent of the Vick and has always been in his corner through out his career, but I think the situation is wearing on him. Blank hold all the cards when it comes to Vick, because in the NFL a player can be cut at anytime and their contracts are not guaranteed. Recently we saw the Bears cut Tank Johnson two days after he was pulled over for speeding. The Falcons would have to eat some of the signing bonus money (An estimated salary cap hit of about $6 million this year and $15 million in 2008 if they release Vick) from Vick’s 2004 contract extension of 10-year; $130 million that included guarantees of a then NFL-record $37 million . I have a feeling from talking to people in the Atlanta area that Blank will have another heart to heart talk with Vick, but he will not suspend or cut him. He may offer him a leave of absence, but that would be unprecedented and Vick needs his football family. If Blank did cut Vick, it would be interesting to see if any other teams would sign him, because the NFL is a small clandestine group that has been known to outcast players. I will also be real interested to see how new coach Bobby Petrino and GM Rich McKay handle the situation, but I have a feeling that Blank calls the shots and Vick will be on the field. Besides who would they turn to Lions first round bust Joey Harrington or little used 3rd stringer DJ Shockley ??
Stay tuned for the next episode of the ‘Young and the Restless’ NFL style.
--- Submitted by Lloyd Vance