Charge Michael Vick with grand theft too.
I watched Vick with heavy interest on January 4, 2000; it was the Virginia Tech Hokies against my FSU Seminoles in the Sugar Bowl. A victory for the ‘Noles meant a National Title—but there was Barry Sanders with a Gatling-gun arm standing in the way.
Of all the plays Vick made that night, one stands out in my mind. The play had him rolling out to the left and throwing an out to the sideline. To put the precision of the route into perspective, if Vick was right-handed, the ball would’ve been intercepted or incomplete. The fact that he was a lefty was an attribute just as valuable as his ability to outrun anyone on the field. (Steve Young automatically comes to mind).
Fast forward to January 2005: the NFC Championship Game.
Cold weather? Please! He went into Lambeau Field just two years prior and beat Brett Favre and the Packers in the snow. The Vick-led Falcons were the first team to beat Green Bay at home in the playoffs. A week later, he faced the Eagles at old Veterans Stadium and was knocked silly by Brian Dawkins after nearly scoring on a typical Vick run. Luckily, the Birds hung on to get the win in both playoff meetings.
It’s going to be hard to watch those games now without feeling some kinda way towards Vick.
The word cheated comes to mind.
Michael Vick plans to plead guilty on charges of financing a dogfighting ring (amongst others).
I’m not crazy about animals, but I felt a closeness to my sister’s dog Woody—someone was giving dogs away on her way back from Wildwood, NJ, thus the name Woody. He was half-Lab, half-Collie with a beautiful golden coat. I watched him for a week when he was a pup and he drove me nuts. I would leave, he would whine, and I'd go back in for a minute... this dog had me chasing my tail.
Until my nephew was born, Woody was The Show. After six years they gave Woody to another family—they hid it from me and I was hurt. I was surprised by how hurt I was, because whether I wanted to admit it or not...I was an animal lover.
I loved Woody.
The first thing I asked was, “Did you give him to a good family?” They did, and in my mind and heart I was relieved.
I asked because I know what happens to dogs like Woody when they get into the wrong hands: They become the unwilling sparring partners of trained killers, owned by men who seek an extension of their manhood. As a teenager, I played sports, chased girls, and played more sports—but there was a group of guys who were into dogfighting.
I’m talking 14- and 15-year-old kids walking pit bulls around with 10-pound weights hanging around their necks to build strength. Pit bulls are taught to hang onto a tire hung from a tree to make their locking jawbones stronger. Their diet consists of anything that will develop their taste for blood. Belly rubs are replaced with punches to build the level of aggression.
What was once taboo and underground is about to be thrust into the conscience of mainstream America in all of its gore.
One Hundred and Thirty Million Dollars. Gone.
Deal with Nike. Gone.
NFL Career. Going...Going...
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Michael Vick was into fighting dogs long before he played in the NFL. You don’t wake up one day and decide you want to be involved in something like this—and if you do, you need to be on someone’s couch.
Superhuman ability coupled with endless riches allowed Vick to become a major player in this blood sport. His inability to embrace his responsibilities on and off the field ruined him in the end.
Vick's “friends” have turned on him. Part of me wants to believe he’s pleading guilty because he’s been pinned into a corner and has no way out. I can’t keep tricking myself into thinking that athletes are above certain kinds of behavior. They’re human like us—they come from the same neighborhoods as some of us, and some have lived in more dire surroundings than we have.
For some reason, I always believed that the ability to make a better life for yourself would allow you to think more sensibly.
Forget keepin’ it real—that’s been done, and all I’ve seen is it being kept real stupid.
It’s time to keep it simple. A woman once told me that if you have to explain your actions, you’re probably doing something you have no business doing.
And don’t believe for a second that Michael Vick is the only athlete involved in dogfighting.
As far as race coming into play—this is all I will say on that: I'm disappointed. Not because he's a Black man who got caught doing something wrong, but because he's a Black man who blew an opportunity of a lifetime—that any of us, Black or White, would kill (no pun intended) to have had.
Vick escaped poverty; he avoided the pitfalls that claimed his friends and family members. But for whatever reason, he couldn’t let this part of his past go.
They say that money changes people. Unfortunately for Michael Vick, it didn’t change him enough.