“Vick-timized” by Willie Gee


This is a repeat of an excellent article Willie Gee wrote two years ago when Vick was arrested. I think it is well worth a re-read now that Vick has signed with the Eagles.

The latest developments in the Michael Vick dog fighting case seem to confirm what I have believed all along, which is that many people in powerful positions are trying to bring the man down. Although Vick is arguably one of the NFL’s greatest players and definitely the league’s most electrifying, his unconventional style of play along with his ability to “keep it real” seem to bother many members of the dominant culture. To put it bluntly, many people do not like him because he does not act white and corporate, and does not play the game like every other quarterback. I have further believed that “those people” have been out to get him for quite some time. Unfortunately, “those people” make up a disproportionately large part of the means that control society, such as the media. ESPN, in particular, has had a vendetta against this guy for at least the past year. From the middle finger incident, to the water bottle incident, and now this, Vick has taken more than his share of criticism. I mean, Kobe Bryant never took this much heat for buying his way out of a rape case. Moreover, the Feds never got involved in that one. They allowed the authorities in Eagle, Colorado to do their job, and there was no independent investigation conducted by the NBA either.

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Dog-fighting is really no less humane than many socially acceptable practices. Many people hunt, killing innocent animals, and not always to consume them as food either but just for the thrill. Would it have made things any better if Vick had sold the deceased dogs off to a Chinese restaurant or something? Many types of animals are raised under extremely harsh conditions in order to be slaughtered for factory farming. An ungodly amount of various animals are killed every day for this purpose without even a fighting chance. Although this is definitely true and many of us know it, most all of us (including me) continue to eat meat. When slaughtered, a cow’s throat and jugular are slit with a machete. They are often cut into from the side with no anesthesia for surgical reasons. And all this, my friends, is done purely in the name of minimizing costs. Now, that is cruel. On top of that, it is a practice that nearly all of us participate in on some level.

Another double standard in the outrage against Vick relates to the way in which ESPN and other media outlets embrace the sport of horse racing. Horse racing is a sport where white aristocratic elitists force specifically bred horses to race. Those horses have no choice as to whether they race or not, just as is the case with the pit bulls who fight, or even dogs who race. They are all an investment in order to gain money and attain status. In each instance, it is the investors and not the animal that look to gain. Cockfighting, where roosters battle to the death with razors on their claws, is only illegal in 48 out of the 50 U.S. states. However, cockfighting is more popular among white and Hispanic cultures while dog fighting is popular in the ghetto black culture. Furthermore, the death of Barbaro at last year’s Preakness shows that there is an element of fatal danger in horse racing as well.

Although it is a little disappointing to think that Michael Vick would deeply involve himself in something as cruel as dog fighting, what has been exponentially more disappointing is society’s reaction to the whole thing. ESPN latched onto this story like, well, a pit bull, and there has been no prying of their jaws from it either. It is like watching Sanford and Son, as every night they try to bring down the same athletes who do not conform to their standards. Every time a football player gets in a little bit of trouble, they use that to drive home the league’s new personal conduct policy. Look at the way they went after Clinton Portis just for expressing his views on dog fighting. This is still a free country, right? Someone needs to knock them off their high horse in Bristol, Connecticut. They certainly prompted the Feds to get involved in this case, which seems unprecedented since it is nothing more than a dog fighting case. The Feds need to let the Virginia prosecutors do their jobs and not interfere.

What bothers me most of all in regards to the Michael Vick dog fighting case is the fact that the NFL is conducting its own private investigation into the matter. Since the new commissioner Roger Goodell has taken over, the league has resorted to Neo-McCarthyism. The commissioner is conducting his own personal P.C. witch hunt, and he apparently believes his power is limitless. I mean, to rule the NFL like a dictator is one thing, but to conduct private investigations into legal matters is totally out of bounds on another level. What gives him the right to conduct this investigation? What if you or I just decided we wanted to investigate some murder. Could you imagine walking through some police tape at a crime scene to collect some forensic evidence? This guy really is trying to assume the role of the legal system, and he must be stopped, just as you or I would be if we tried to do such a thing. In our society, it is the role of the legal system to punish. What if the legal system formed a football league?

I am outraged about what our society has come to. It is no longer about what a player does on the field, it is all about making money and being corporate. LeBron is encouraged by ESPN to be a greedy capitalist (and be friends with Warren Buffet) while Stephan Marbury is given little love for creating a $15 shoe without the use of slave labor. It is much less about winning than it is about presenting yourself as someone Nike or Reebok can market. These major corporations are running professional football and basketball, and running it straight into the ground. They want someone who they view as safe, and the leagues now want the same, which discourages the exciting and original personalities that once made sports so fun. If Nike, Disney, ESPN, and the NFL have their way Michael Vick could become the latest “Vick”-tim of this witch hunt that the fans need to wise up to before it is really too late. However, if this must happen, I would not mind seeing them throw Vick out of the NFL because he is one man who could truly make a league. Joe Namath is loved for “making a league” when his team won the 1969 Super Bowl. Maybe Vick could make the league that overtakes the NFL. You gave up too early with the XFL, Vince McMahon. However, before any of this happens, I hope Vick gets a Super Bowl this year to rub in their face.