Saturday, August 25, 2007

Desensitization

I've been, I'll admit, dragging my feet. I've been obsessing because, to be honest, I'm torn.

But I had a revelation today.

Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons quarterback, said, via his attorney on Monday, that he will plead guilty to federal charges of conspiracy associated with an illegal dogfighting operation that Vick participated in. Allegedly, Vick operated a Kennel-"Bad Newz Kennels"-from his multi-million dollar Virginia home. Vick is purported to have provided the operating and gambling funding for the operation. He's also said to have organized fights-in which dogs were often forced to fight to their death. Others indicted implicated him as an active participant in the euthanization of at least eight dogs (deemed unfit to fight), by strangling or drowning. Government agents who raided the home are said to have found, among other paraphernalia, muzzles, whips, cages, shocking devices, and "rape stands" (to which overly aggressive dogs were strapped and forced to breed).

I asked a few colleagues, off-hand, what they thought-if they felt Vick deserved a second chance. And I've got a broad range of responses. And I've read a number of stories on the internet, and they run the gamut too. It seems the jury is still out on this one-and I think I know why.

Let me ask you: what is the sole purpose of a professional football player? It's NOT to win. It's not even, really, to do a great job at his position. It's, simply stated, to attract fans to their games (as well as to the television to WATCH their games). There are various methods of accomplishing this-including winning, doing a fantastic job as a quarterback, and even by acting outrageously on the field (like Terrell Owens)-but at the end of the day, what matters is attracting fans.

You see, football is all about economics. We've sat here for the last few days, waiting for a "sign" from the owners and managers of the Falcons, or even for some sort of statement from other coaches, managers or owners. But the reality is, they're waiting for a sign from US. Because (this is my big insight) WE are the ones who decide whether or not Vick gets a second chance.

Some of you, partakers of this healthy, yet sumptuous, fare called MyndFood, have voted on my most recent poll. Of those who actually know who Vick is, the majority of you (around 60%) don't feel Vick deserves a second chance. It surprises me, actually, that the percentage isn't higher (for those who've followed this in the news, you know the public outcry has been HUGE). Which is ironic-considering the fact that, in 1998, Leonard Little, St. Louis Rams defensive end was driving, intoxicated, and caused an automobile accident, killing another motorist. He received a slap on the hand-90 days in jail, four years of probation, and 1000 hours of community service.

In 2004 he was again arrested for driving under the influence. He was acquitted of drunk driving, but was convicted of speeding.

He signed, in 2006, a three year contract extension with the Rams.

Which brings me around to my point. Do I think Vick deserves a second chance? Yes. Everyone deserves a second chance (and perhaps a third, fourth, fifth, twelfth...). Will he get one? Absolutely! If there's profit to be had (and it's not a bad thing folks-don't get me wrong), he'll be hired again in a heartbeat. That is, there will be 32 coaches, General Managers and owners out there WILLING to give him a second chance-but will only put their money where their mouth is if YOU, the voting public, will accept him, and support their team.

But I'm not sure if you will. Why? I can't say. Hypocritical, to say the least, considering Leonard Little's experience. But then, we Americans, have a skewed perspective. I asked a gentleman, in passing, whether or not Vick deserved a second chance and he said, "Absolutely not!" I asked him why not. He said because animals and children are helpless beings, and he feels no sympathy for Vick.

Apparently drivers killed when in vehicles that are hit by drunken drivers are NOT helpless. Do you see? It has nothing to do with animals being helpless, it has to do with the fact that we're desensitized-motorists killed by drunken drivers have become "normal" news fodder, and it doesn't affect us any more. On the other hand, drowned dogs and rape stands-that shocks and incenses us! No second chances!

I'm not asking you to change your stance. If you truly feel he's lost all value to society, and can never regain any status as a productive member of an NFL team, fine; I respect your opinion. But I AM asking you to re-evaluate your reasoning. If it's simply because you're shocked and dismayed, then think again.

I, for one, hope to see him on the field again.

By the way Michael: if you happen to be reading this, I think your best chance is with the Raiders...

11 comments:

SheGazelle said...

After re-evaluating my reasoning... THIS FILTHY PIG SHOULD BE FED TO HIS DOGS!!!!
:-D That felt good. Anyway, my opinion is what he did to those poor dogs was only a manifestation of his fouled up mental state. He needs to have his stinking head checked and FIXED before he's released into the general population. The NFL can do what's best for the NFL- I don't really care. As long as he's done his time, received the proper treatment for his brain damage and so forth, then who cares if he plays football. Maybe when he does start playing again, the other players can throw him down and chew HIM up! What a freak...

Anonymous said...

Do you know what you get when you take a 10 cent scum bucket,street punk and and push him through college on a football scholarship(when he most likey can not read), then sign him up for a million plus contract with the Falcons??
A million dollar plus scum bucket, street punk.
That's an value to society? Just because he can throw a football?

Talent and money, does not give anyone a license to be a criminal and get off with a "slap".
I'm sorry (well no not really), but after reading this guy's Bio, he's already had his second chances and then some.
And,while i agree that we Americans have become somewhat desensitized,(main point of your post I realize) to drunk drivers,and,that others got off scott free (by the way nobody gave me a vote on Leonard Little or he would have got the "book" too)in times past,is no excuse not to throw the book at Vick. Do we disipline our own children based on something we allowed another to get away with last week because " Well, I let Johnny off now I gotta be fair"? I would hope not.
Maybe I'm missed something in the meaning of your post, if so I appologize, but,this guy is not someone I would want my son to look up to or invite to dog sit for me on the weekend.
If he was still on the street, couldn't throw a football for love or money. Would we let him get away with it? I think not...
Your right, it is Economics.
Sickening...

And just for the record- I love football with the best of them.
Just my humble opinion.... Stepping down off my soap box now....

By the way, I enjoy reading your blog very much. Keep writing :)

michel russ said...

I wanted to comment on this because generally I don't get "into" things like this, however, a thought came to me yesterday: Sure, he's done something illegal - we all know that...should he play again or not is another question that ultimately brings up many more. For instance, his career as a football player is a "job" albeit a far cry from many of our jobs. However, when someone gets busted for having some type of drug on them or have a felony for any certain reason...they have problems getting a job again. Their past haunts them and makes finding a good job an extrememly hard task. What I'm trying to say is, Vick has done wrong and I think he should be punished for it and when he's served his time and fulfilled his restitution. What about football again? Sure!!! But what I'd like to point out is that he will most likely get to play football much quicker than my friend who had a felony got a job. You're right, it's all about economics and the system just doesn't hold up sometimes...all for a name or a certain amount of money. I don't care if Vick plays again or not, but I wish there was a way to bring the payment/restition part to the rest of the "not so famous", "not so well-known" world. Too bad some have to struggle to make anything out of themselves after they scar their reputation - can't there be liberty and justice for all?

PJ said...

Thanks for the kind words Anonymous!

And Michel! Long time, no see! Good to hear from you again!

Let me say this, Michel: you've hit the nail on the head here! You're absolutely on-point. There is a double standard that's imposed BECAUSE of the economics, isn't there?

Sad...

Anonymous said...

I think in the end we are all saying the same thing. Some of us are just a little more dramatic about it. lol
It is definitely economics.

Shane said...

I think Michael Vick is the victim. Already, without going to jail, he has paid more then he should have to for killing a few dogs. Try 130 million dollars over ten years plus his 30+ million dollar signing bonus. It doesn’t stop there, what about a multi-million dollar contract with Nike? If he does get back into the NFL it will be for a microscopic fraction of his original contract. 25,000 dogs are not worth HALF of what he is paying for it. On top of all this he will get jail time. Everything seems to be blown out of proportion when a “star” is put under the spotlight. What did that guy get in Tulare get when he tossed a half a dozen puppies into a wood shredder? Not even 36 months in jail. Who? EXACTLY! Look the story up on the net and good luck finding it. Why didn’t that knucklehead make EVERY news market in the world for a month straight? Why don’t you fine him 200 million dollars? Why not make him get up at a news conference and apologize to the world. Michael Vick is the victim because he is a great football player that makes more money then 99.9999999% of us. The world needs to get a life and worry about something that is more important then Michael Vick and dog fighting. Think about all the resources spent on this. THOUSANDS of news agencies spending THOUSANDS of hours reporting this crud across the world. What is it with this world that people are so caught up with what the rich and famous are doing or not doing? WHAT A JOKE…

PJ said...

You know, I've been thinking about Michel's comments, and I think he has a great point. It seems, doesn't it Michel, that second chances come easier to the folks who SHOULD, perhaps, be held to a slightly higher standard because of all the eyes watching them.

Proof positive that justice really ISN'T blind, is it? Again, great comment. Thanks.

PJ said...

Oh, and Mr. Vick? If you ever find yourself in a dark part of town with either shegazelle or Anonymous? Do yourself a favor and run for your life!

PJ said...

Shane:

You make a great point-but allow me to put a slightly different spin on it.

Yes, as you say, his indiscretion has already cost him much. Without question.

But isn't it true that to whom much is given, much is required? He knew, going into this, what he had to lose. I will admit that it'll end up costing him dearly before it's all said and one. But he's NOT the victim; he, knowing what he had to lose, chose the course that led him here. And I'll agree with you that he's turned into unfortunate news fodder-but he also knew, going in, that all eyes would be on him as long as he was in the spotlight.

You see, you can't take the upside associated with being a star, but not want the downside (namely that you are held to a little higher standard-although, read Michel's comment; he makes a point that argues even that). If you're not willing to live a buttoned up life in the heat of the spotlight, then you should say no to the good life that goes along with it.

Does that make sense? I'm not saying it's either right or wrong. I'm simply saying that it's reality (it's economics).

PJ said...

An interesting post from a few days ago, over at Sand in The Gears, that seems applicable...

I encourage you to copy and paste it into your browser, and go check it out.

http://www.tonywoodlief.com/archives/001247.html#001247

deanna said...

Tonight in church our speaker made an interesting comment that struck me and I just knew it was meant for this discussion. Somehow he got on the subject of Michael Vick, he said that he heard RUSH LIMBAUGH say That its a sad thing when we make such a big deal when someone kills a few dogs, but we kill thousands of babies everyday.