Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mike Vick: Dogged for Life?

Anyone who drives has seen the bumper sticker: THE MORE PEOPLE I MEET, THE MORE I LIKE MY DOG. That sentiment turns into frothing rage when it concerns Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Mike Vick.

We're a few years removed from his prison release, and his dogfighting past has resurfaced. Why? Because Vick put a photo on Twitter that revealed a box of dog biscuits. He has a dog! MICHAEL VICK OWNS A DOG!? Yep. He had them bones, them bones, them MilkBones in his possession. After a couple days of Vick ducking a confirmation, those intrepid media types dug until they struck gold.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been worried about this for a few years.

Some people seem to care more about animals than other humans. That may not be true, but at times it seems that way. The Darfurs and child abuse victims of the world don't move the emo-needle .. at least not as much as images of cows being shuffleboarded around by forklifts. Or the mental image of Vick and his friends laughing as they torture and slaughter dogs.
ESPN published Nils Lofgren's rant in 2010, when the musician argued for banning Vick from pro football. Hurt and demoralized was part of Lofgren's puzzling sign-off. Does every injustice, every instance of violence and cruelty, affect Lofgren this way? If so, he must be exhausted by bedtime. Back then, he wrote:

"The cynic in me thinks maybe if Vick were a third-string lineman, the NFL would have set an example and banned him for life."

Lofgren might be correct. But.. Vick isn't a lineman. He's a starting quarterback in the NFL. A handful of men on the planet can do what he does, and that makes him (or his body, his talent, whatever) a valuable commodity. Anyone who's capable of absorbing this very sentence knows: where ever you go, the rules are different depending on who you are. Swing away at that fact all day and it won't change.
This letter to the sports community takes on new meaning in the wake of the dog treat photo, almost two years later. Lofgren tried to shame the sports media and fans who either welcomed or shrugged at Vick's return to the league. But the cynicism and bottom-line mindset in sports is just representative of every other aspect of our world.
Besides, it is laughable that a career rock musician isn't familiar with the theme of rich, privileged entertainers getting away with things. You can be assured that some of his contemporaries have done the most reprehensible things we've never heard of. That is not idle speculation. I've read some of their books.
Lofgren: "Maybe many of the other significant charges Vick was facing wouldn't have gone away if he didn't have the prestige of being an NFL quarterback who can afford high-priced lawyers to wrangle pleas and deals." Again--I'm sure if we replace "Vick" and "NFL quarterback" with many of Lofgren's peers over the years, the above quote would still stand.
At least he wasn't as silly as Tucker Carlson, who actually called for Vick's execution. Clearly Carlson was crying for attention. But if Vick deserved to die for what he did, what have the architects of America's wars earned?

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