I’ve waited days to start this blog by labeling it the “Most Exploited Story Of The Year.” It’s certainly a topic I’d like to see in the rear view mirror, in 2008.
On July 17th Michael Vick and three co-conspirators were charged with a variety of offenses, related to dog-fighting, by a federal grand jury. The rendering of these charges basically served as a vindication for authorities who had employed tremendous resources in their investigation of the NFL star.
Although, he initially he denied any wrongdoing, Vick formally entered a guilty plea, in late-August. As part of the plea agreement, Vick admitted to conspiring to operate an illegal dog-fighting ring, as well as the killing of dogs. Although, he denied betting, he did admit to bankrolling the operation.
Vick stood defiant, at first. However, as his team of allies began to dwindle ‘one by one” and accept plea-deals, his course of action changed. It does cause one to wonder where the line of loyalty exists. Other notable characters have faced similar circumstances and have chosen (extended) incarceration over cooperation.
If you doubt this – simply consider Greg Anderson and his relationship with Barry Bonds. The former trainer has spent a considerable amount of time behind bars, in support of his friend. I’d bet Michael Vick has a clearer understanding of his “friends” after this incident.
For the sake of argument, are there any parallels between Michael Vick’s situation and those surrounding the death of Chris Benoit? Contrary to some assertions, I’m not a wrestling fan and couldn’t tell you the name of a champion of any league or association. However, both stories yielded a lot of exposure on ESPN, FoxSports, Sports Illustrated.com and other sources throughout the year.
Both of these incidents involved criminal conduct that occurred away from any field of play or clubhouse. I think the Vick story is more compelling and relevant, because the ultimate outcome affected what happened on the field. Michael Vick is in prison and not helping his team. The Atlanta Falcons have suffered as a result.
Personally, I think Michael Vick has led a very reckless and risky life. I’m not about to delve into the intimacies of his personal desires or that of “Ron Mexico” ….. but it’s been reasonable to suggest Vick’s life was headed down the wrong road for a long time. Is he a good person? I don’t know ….. but, he’s done his share of bad things.
In the end, I’m not comparing or equating the incidents involving Michael Vick or Chris Benoit. Both are tragic ….. albeit for different reasons. In the Benoit case, innocent people –some who had barely lived – died. If I’m wrong for labeling it a sports story ….. I’ve got plenty of company at the above listed sports networks.
Vick’s case is a damn shame, as well. Dog-fighting is a cruel and callous activity. I’m never going to excuse or understand it as part of one’s “culture.” In the process, Michael Vick has thrown away a stellar career and ruined his reputation. Although, he was controversial ….. he was also popular.
He may gain some popularity back one day. But, the damage is done and there’s no changing that. After his incarceration ends, he will face the wrath of Roger Goodell. Yep ….. that’s the same Roger Goodell that Vick lied to back in April.
I’ve got a feeling this story isn’t going away anytime soon.