King’s Court

Sometimes you just have to shake your head.

Michael Vick, ambassador for the game of football, has admitted to fighting dogs over about a five-year period.

Make no mistake, what Vick did was bad. Dog fighting is an inhumane and grisly “sport”, but it’s hard to imagine that there are people out there who actually support it. Vick was one of those people.

And then he apologized. In front of hundreds of reporters and thousands of viewers on. Vick poured his heart out on national television. He was sympathetic, convincing, and downright pathetic.
And he was also lying.

Vick can talk all he wants about finding God. He can continue to apologize to all the people he hurt. But the fact remains that he showed no contrition until the FBI had him cornered.

“Not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and blame anyone else for my actions,” Vick said.

That’s funny. Shortly after pleading not guilty to dog-fighting charges, Vick said, “I take these charges very seriously and look forward to clearing my good name.”

Is that the same good name that brutally killed dogs? The one who accused family and friends of abusing his generosity to breed and fight dogs at his house, while he claimed to know nothing about it?

Now that Vick has apologized, NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw will likely be under more fire than he was before for not supporting Vick.

“Speaking personally, as I have previously stated, the practice of dog fighting is offensive and completely unacceptable,” Upshaw said in a statement. “I can only hope that Mr. Vick, who is a young man, will learn from this awful experience.”

Upshaw is dead on. Yes, the players union is there to defend players when there is controversy, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Would the union be expected to back a player who committed murder? The killing of dogs is equivalent murder, no matter which way you spin it.

But some analysts think otherwise. Howard Bryant of went so far as to write that Upshaw’s statement “read as an abandonment of Vick and a capitulation to [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell.”

Upshaw is not supporting Goodell; he is simply not supporting Vick because he believes it is the best move he can make for the NFL. The union has been, and will continue to be, in support of players in question. Just ask Tennessee Titans’ return-man Pacman Jones or 10 percent of the Cincinnati Bengals squad.

The fact of the matter is that right now the players in the NFL have a worse reputation than at any point in the league’s 87-year history.

Had Upshaw sided with Vick, he would have sent the wrong message to not only all young players in the NFL, but all professional athletes.

It might not matter now, though. Vick’s apology was believable. It was believable enough that it now appears to have actually convince people that he has changed. And it may have been believable enough to bring him back into the NFL sometime during 2009 when his prison sentence has ended.

And there you have it. Vick is likely to end up not much more worse off than he was before the incident. He has done so by lying, the same way he stayed afloat when the dog-fighting issue first came to light.
Sometimes you just have to shake your head.