Mike Lupica, NY Daily News
Michael Vick takes a fall now he never thought he would take, not for five minutes at the start of this. Michael Vick now finds out that this is how it works in the real world, the world of accountability for the kind of no-account people who thought they could run a sick dogfighting ring known as the Bad Newz Kennels and get away with it. This really is how it works in the real world, even for a big sports star, not the Barry Bonds world, where friends go to jail for you instead of rolling on you the way Vick's friends rolled on him.
Michael Vick, No.7 of the Falcons, is the one who thought he would roll here, the way he could roll out of the pocket and make the biggest and most famous football stadiums in this country come to a stop. The way he could make tacklers stop, and miss, as he ran past them. Vick wasn't a huge winner yet in the National Football League, and maybe never would have been. But you don't have to win anymore in sports to be the kind of star Vick had become, in a very short time.
From the time Vick was a teenager, from the time he first started making tacklers miss with his dazzling speed and talent and almost a jazz man's gift of improvisation, he had existed in the world of stars and celebrity, where the rules are supposed to be different.
Please remember what he said through his lawyers, because he was lawyered up good by then, on courthouse steps not so long ago:
"Today I pleaded innocent to allegations made against me ... I look forward to clearing my good name. I respectfully ask all of you to hold your judgment until all the facts are shown. Above all, I'd like to say to my mom I'm sorry for what she's gone through in this most trying of times. It has caused pain to my family and I apologize to my family. I also want to apologize to my teammates for not being with them at the beginning of spring training."
So he said he was sorry to his mom and he probably said the same to the commissioner of his league, Roger Goodell, and told him that he knew nothing of this dogfighting house that he was accused of funding, on a day when he absolutely should have told Goodell the truth. Michael Vick didn't come out and say that he was innocent at the courthouse that day, he said he had pleaded innocent. That is lawyer talk. Judges hear a lot of it, before trials and after trials and sometimes for trials that never happen, from people a lot less rich and famous than Vick, but with the same exact thing to lose, which means their freedom.
There will be all this speculation about what kind of football future Vick has now that he has pleaded guilty to these federal dogfighting charges, involving conspiracy and interstate commerce and all the rest of it, charges that can get you five years in prison but will probably get Vick just one. There will be all this speculation about what kind of player he might be after doing time. But for as long as he is in jail, Vick ought to think about what kind of person he wants to be when he gets out, whether he finds another team that wants him or not. He ought to wonder what kind of person got involved in something as terrible as dogfighting, however much he was involved, ask himself what kind of athlete thinks that is some kind of acceptable sport.
He sure ought to think about what kind of friends he had or thought he had, ones to whom he always said he had to be so loyal. This case isn't about race, even though there are people who want it to be. It is about values and judgment and skewed definitions of friendship, and accountability. If it isn't some kind of alarm sounding throughout sports, where a lot of guys, white and black and Hispanic, aren't taking a closer look at all those around them, it ought to be.
You can talk about the irony of the public, a public that loves the violence of pro football, finding a different kind of violence shameful and unacceptable. You know there are athletes who have committed other crimes, been behind the wheels of cars when people died, been accused of rape, and never have seen the inside of a jail cell the way Vick will. And yet what Vick and Quanis Phillips and Purnell Peace and Tony Taylor are accused of, will plead guilty to - including the execution of "underperforming" dogs - is the behavior of bums. Sometimes you still go to jail for that.
Sometimes this is how it happens when you break the law and then think telling the truth about it is some sort of last resort.
In the end, Vick ended up with friends like Phillips, Peace, Taylor. When the law came after Bonds for steroids, he had Greg Anderson, personal trainer, running interference for him. Greg Anderson: Who seems willing to sit forever rather than roll on baseball's all-time home run king, perhaps say that Bonds knew exactly what performance-enhancing drugs he was taking, and thus perjured himself in front of a grand jury when he said he did not.
Nobody is suggesting that what Bonds did is close to what Vick did. Nobody is comparing steroids to torturing animals. But there are laws about steroids the way there are about dogfighting. And laws about telling the truth. Bonds has a right, even as the grand jury still comes after him, to think that he exists above some laws. Michael Vick no longer does.
Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm".
Henry David Thoreau
Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.
"Luck is the residue of design." - Branch Rickey