By Michael Wilbon
Saturday, August 25, 2007; E01
It's right there in black and white, on page 9 of the papers Michael Vick and his attorneys filed in federal court yesterday. Vick agrees and stipulates that he himself helped kill dogs. Damn. The exact words are "collective efforts." Vick admits he participated in this ruthless act with his co-defendants. It's no longer an allegation or simply the word of some ex-friends ratting him out to save their own hides. It's Michael Vick, star NFL quarterback, admitting he endorsed the killing of dogs by methods including hanging and drowning. Wow. That's the showstopper for a lot of us, not whether he's guilty of a conspiracy charge, not even that his dogfighting enterprise involved illegal gambling activities.
Of course, it's all one big sordid mess, from the dog killings to the gambling and lying about everything, which led NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce yesterday afternoon that Vick would be suspended indefinitely. Of course, he needs to be sent away for a while. The statements of facts are even worse than many of us expected. Turns out it's just as the co-conspirators said, just as Vick's estranged daddy said when he told The Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week that his boy has been involved in dogfighting for years.
Personally, I'd like to see Vick locked in a cage with six to eight of those pit bulls and nothing but his hands to use in his own defense.
Goodness, yes, an eye for an eye is sometimes the only just punishment.
Short of that, Vick needs to simply go away for a while. Don't expect a long discussion here on whether he should or shouldn't have the chance to play again. He should. If he pays his debt to society in the way this country's legal system demands, and if somebody in the free market that is the NFL wants to employ him once he is reinstated, then he should play and face whatever the consequences might be.
And yes, Goodell is going to provide Vick with the chance to be reinstated at some point. When? Who knows. Maybe before the 2009 season, perhaps 2010. Even with what the NFL calls "lifetime bans" for players who have run afoul of the league's substance abuse policy for a third time, there is opportunity for reinstatement.
The moronic Vick apologists will want to spin this ahead and say, "It's behind him now" when it's anything but behind him. It'll take years to put this behind him. People will be harder on Vick for this than they would be for battering his wife, the logic of which, frankly, escapes me. Still, if Vick thinks his 4.4 speed will allow him to quickly outrun this he's so wrong.
No, it's all in front of us to digest, like Vick admitting that he provided most of the "Bad Newz Kennels" operational and gambling funds. You think that doesn't scare the NFL? A star quarterback involved in the enterprise that attracts all manner of people looking for "inside" information and a way to manipulate the nation's most important sport for huge financial gain? The gambling admission scares the NFL more than the dog killings because the G-word brings it all a little too close to home.
This whole Michael Vick episode just gets sleazier every day. Even while revealing to reporters that he tried to get his son to stop being involved with dogfighting, Vick's daddy, Michael Boddie, reveals himself as a total sleaze. It was chilling to read the sentence from one of the interviews with him: "I wish people would stop sugarcoating it. This is Mike's thing." It's not that I doubt the father's word in this instance, just that his motives are so obvious and he's so brazen in setting up what he hopes will be a money grab.
His boy, remember, is paying his rent. His boy, the QB, has been giving him cash payments every month to keep pop flush. And what does daddy do after asking for $1 million then $700,000, but rat him out? Hey, now that the meal ticket has blown more than $100 million of a $130 million contract, not to mention tens of millions in endorsement contracts, appearance fees and perks, the old man has to market himself, right?
Can't you just see daddy coming out with a tell-all book of his own in the coming months to try and cash in the only way he can?
Sometimes when you look at the father you'll get a hint into why the son has no clue as to accountability or even humanity.
Now, all that's left are the pictures and sound of Vick in court in Richmond on Monday, Vick in the orange jumpsuit or whatever color it is as he walks into prison, and Vick being interviewed by Larry King or Barbara Walters or maybe on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" as he tries to begin his personal rehabilitation. Every step along the way, for the five weeks since Vick was indicted, we think it can't get any worse, any more bizarre, any more unsavory. But it does, and with reaction that this is sure to elicit, with the protests and examinations of race and culture and how we try to make sense of something that is so senseless, it shouldn't surprise anybody if this story simply keeps on keeping on.
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