I Love my Dog, but…
As I see more and more media attention being given to the Michael Vick case, I can’t help but wonder how it is that these prominent professional athletes keep getting into trouble. Names like Michael Vick, Pac Man Jones, Chris Henry, etc, etc. pop up in the news more than the Pope’s. Yet, I can’t help but reserve my judgment on their guiltiness until the facts are in and they have been convicted of a crime. Too frequently have I seen athletes have their whole career and lives put on “hold” due to the impatient actions and quick decision making by the powers that be, which rather than stand by a player that they have committed millions to, dump them to the side instead of taking a little media scrutiny or protest. These are the very same players who lay their health and general well-being on the line each week for the mere sake of our enjoyment. I know that these players are very well compensated to complete such feats, but I must say, I can’t understand why groups like PETA, Rev. Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons, and Jesse Jackson are using an indictment as a springboard for their causes. I’m not condoning what Michael Vick is accused of, but I’m not going to throw the book at a guy who hasn’t had his day in Court yet either.
Moreover, just because I’m a little skeptical that he’s actually guilty of these crimes does not mean that I’m a supporter of cruelty against animals. It just means that the 18-page indictment, which is circulating on the web doesn’t give an indication into why a man who signed a $130 million dollar deal would be so “hands on” in an operation that would clearly destroy his marketability and put him at a high risk for jail time. Not only would that be nonsensical, it is just plain dumb! So if he is “guilty” of the things, which are alleged, be my guest and put the guy in jail for 6 years and fine him $350 k as the guidelines provide. But if the prosecutors are using his indictment as a way for him to turn on his three friends and others who he may have knowledge about being involved in such actions, then I condemn their actions! Michael Vick was a marketing firms dream just 2 years ago. He was a man coming into the prime of his career, he possessed talents unmatched by Zeus himself, and he had street cred as well as crossover capability to appeal to larger market. Yet, in a sweep Michael Vick is damaged goods with no one standing behind him. If this scenario sounds familiar, you need to look no farther than 2003, when it was alleged that Kobe Bryant raped an employee at a local hotel he was staying at while receiving rehab in Denver, Colorado. Kobe, like Vick, was the prince of marketing holding deals with the likes of McDonalds, Addidas, and Sprite yet when it was “alleged” that he sexually assaulted a woman, he was left standing alone. Even though the charges were later dropped and Kobe has gained a number of sponsors since, most notably a new sneaker deal with Nike on the strength of his 81 point game, he has not reached that same level of “Superstardom” that he once achieved.
My biggest concern about both of those cases is how shockingly easy it is to bring down, what I perceived to be titans in their respective sports. In the Court of public opinion Kobe was a rapist and Vick is a despicable tyrant dog owner, profiting off the cruel deaths of America’s most beloved animals. And the sad truth is, whatever happens, no matter how the case comes out, Vick and Kobe have lost millions as a result of what may be a fabrication or a strategic move by desperate prosecutors trying to gain fame by nabbing a big name in a small town. (Note: Kobe’s case was in Eagle County and Vick is in Richmond) However, this has a tendency to backfire, evident by the Duke charade, where the prosecutor recently admitted that he did not have credible evidence to substantiate the charges. What are your thoughts? Please feel free to weigh in.