Babies, diapers, and Bebe Pods are taking a back seat today to football. And yes, college football is only a couple weeks away, so ladies, you'll have to bear with me until January because in the words of one of the players I coach, "I loves me some college football!"
Yesterday, Michael Vick signed a 1 year/$1.6 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, with an option for a second year. He's going to be the back-up quarterback for the Eagles behind Donovan McNabb.
For the uneducated on this story, here's a quick refresher: Vick was indicted in July of 2007, then pled guilty in August of that same year, on charges stemming from a dog-fighting operation that was being run in part from a house Vick owned in Virginia. In January of 2008, he went to prison, got released in May of that year, but was put on house arrest. In May of this year, he was released from custody. Last month, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, conditionally re-instated Vick, clearing the way for some team to sign him. And of course, yesterday the Eagles did just that.
Now, the Philadelphia Daily News had as it's headline this morning, "What Are They Thinking?". Multiple sports commentators and columnists have opined that any team in the NFL would be subjecting themselves to a massive public relations onslaught if they signed him. In fact, whole 30-minute shows on news channels have been devoted to the question of whether Michael Vick was worth having in the league.
Go back to the previous summary paragraph and notice two words. Here, I'll highlight them in italics and bold: "on charges stemming from a dog-fighting operation". You can go back and read the indictments, the transcripts of interviews, everything, but not once does anyone in law enforcement make the case that Michael Vick was actively participating in the dog fighting. It says that his money was used to fund it, he owned some of the dogs, and one of his houses was used. But nowhere does it say he did the dog fighting.
Athletes and celebrities these days have what are called in some circles "posses", in other circles "hangers-on", and in pop culture thanks to HBO, "entourages." These are friends of the athlete or celebrity that basically live off their friend's wealth and fame. They are paid by the friend as an "advisor," or some other such word, but basically they just leech off their friend. The rich friend gives them money, and provides them with a place to live as a show of friendship... to show that they remember their roots. But what happens after that money changes hands, well, let's just look at that.
Suppose your best friend comes up to and says "Hey, can I borrow a couple hundred dollars?" Now, in today's economy that's a sizable loan, but he's your best buddy. You've know each other since childhood. So of course, if you can afford it, you loan him the money, right? Say that same friend then uses that money to buy a gun, then shoots his girlfriend. Are you guilty of murder too? No, of course not. But what if you knew he was going to buy a gun, and knew he was going to shoot his girlfriend, would you be guilty of a crime then? Yes, if you didn't report it to the police. You'd be an accessory to the crime. But what if you just knew he was going to buy a gun with it, and not that he was going to kill his girlfriend?
What if you were rich and famous and your friend wasn't? Ah, now we've got a little bit of a different situation, don't we? Because no newspaper in the world (save your hometown paper) is going to care if your Joe Schmoe friend offs his girl. But if you, Mr. Rich and Famous Celeb were involved, then it's a story!!! Especially if it can be proven that you helped your friend by giving him the money to do it! Now, the media really has a whopper of a story!
Of course, in our example, a person was killed. A human being. Michael Vick, to my knowledge, has never killed a person. He's never done anything to a human being. There are players in the NFL today who have been convicted of manslaughter. For those of you who don't know, a person has to have died for manslaughter to have occurred. Donte Stallworth plays for my team, the Cleveland Browns. He pled guilty this year to manslaughter because he was driving drunk and killed a man with his car. He was suspended from the league for a year. Next year, when his suspension is lifted (which it will be) some team will sign him as a 5th wide receiver and barely a fuss will be kicked up.
Stallworth isn't the first. Ray Lewis was indicted with murder and assault charges. He's still playing with the Baltimore Ravens, is widely considered one of the best linebackers in the league, and no one has said a word about whether the Ravens should have let him back on their team. Hell, every team in the NFL would kill... okay, not the best word... would really love to have him on their roster.
Lewis isn't a pariah; he's loved. Again, I'll put this in bold and italics: He is responsible for killing a person.
Michael Vick is dangerous to the league's reputation. His "friends" used their leeched money to run a dog fighting operation at one of his houses.
The only logical conclusion you can make is that the National Football League and the media feel like a dog's life is more important than a person. Vick gave his friends money and some dogs were killed. Ray Lewis went out with some friends and Jacinth Baker and Richard Loller were murdered. Jacinth and Richard aren't dogs, so that must mean that their lives don't count as much.