By Jason Menard
Why wait? The NFL’s got an image problem right now and his name is Michael Vick. In the statements coming out of yesterday’s grand jury indictment are even half true, then the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback’s bite is far worse than his bark – and it may be time for commissioner Roger Goodell to neuter him once and for all.
Oh, sure, there’s that whole innocent until proven guilty thing, but the fact of the matter is that at the very least, Vick owned and paid for the continued maintenance of a property where unspeakable acts against innocent animals took place.
Due process? Or how about Vick getting his due?
He, along with three other thugs, have been indicted on three counts: (1) travel in interstate commerce and use the mail or any facility in interstate commerce to promote, manage, etc. a business enterprise involving gambling; (2) knowingly sponsor an animal moved in interstate commerce in an animal fighting venture; (3) knowingly transport a dog for the purposes of having the dog participate in an animal fighting venture.
And while the charge does fall under U.S. racketeering laws, it also provides the NFL with an easy out to suspend Vick immediately. After all, the league’s own gambling policy prohibits associating with gamblers or with gambling activities in a manner tending to bring discredit to the NFL.
I don’t know whether to pity or vilify Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank. He seems like a good guy, concerned with the image of this club, and dedicated to putting forth the best product for his fans. So why does he get stuck with a punk like Vick?
Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Vick was caught in an airport with a false-bottom water bottle that allegedly smelled of some wacky tobaccey! Of course, a few days later Vick came out with the oh-so-plausible excuse that the false bottom was to hide his bling, not his bong. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.
Of course, it also wasn’t all that long ago that Vick was the face of the league’s future. From covers of the Madden video games to NFL commercials featuring the young quarterback, the NFL hitched its wagon to Vick and rode – if only they knew how he treaded the dogs on his sled.
This isn’t a time for partisanship. If you’re a Falcons’ fan you should be outraged. If you’re not, then do a search for the allegations against Vick and company. If abused dog carcasses and the term “rape stand” don’t make your blood boil, then you’ve got your priorities out of whack.
And I’m not some bleeding-heart dog lover either. In fact, my favourite breed is the ever-so-popular “Other people’s dog” breed. Yet this isn’t a question of animal rights, it’s about humanity.
Unfortunately, proponents of this disgusting display called dog fighting demean the word sport. There is no sport involved in this – only cruelty, selfishness, and sub-human violence.
If the NFL’s serious about cleaning up its image, it needs to act fast. And it needs to do so from the head office and not allow Blank to do the right thing first and suspend Vick. They need to send a clear message – preferably with Goodell and Blank standing side by side – saying that Vick will be suspended immediately in light of the grand jury indictment.
And that if he’s proven guilty of any of these charges, the only football he’ll be playing is as quarterback of the Mean Machine.
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