Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Vick Saga: Beating a Dead...

- Sigh. On the plus side, Vick is correctly depicted as being left-handed. -

Current Standing: 1-0, 6th Overall

It's not enough I have to deal with the cracked ribs of Donovan McNabb, missing a chance to put up pinball-like numbers against a woeful Saints defense. Oh no. Not enough that the Eagles have to screw over fantasy owners yet again, adding the McNabb injury to the DeSean Jackson brain fart from last season and the Brian Westbrook "kneel-at-the-one"* from the year before.

Really, the gooey hot fudge on the trainwreck sundae that the Eagles' season could become for fantasy owners is Michael Vick. Actual Eagle fans are having problems enjoying the year too, what with the angry mobs congregating in and around the Linc and interfering with the usual angry mobs that just want to throw batteries at David Akers in peace. And now everyone's favorite tubby empty-headed crank, Andy Reid Phil McGraw, Ph.D., is getting in on the act, discussing Vick at length on his show yesterday.

Were Dr. Phil involved in a game of football, he would be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct; namely, "piling on" Vick (pause). Since Vick understandably refused to discuss his mental state with a man of McGraw's professional caliber, any wild diagnoses McGraw cared to make were based on his panel of tangentially-related experts and a 20-second vanilla phone call with Eagles' head coach Andy Reid, who swore Vick was sincere about making a change. And starting with the man in the mirror.

But that wasn't enough for Dr. Phil's legion of brainless retirees fans, as evidenced by his show's message board. "When the Steelers come to Dallas, I will be standing there protesting with a big old sign on my pettite little body even if it cost me my own arrest," wrote one poster. "It will be worth it."

(Nobody tell Cyndy that Vick plays for the Eagles, all right? Cool.)

Okay, okay, I'll stop picking on grandmothers and get to the point. Look, Rob and I have both weighed in on this already, and I'm sick of talking about Vick, so I'm only going to say this one more time. Michael Vick has paid his debt to society. He has. He served 20 months in a "pound-me-in-the-ass federal prison" and has years of parole ahead of him. He owes creditors some comical amount of money, in the tens of millions of dollars. Eight figures. He won't going to make that back playing football; he won't make that back playing football and working three jobs in the offseason. Does anyone honestly think Vick's life is going to be sunshine and roses from here out, that he's home free now? No way. His life has, for all intents and purposes, been ruined.

And what did he do exactly? Yes, animal cruelty for pleasure and profit, I know. And don't get me wrong: it was deplorable. I love dogs. I've owned a couple. If you crunch the numbers, the average dog will come out with a huge VORP (value over replacement pet). But Donte Stallworth just ended the life of another human being and got less than one month in prison for that. Ray Lewis was charged with murder before every key witness changed their testimony, and was named Super Bowl MVP twelve months later. Even Marvin Harrison, perpetually glorified as the anti-T.O., is in a boatload of legal trouble for allegedly shooting at other human beings. I'm just curious why two years out of football isn't enough for Vick when there are plenty of athletes across the board guilty of worse crimes and still playing.

"But Vick's back in the NFL!" you say. "No other convicted felon has this easy a time finding employment after their release." That's a fair point and, honestly, far more interesting than the puppy-killing ones. My argument is this: Michael Vick possesses a very specific skill set and is exceptional at what he does. He is one of the best people in the world at throwing a prolate spheroid long distances. Therefore, teams interested in winning football games will pick up any good football players they have the opportunity to add, personal issues be damned.

Or how about this point: Vick's real crime -- the one he did 19 months for -- was related to gambling. Now that he has the means (connections from his dogfighting days), the opportunity (a job with a professional football team), and the motive (the aforementioned bankruptcy), that gremlin of point-shaving has to have been planted by now. I don't believe he'd be stupid enough to try it, and I'm not even sure I believe he'll be in games enough to affect the outcome (in football, you usually need more than one party involved). Still, the mere thought of this type of scandal has to keep Roger Goodell up nights.

But you have to think Vick's getting a little wiser in his old age than all that anyway. After all, he avoided Dr. Phil like the plague.
* - Honestly, I can't fault him for this; it was in fact the correct thing to do. But man, does that kill you as an owner.

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