September 22nd, 2010
12:47 PM ET

Newspaper tackles Vick story with 'Top Dog' headline

The Philadelphia Daily News went with a tongue-in-cheek headline Wednesday.

Michael Vick is sure to be the subject of controversy again, but this time it's not the fleet-footed Eagles quarterback's fault.

On the front cover of Wednesday's Philadelphia Daily News, Vick is featured - rolling out of the pocket, pigskin in hand - alongside the caption, "Top Dog." The story details a "shocking turnabout" in which Eagles coach Andy Reid named Vick the team's starting quarterback.

In case you've been in a sports vacuum on one of Neptune's moons for the last two years, Vick returned to the gridiron last season after serving an NFL suspension and prison time for a felony dogfighting conviction.

The Eagles' decision to sign Vick to a modest contract was met with mixed reaction from animal-rights activists, and this week's announcement was no different. The founder of the animal-welfare organization DogPAC told The Philadelphia Inquirer the move was "disappointing," However, Wayne Pacell, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said Vick was committed to his group's anti-dogfighting initiative and that Vick told him he'd be available Tuesdays to talk to at-risk youth about dogfighting.

A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals news release said only, "As long as he's throwing a football and not electrocuting a dog, PETA is pleased he is focused on his game."

Josh Barnett, the paper's executive sports editor, said the Daily News had received "a few calls and some e-mails" about the headline, "almost all being from people who are animal lovers."

"The general consensus is they feel like the issue's been covered and he's paid his debt to society with prison time, and the story should be more focused on football," he said.

Barnett defended the paper's coverage of the issue, saying it was balanced and that several sources addressed Vick's remarkable comeback and how the 30-year-old had made the most of his second chance.

As for the headline, Barnett said it is "reflective of our personality." He said there was no intention to offend anyone, only to "write the best, most reflective headline out there."

"It really is not a stark departure from what we do and what we've always done," Barnett said.

August 2009 cover after Vick's signing.

This, after all, is a newspaper that warned "Hide Your Dogs" on its front page when the Eagles signed Vick. When the Eagles banned outside food in their new stadium the paper decried "Hoagies of Mass Destruction." It has also skewered non-sports figures: When in 2000 then-Mayor John Street announced his support for Police Chief John Timoney following a nationally televised police beating, the Daily News depicted the pair as Jackie Gleason and Art Carney under the headline, "The Honeymooners."

Several blogs promised Wednesday's Vick cover would yield controversy. But Philadelphia is a rabid sports town, a place where Santa Claus was once pelted with snowballs, where fans cheered after Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending neck injury, where hometown hoopster Kobe Bryant was booed during the just-for-show NBA All-Star Game. Here, the controversy seemed to lie in Reid's decision more than the newspaper's front page.

Reid has repeatedly said - as recently as Monday - that Kevin Kolb would remain the Eagles' starting quarterback and there was "no indication there was any wiggle room in that," said Barnett, explaining why the story carries such weight in the City of Brotherly Love. The Vick announcement, essentially, "is uncharacteristic of Andy Reid," he said.

While most of those commenting on the newspaper's website attacked Reid's credibility and a handful defended "Con-Vick," there were a few commenters who took issue with the paper's headline, describing it as tasteless and tacky.

Asked one: "does anyone know where the editor of the [Daily News], Andy Reid, and Vick the "dog Killer" live? We can get a pumpkin tosser and toss bags of meadow muffins at their houses!"

"Top Dog?" asked another. "You have reached a new low. How about animals protect their young, he's nothing more than a savage, you insult dogs everywhere."

Some took a lighter approach, though, and went along with the gag. A blog post on SB Nation added a few puns of its own, including jokes about how Vick treats "underdogs" and about an upcoming game turning into a "dogfight."

"Sure, a wide swath of America can't talk about Vick without making a dog joke," Andrew Sharp blogged. "But guess what? Two years after one of the more startling falls from grace we've seen in pro sports, we're all talking about Vick again. All jokes aside, that's pretty amazing."

Daily News Assistant Managing Editor Michelle Bjork said "Top Dog" was a "true Daily News headline." Bjork said the newspaper had many talented headline writers and she was not surprised by Wednesday's front page.

Asked if the newspaper - whose parent company filed for bankruptcy last year - was attempting to draw attention ahead of the Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and philly.com being placed on the auction block Thursday, Bjork said the headline was purely an editorial decision.

"This is the sort of thing we would cover anyway because we're such a big sports town," she said.

Indeed, the back cover for Wednesday's paper bore the headline "Roy Wonder!," lauding Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay's 20th win Tuesday night. He is the first Philly pitcher to achieve 20 wins since Steve Carlton in 1982.

Asked which he thought was a bigger story, Barnett said "sports is so much a part of Philadelphia" that both stories were enormous because Vick and Halladay are "major entities on the sports landscape." Vick edged out Halladay out because the announcement was such a surprise and because Vick has a history of being big news - and not just in Philly.

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Filed under: Dogs • Football • Pennsylvania • Sports
soundoff (311 Responses)
  1. Catie

    You have got to be friggen kidding me with this headline! I hope PETA lines all of their bird cages with the Philli daily news!

    September 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      PETA doesn't really care about pitbulls. They wanted all of Vick's dogs to be put down.....

      September 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • M_Phx

      INDEED~ PETA is a waste of space! They claim they are for the rights of "ALL" Animals, but they were the first with the ASPCA to go on the euthanize all of the VICK dogs band wagon! I emailed PETA's representative actually a VP ~ he claimed the money could be used for all the Animals in the ASPCA that don't need rehabilitation! So PETA can just kiss it!

      September 23, 2010 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. john d

    Go Micheal Vick ! Congradulations...

    September 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Catie

      'Congratulations' Doesn't your mom have a dictionary in that basement

      September 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carlton

    Anything to deface or disrespect a black man America. But in this case redemption is sure smelling sweet...

    September 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      yes, this is all because he is black. it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the dog fighting thing or anything. just his skin color. please, unplug your modem and do the rest of the world a favor.

      September 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • cosmo

      Come on CARLTON. This isn't about race – never has been. It's about a man who was so full of himself and thought he could walk on water....that is, until he got caught. He's no better than the garbage you put out each week....

      September 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    I fully agree with you, 1gliblib!!!! And yeah how did the idiot Obama get in this article? Only in this country can you torture a living creature, show NO remorse on national tv, get special treatment in prison and come out making multi-million dollars. But if a regular joe or bro did that, none of them would even get a second chance in their first profession. I agree, he doesn't even know how to do construction right but to say he is Great football player is all out trash, seriously, the guy can't remember a playbook and would rather be a running back than a leader QB. (FYI I am a lame Eagles fan, team sucks! tru-rebuilding year, fire the coach and front office who allowed for this serious political b.s. instead of focusing on ever bringing a ring to Philly (McNabb we miss you already! – Give KOLB a chance you hypocrite coach). Let him be you say? Sure if he was still doing roofing and out of the spot light, I would have forgotten about the social path dog torture (torturing animals are the first step to human murdering, just read your criminal profiles)

    September 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Catie

      Well said Michael. But, then again this is the country that has killed 53 million and counting babies since the early 70's and called it a womans choice. ( well providing they werent talking about the woman who may have been from that womb)

      September 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mind

    paid his dues....he's ok with me.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      He only paid his dues for financing a dog fighting ring, not for animal cruelty

      September 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Meep

    I hope the "top dog" leaves the field in a body bag or a wheelchair. He's just trash, too bad his buddy who got shot at it didn't have enough guts to turn him in.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dex

      His "buddy" ratted him out for a better deal. If he was dumb enough to be at the party, he deserved to get shot. He's lucky he's still living.

      September 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • steeleball

      you are sick...people like you give life a bad name. I hope GOD forgives you.

      September 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Heem

    Whats screwed up that most of you forget that human beings outrank dogs on any given day. get over it, he made a mistake and its done. And pitbulls are terrible dogs anyways. They are the worst.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Heem:
      Pitbulls are one of the best breeds – they want to serve and please their own. It is the humans that trained this dog to be evil and gave them the bad rap. A pitbull would protect you in any situation, giving its life for their owner.

      September 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      sounds like someone's been watchin' a bit much Pit Boss (great show, btw)

      September 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • cosmo

      HEEM – your post shows your ignorance about pit bulls.

      September 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Anti-Hoff

      and you sir/madam are an undereducated individual on this topic. They are not horrible dogs. They are usually quite friendly and family oriented. When they are trained to use the tools they have, they have the potential to be a devastating weapon, but usually that only happens when dopey kids torment them or idiots like your football hero use them to alleviate his boredom.

      September 23, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Heem

    I don't see you fools crying over the millions of babies killed each year. Nothing worst then psycho dog lovers, they are animals.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cathy

      I cry over babies too!! Why can't I cry over both????? How very sad!!!

      September 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meep

      Yeah a human lover who calls other people psycho and animals. Makes sense if you're an idiot. Just another piece of garbage defending another one.

      September 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • cosmo

      Come on HEEM – people have feelings about a lot of different topics....this topic – if you can remember – is what we're all talking about here. Don't make it about something else and you have ABSOLUTELY no frickin' idea how any of us feel about other topics!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Anti-Hoff

      Retard-o-Gram for Heem – When the thread is about killing babies, then we'll talk about it – stop – go to school – stop – stfu – stop
      That is all
      To anyone who isnt being stupid about this topic – good morning and have a nice day

      September 23, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Cathy

    The only people who would appreciate this headline are people who have no love for animals. Shame on the people making money off this headline!! If Vick was really sorry he would stand up and apologize for this headline, even if he had nothing to do with it. He has an opportunity to set a standard here. But I doubt he will do anything. It makes me sick.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dex

      You really expect Vick to apologize for something he had nothing to do with. Is he also supposed to apologize for the Holocaust? for Slavery? for Hurricane Katrina??? He had nothing to do with either of those, but he has the opportunity to "set the standard".

      September 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Antwonnn

      Yaeh, appologizing for some crap he didn't have anything to do with. That makes sense..

      September 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      WRONG! I found the headline funny and i don't fit into your pyschotic image of what kind of person i am. insert coin, try again. loon.

      September 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mooyou

    You who think that Michael Vick served time for what he did, are so blind! He is a dog killer no matter how you look at it. If you kill dogs, you will kill anything!! The man should've served time as a murderer would have. I would've given him a life sentence or the death penalty. I love my dogs! I have 5 and they would never be treated like he has treated his dogs. He is a rotten person. I hate the Eagles for that purpose. Anyone that allows him on their team should be ashamed!!!

    September 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Mooyou, I am just a disappointed and disgrulted Eagles fan – never wanted Vick, we never needed him on our team. McNabb wasn't a closure but WAY much better player and person than Vick. Was very ashamed in our Front Office and Coach to back this type of decision, wasn't needed.

      September 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • kahmyah

      You mean to tell me, that you will give this man a life sentence or the worst sentence you can find becasue of what he did to an animal. Don't get me wrong..and let me make this perfectly clear! What he did was indeeed wrong and cruel. But as it was mentioned here, he paid his debt to society, went from being on top to losing it all, to rehabbing himself and working himself back into being a productive person in society. Thats more than I can say for some people who get a pass and don't own up to their discretions (ie Loahna nd Hilton most recntly come to mind, but thats another subject for another day. Second Chances. He got his and has made the most of it in a positive way. And while we are at it, he served mroe time than what most rapist or people who kill innocent children (born or unborn ) and yet your still crying or having a fit over the fact of what he did in the past. CHILD PLEASE!!! GET OVER IT!!! MY goodness. ITS A DOG! Not a human being, not something that pays taxes or goes to work and provides for his family or what have you. Its an animal! Now I am not trying to demean their worth..Let me make that clear. But when an animal has more rights than a human being..when a human serves more jail time for a something wrong (again not demeaning the act of cruelty) for an offense against a animal or in this case a dog, then there is something very wrong here with you people. My goodness gracious..what next, Bark Sparky one or two times if someone doesn't feed you on time or take you for yor walk . What you get a life sentence for that. Get a life people and brain at the same time..

      September 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      @kahmyah ~ oddly enough, many people value animal life over human life. personally, i think they are disturbed and were obviously lacking something as a child to devalue human life so much.

      September 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Antwonnn

      your house probably smells horrible. Get a spouse instead of the wolfpack

      September 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • cosmo

      Hey KAYMYAH: You might have exaggerated just a little with your post....I don't think anyone on here is discussing the value of human life vs. animal life...so stay on topic and don't just to an assumption. You have your opinion, others have theirs. RESPECT can go a long way.....

      September 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • amp77

      Yes, death for every offense. Animal cruelty? DEATH. Stealing? DEATH. Speeding? DEATH. No one should ever be forgiven for anything. If you've ever lied to your mother, you should be stoned to DEATH.

      September 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. duke

    How is Vick hated and ronald reagan loved?
    Vick harmed animals,
    Ron attempted ethnic cleansing right here in america(the crack trade,through iran contra).
    People,People are suffering in this country because ADD is real and the powers that be are using it(ADD)against USA ll

    September 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    How soon the world forgets the character of a man once he demonstrates his ability to play a game. He is still an animal abuser in my mind. Not the type of person I would ever have over for dinner.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kealee

    It's poor taste, but whatever. Everyone will forget all about his sins of his past once he starts winning. Winning is everything in this country. Ethics, now that's a thing of the past.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Kealee only those that think this is actually a racial issue and continue to press it as one – and those that think criminal profiles that our judicial system uses are bogus in figuring out a social path's reasonings would move on (they must thing someone like that can come back and make millions of dollars, but your average person with mortgage debt shouldn't get help in any way, are okay with that). – this Country folks it falling very fast into the "crapper" and the mindset above is WHY we are the laughing stock of the World and other nations.

      September 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • doofus

      Kealee said ethics, NOT ethnics /faceplam

      September 22, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. andy

    Another lazy reporter....can't you come up with something original? The Philly Santa Claus story is old, tired, and quite boring.

    September 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. All4Vick

    Seriously people....let it go. He's done his time let's all move on. This man is super talented on the gridiron. Poor taste in words by the newspaper but then again...it could be doing what it wanted to do...stir up controversy. Vick had nothing to do with this. Leave the man alone. Geesh!

    September 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
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