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 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. Metallica

    Jenny is more than likely 100 percent sure.

    September 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The_Dude

    I hope someone kills vick. Honestly if he were found stuffed into a plastic bag in some dumpster I wouldn't shed a tear. Besides the eagles suck anyways always have always will. And Philly has got to be one of the crappiest towns in America bar none. Philly and vick deserve each other...crap for crap.

    September 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      I hope you run into Vick in some bar (though I doubt he hangs out in the lowlife dives you do) and you spout your drunk mouth off and he busts you up. I'd pay $$$ to see that.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ShThFuUp

    Michael Vick has paid his debt to society for the crimes he was convicted of. Who are we to judge him as a good person? Michael Vick has been more than sincere with fulfilling the requirements of his parole! Those of you who continually criticize should remove the hatred from your hearts and ask for forgiveness!

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
    "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged"

    September 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      These people saying Vick should die, suffer, be drummed out of the NFL etc are the first to cry and whine and say they're being judged and unfairly when they f–k up (and EVERYONE does at some pt) and aren't forgiven right away. That makes them hypocrites as well as unforgiving.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      He never served time for animal cruelty, just for financing a dog fighting ring. So no, he has not paid his debt to society.

      September 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheppard

      and you preaching to folks you consider judgmental is being judgmental on your part – see how that works? Besides that, with your screen name it's a tad hypocritical to be quoting the Bible...

      September 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rav

    The "White" controlled media in Philly don' like Vick. Never did and never will. They support Kolb because he is White and he can do no wrong. The same "White" who supported George Bush and he ran the country into the ground as "Deficits didn't matter"! The same "White" media and court system who gives Paris Hilton slaps on the wrist for the same Cocaine arrest that a person of color or poverty is doing time for.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Metallica

      I am just spitballing here, but I am guessing you are black. Holy crap. Race again.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Metallica

    Abby– don't be a Vick a hater of the legal system and the jury of his peers. He did what was required by the law of the land. Period.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abby

      Oh, I'll be a Vick hater. To me, what Vick did was indicative of being a sociopath. Those who enjoy torturing animals could never be rehabilited by a few months in jail. He has not changed – he's only changed how he presents himself to the public.

      September 23, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jenny

    @ ShthefuUp classy quoting the bible with a weak name like that....scared to show who you really are? Cmon. Everyone judges in one way or another and not everyone will agree on grow up

    September 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ShThFuUp


      My name stands for Show The Funny Upside – maybe you should do the growing up eh?

      September 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • holtram

      Cute, like you don't know how 99% of people (basically everybody but you) is going to read that name. I don't think it's Jenny who needs the "maturing".

      September 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      I knew it meant "show the funny upside" right away. Perhaps you should get out more holtram. Maybe take a class or something.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • holtram

      Well dave I poked around some, looking at entries for shthfuup (as I'm not real slang-savvy) but I'll have to say the ones I saw said pretty much what I thought. I'll skip the classes. Probably you spend a lot of time on forums to know that "right away" huh? Maybe you should get out more.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Mr holtram, no, I was kidding and being sarcastic. Maybe you'd enjoy life more if you developed a sense of humor and didn't take yourself so seriously.
      GO EAGLES!!!!!!!

      September 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • holtram

      Oh I'm sorry, I thought we were having a serious if somewhat confrontational discussion. So you were kidding when you said I should take a class then too? Must be.

      Boycott Eagle football!

      September 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Holtram: Don't apologize for being too serious. If that's the way you want to be. Take a class if you think you should. Don't let others decide that for you.
      These are all just opinions here. Nothing here will change policy. I like to hear all the viewpoints. Getting bent out of shape over something some stranger typed on a chatboard is a waste of my time.
      GO EAGLES!!!!!

      September 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheppard

      @ShThFuUp – good try. No one believes that you don't use this name to gain attention because you knew exactly what it looked like. How long did it take you to come up with the excuse for being so lame? You need to grow up

      September 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. amp77

    So how many people spend time in jail for animal cruelty? Those of you who say that he only spent time in prison for you honestly think that most people who do the same thing serve prison time? Vick was made an example of, and he's back in football form. It seems a lot of you think that he should get a life sentence because he makes millions and you don't. If you want to blame someone or something, blame capitalism. That's why he gets paid what he does. If you can run and throw a football, you're going to be well paid. That's life.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jon

    First of all they were pit bulls. A vicious, dangerous, and unpredictable breed of dog that humans would be better off if they didn't exist. Neverheless, those animals were cruelly treated which is wrong, and Vick had to pay his debt to society for it. He has paid his debt so now it's time to move on and get a life. I'm glad he is playing and despite those who would rather see him on the street begging or something, he is prospering. Good for him. Contentions that everyone who supports moving forward are stupid or just supporting him because he's black shows what kind of morons are still harping on this.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      First of all, pit bulls are not even a breed, so right there you are displaying your ignorance on the subject. Secondly, he did time for financing a dog fighting ring, NOT animal cruelty.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • M_Phx

      American Pit Bull Terriers are not bred to be "vicious" they are "TAUGHT" to be vicious, as any other breed of dog is taught. That is the huge misconception about this dog and a lack of education. Environment for ANY breed of dog is imperative to the outcome of the dogs disposition. Environment is the key, even for "humans." If a child is raised in an abusive home, there is a chance that child will grow up to be an abuser. There is ALSO a chance that child will grow up and NOT tolerate that kind of abuse and become the voice for abused children! Get your facts straight about the breed.

      September 22, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bibbyboo boo joe jack jimmy

    At least the newspaper was able to defend itself. I'm a huge fan of NFL football. I understand that Michael Vick has paid his dues. But I will never respect him. I can forgive a lot of stuff. But harming innocent animals is one of the places where i draw the line.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Big Game James

    @Patricia517 There's that compassion and love again. And honestly I hope your over 50 because nobody under that says "pinhead" anymore.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. amp77

    NOBODY would be complaining if Vick were bagging groceries somewhere. But, in fact, he's skilled enough to play football, so that's the job he's gotten himself. You don't hate him for what he did, you hate him because he's famous and he's playing football again.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • holtram

      You know your first two sentences are very likely true. But you're wrong on the third – I do hate him for what he did.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meep

      No, I hate him for what he did and he showed no remorse for it. Never once did he care about what happened to all those dogs. Then what does this piece of trash do after he supposedly turned around his life? he shot at one of the guys who turned him in. Maybe if this loser was bagging groceries he would become a better human being. Instead he has a bunch of idiots cheering him on so he will never change.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • amp77

      Like I said, you hate him because he has millions and you don't.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • amp77

      What would be the difference if he were bagging groceries? He'd probably still be hanging out with the same people, but he'd be under the radar. Thus, the only difference is his fame, money, and success. Thus, that is the reason people won't let it go.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meep

      Not good a reading comprehension I take it.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • amp77

      "Not good a reading comprehension I take it."

      Now you're just making this too easy. It's a sad day when someone criticizes reading comprehension in broken English. LOL.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • holtram

      Point out any grocery bagger who has killed and maimed dogs and I promise you, I will hate his a$$ just as much as I do Vick's. We wouldn't have a forum like this about a grocery bagger now though would we? If we did I'd be making the same posts.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meep

      Yet you understood enough to respond.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    Come on people. The goal of any newspaper is to sell as many copies as possible. This was a very easy and uncreative way to accomplish that. I don't like Vick but the goal here is obvious.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. amp77

    I said it before, and I'll say it again. If your child looks up to Vick, then that's YOUR fault as a parent, not Michael Vick's.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    Sports has become an excuse to forgive any disgusting, illegal, and offensive behaviors. I refuse to accept that. I reject all professional sports as intolerable champions of bad behavior in their coaches, owners, and players.

    Time for humans to recognize how bad professional sports has become, and how bad it is for kids' role models.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. get over it

    I'm so tired of hearing about this. For all of you who can't let this go please respond this message by admitting to the most terrible act you have ever committed along with your name, address and place of employment. I ask this so that the rest of America can remind on a daily basis for the rest of your life how stupid you once were. And please, don't bother to tell us how vindicated you are and how you have turned your life around. Like you, we won't care and we will continue to make you relive the worst experience of you life.

    If you don't agree with what I just said and you don't want people to continue to bring up the skeletons in your closet then be quiet and let this man live his life.

    And another thing, if you are such an animal lover and an advocate for animal rights please tell me, how many hours of community service have you dedicated to animal rights? How many dogs have you adopted or been a foster pet owner to? How much money have you donated to animal rights advocacy groups? None, I thought so.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • amp77

      Best post of the day. Right on!

      September 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMM

      That was rich – well said!

      September 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      For that matter, if they are such animal lovers let them please tell us how many of them have given up eating pork (pigs are very intelligent creatures, smarter than dogs even), beef or even chicken. I mean thos animals have a right to live a ful and happy life, they also have a right to not get their throats sliced, get skinned, disembowled, chopped up and eaten by us humans. I mean I wonde how many of these dog lovers are right now looking at this blog while chomping on their pork chops, hamburgers or chicken wings. I bet a bunch.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      No one would be saying a thing if Vick was homeless or washing dishes. It's that he's successful. That's jealousy. For some, toss in that he's black and successful. That's racism.
      There are atrocities being commited against children right now all over the country, and these self righteous people have to condemn a man WHO SERVED HIS CONVICTION! I think some moral compasses are SERIOUSLY busted around here!

      September 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meep

      Maybe if some of you lived better lives and had morals you wouldn't have so many problems. Sorry no skeletons to be ashamed of, have never even received a speeding ticket before. I walk dogs at the local animal shelter, have adopted about 10 pets from the shelters in the past 15 years and I donate $600 a year to my local shelter and $200 to the Humane society. Does that cover it?

      September 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • @ Meep

      If you're bragging about what you have done for animals then you're not exactly the most altruistic human being on the planet (especially if you write that $600 off on your taxes). Sorry to burst your bubble.

      If you really want to do manking of favor, tell you and your fellow pet owner friends to stop supporting pet ownership because they're carbon footprint is about as big as ours.

      I don't advocate for against anything. I'm a realist and I know for every right thing you think your doing for mankind and society you're also having an equal and opposite effect.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I would be happy to report the most terrible act I have committed, because never in my entire life have I tortured, abused, or otherwise caused such physical pain on another living creature, never mind doing it without conscience as Vick did. I volunteer time, money, and other resources to my local shelter, and will continue doing so.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • @ Chris

      I think your crime against humanity is being so self-righteous. I think you and Meep would have a good time riding around on your high horses, so long as those horses are treated ethically

      September 22, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meep

      I answered the questions for the op. If people aren't going to like the answers, why ask the questions? BTW I give money to many organizations-mostly for humans and not for the write offs it's because I care. I bet I give more time and money than these so called "human lovers" on this thread.

      September 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • To @Chris

      So answering Get Over It's questions is being self-righteous? If you don't like the answer, don't ask the question.

      September 22, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • M_Phx

      Hey Mr. "Get Over IT" you can't accept the fact that there are many individuals out there that help many different organizations for animals. It irks you to no end that there are many people who DO NOT torture, electrocute, and kill innocent animals for sick entertainment.
      I am SICK and TIRED of people throwing in the whole mix of things "HE IS BLACK" ~ YOU my friend ~ "GET OVER THE BLACKNESS!" I for one am SO SICK AND TIRED of THAT whiny little comment! It is NOT because he is BLACK, it is NOT because he makes a butt load of money, it is WHAT he did! He didn't "just" finance dog fighting, end of story. He had a huge part in the torturing and killing of those dogs. Now, lets put all of that aside, lets give the man a second chance indeed. Now this is where the problem comes in, it is small minded people as yourself, that feel this is not an issue, but what about our youth? What kind of message does this give the youth of today? This is why our society is going to hell in a hand basket. People just throw morality out the window and don't care. Teach MORALS, teach the youth to "respect" not just others, but themselves. Learn it LIVE IT!

      September 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • itsoveranddonewith

      I like how all of the naysayers against Vick have avoided this post. Which means it holds true and is self evident. Well done!

      September 22, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • M_Phx

      I personally have not broken the law in my 50+ years of life, I have not served any time for anything~ Happy MR. Overanddonewith?

      September 23, 2010 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      I volunteer at a local animal shelter in Jersey. I foster all breeds of dogs that that are rescued. I donate when I can. Even donated to local orginazation, rather then give out wedding favors for my wedding. I'm by no means a member of PETA. But do Have a soft spot for all walks of life,I don't like to here of ANY animal or human being tortured or abused. But when i do, I feel strongly about an eye for eye. I'm not just against animal abuse. I highly recommend u read. The lost dog by Jim Gorant. Just give the book a try and then let me know how you feel.

      September 23, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
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