Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and an opponent of drowning and electrocuting dogs, so I have two reasons to be skeptical of Michael Vick, especially after he shredded the ’Boys’ secondary Sunday.
So when I read this morning that the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback (seen above leaving a Virginia courthouse after his 2008 guilty plea) would one day like to own a dog again – well, I was more than a little gobsmacked.
Surely, I thought, he was making a passing quip. Of all the hell that rained down on him after his conviction – the prison sentence, the NFL suspension, the checkbook full of fines and retribution – the lifetime ban on owning a canine was the only provision that seemed a strong enough rebuke for his crimes.
Alas, it was no quip. Not only was Vick serious when he made the remark to thegrio.com, but he went into detail on how owning a dog could help him in his rehabilitation.
“I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process. I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care, and my love, and my passion for animals,” he said.
Um, what? Love? Passion? Really?
I am all for redemption stories. I am doubly for second chances. I am as impressed as anyone with how the reportedly lackadaisical run-first Atlanta Falcons quarterback transformed into a potent and well-rounded gunslinger for the City of Brotherly Love.
I also admire that he is voluntarily speaking to children on behalf of the Humane Society to warn kids that dogfighting isn’t cool.
But I’m not buying love and passion.
When asked by a child in the audience at a Newark, New Jersey, school why he took part in such an abominable pastime, he said he didn’t know, according to NBC New York.
But when thegrio.com asked him how a purported animal lover could commit the crimes of which he was convicted, he blamed his upbringing and said no one ever told him it was wrong.
“I hate to use our culture as an excuse,” he began before doing exactly that, “but it is what it is, and that’s what happened, and that’s the way I thought about it growing up. ... I love animals. I love dogs. I love birds. I love all types of animals, but this was just the way we was brought up.”
Are we to believe that as he blossomed into one of the most dazzling quarterbacks to ever chuck a pigskin, no friends, no family members, no neighbors, no teachers, no one at Homer L. Ferguson or Warwick high schools, no one at Virginia Tech or in the Atlanta Falcons clubhouse ever told him that training dogs to fight to the death – and slaying them if they faltered – was a no-no?
“That’s the hardest thing: telling them that we can’t have one because of my actions,” he said.
With all due respect to the puppy-cuddling aspirations of young London and Jada, how about a nice guinea pig?