We apologize profusely for the near 30 hour wait for the follow up to yesterday's lesson.
After we had put the finishing touches on our presentation, the NAACP came out with a most wonderful commentary in support of Michael Vick.
Most interesting to us, was the timing. We had previously submitted our guide for understanding the situation in our online classroom here. And, we were most honored that the NAACP seemed to echo our sentiment.
With that in mind, we felt compelled to restructure our closing discussion on this situation. We are never too proud to admit when we haven't thoroughly and righteously completed a presentation. The need to make a few changes and additions to our compelling and informative closing was unmistakable.
At this point, most of you have probably come to realize that the entire situation has, admittedly, been handled poorly. From local law enforcement to federal judges. From NFL spectator to NFL commissioner. All have dropped the ball. All have put their needs first.
And, all missed the signs.
The league missed a golden opportunity to step in and correct things.
Owner Arthur Blank allowed his investment in Vick to cloud his judgment. He saw Vick as a stock holding, not a person.
Law enforcement and prosecutors allowed the chance to catch the great white whale (so to speak) cloud the normal protocol for dealing with such cases.
As fans, we allowed our fascination with Vick's ability to propagate our fascination in watching his splaying at the hands of the media.
With the blood of the career of Michael Vick on our hands, we must cleanse ourselves. One and all.
The NFL stood by as Michael Vick asked for help. Knowing he was in a situation that might compromise his future, Vick took the initiative to try to get help. He'd been told that the new commissioner was no nonsense. That the behavior expectations were concrete. With that in mind, and knowing that simply asking for help could jeopardize his safety, Vick tried to institute himself into the NFL's naughty boy club and receive the rehabilitative treatment and counselling it would provide. He brazenly boarded a plane with a contraband bottle. But, what happened next showed that his owner and league were only thinking of the investment in the $130M player.
Instead of the league holding Vick accountable. Instead of pursing a legitimate investigation into the contents of the bottle, the league and law enforcement allowed Vick off the hook. Vick remained virtually silent throughout. Never really denying anything. Months later, in a probable effort to turn attention back to the incident, he mentioned something about the bottle holding jewelry.
His outlandish act and later outlandish attempt to get back into the commissioner's line of sight and get in the program were just ignored.
Vick had little contact with Mr. Blank. One would think such anti-social behavior would illicit some sort of concern. But, rather than risk the chance of losing Vick to any sort of suspension, ownership ignored his silent scream for help.
And finally the first allegations of treating dogs at a somewhat lower than acceptable level surfaced. Goodell met with Vick to ask him about things. Now, the NFL has a substantial security arm. Made up of ex-law enforcement officials. Certainly, the hint of scandal would have had them scrambling to investigate. There is no reason to believe the league would allow themselves to be caught by surprise on this. And later, Goodell even volunteered their services to the federal government to help investigate!
So, it seems most reasonable to believe that when Vick met with Goodell, the situation was not a mystery.
To maintain his safety, Vick denied knowledge and involvement. A scared man in a dangerous way certainly would act irrationally and fear for his safety would force him to bite his lips. And at the same time, hope upon hope that the commissioner would act on the information his security forces had undoubtedly assembled.
But again, rather than put his arm around the terrified young man's shoulders. Rather than tell him, "look, we know the deal. Let us help." Mr. Goodell chose to make record of the denial of involvement to be used later against Vick. Violation of the conduct code, you know.
Rather than hold a news conference and stand tall and tell the world the NFL was going to stand by its largest investment and get him the help he needed to overcome his fear of dogs. To learn not to act on his fear of them and to treat them a bit more kindly. Rather than arming Vick with the confidence to stand up to the individuals who may or may not have strong armed him into conspiring to finance their operation, Mr. Goodell chose to cover his six. And he let Vick walk out the door.
Vick's career bleeding a slow death.
The local investigation turned up items and conjecture which could molded into a case. The federal fat cats, who normally don't get involved in dog fighting operations that are essentially small stakes (the last federal investigation of this sort was in March and involved 100's of individuals), saw the chance to get the headlines and pad their resumes.
And the federal prosecutors aligned themselves to develop an insurance policy. A back up indictment involving gambling, money laundering and tax evasion. Just in case the dog fighting itself didn't stick.
Gambling, money laundering and tax evasion? Not unlike Rick Tocchet's docket.
Well, except that Tocchet's involved a huge North American enterprise and the greatest hockey player of all time.
And he got 2 years..................PROBATION!
And we as fans. We lapped up the media bloodletting. Bathing in the ill tides rolling Mr. Vick's way. Taking an odd delight in the absurdity of the charges. The malformation of the investigation. And now, the humbling of the plea.
In an odd way, we deserve to lose Vick. Our role in this is certainly culpable. And the punishment to the fans seems just.
We can't deny that he owns some responsibility here. He made poor choices. And bad decisions.
Instead of relying on the league to enforce their very own codes of conduct, he should have sooner gone to the authorities to let them know that he may have been strong armed into a possibly questionable activity.
Instead of anticipating that law enforcement would use normal measures and treat him as if he were a typical first time offender, he should have braced for storm and armed himself for the worst.
Instead of trusting the media to portray a fair and accurate picture of the situation, he should have known that "news media" and "tabloid" are now synonyms.
So, yes. Michael Vick is accountable.
And yes, Michael Vick will accept that responsibility on Monday.
After he trades his iced out watches for dull shackles, then what?
As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football. - Atlanta NAACP Chapter President R.L. White
And, as a society and as fans, we should aid in the rehabilitation of ourselves.
Or we will continue to be regaled by athletic 'superstars' saying things like this:
"We don't say anything about people shooting deers and shooting other animals, you know what I mean? From what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors and I think it's tough that we build Michael Vick up and then we break him down ... I think he fell into a bad situation." - Stephon Marbury
We made them superstars. We consume the product.
It's our fault.