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Why I object to the Michael Vick Project

The attempted reinvention of Michael Vick continues tonight with the premiere of BET’s “Michael Vick Project” — a quasi-documentary that focuses on his alleged redemption and glosses over the horrors he perpetrated on dogs.

As its name implies, the show stars Michael Vick, who, up to now at least, has been less than convincing in the role of the remorseful, regretful and rehabilitated fighter of dogs who managed to resecure a multi-million contract as an NFL quarterback.

The word on the show is it focuses little, and then only superficially, on the evils he committed — as has been the case with his appearances at schools and before youth groups on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States.

opinion sigThose appearances, the TV show, and his Ed Block Courage Award — all focusing on Michael Vick’s travails, Michael Vick’s “bravery,” Michael Vick’s struggle, Michael Vick’s “redemption” — are only reinforcing the concept that one can get away with murder, or at least end up sitting pretty afterwards, at least when the perpetrator is a quarterback and the victims are dogs.

At this point, let me say that I’m all for rehabilitation, and all for second chances. In the eight years I reported about and hung out with prisoners — murderers even — I came to know, trust and, in a few cases, even respect many of them. I’m not a throw away the key kind of guy.

But allowing a convict to return to society is one thing. Seeing him return to the NFL, giving him a TV show, and topping it off with a “courage award” based on — what? — are quite another.

Michael Vick has every right to pursue and obtain those things. I’m not saying he should be banned from reaping riches, or anything else, with the possible exception of dog ownership — only that it turns my stomach to watch it all, and to watch the masses not just accept it, but throw their support behind him.

Yes, he served his time. Yes, he has a right to make a living. Yes, he can throw a football. But as for his choreographed image makeover, I’m not buying it — based on the comments he has made and his seemingless emotionless demeanor. I’ve yet to see any remorse in his face, and I’ve heard far more, from him, about his suffering than that of his dogs.

There’s no question he — and many others — are putting a lot of work into redeeming his image, but that’s different from redeeming oneself.

In an a radio interview with Dan Patrick this week to promote the TV show (it premieres tonight at 10 on BET), Vick was asked if he would still be fighting dogs if he hadn’t been caught.

“That’s the scary thing,” Vick responded. “I think about it. I would have continued to put my life in jeopardy. From a distance I would have still been involved.”

James DuBose, CEO of Dubose Entertainment, which is producing the Michael Vick Project, said, “We hope his story will be one in which years from now, people particularly young men, will view and learn valuable lessons from.”

My fear — given that in the year since he completed his less than two-year prison sentence he’s been signed up as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, given a TV show and will be honored in March with an award — is that those lessons may not be the right ones.


Comment from meldasue
Time February 2, 2010 at 8:08 am

Thank you! I’m so sick of all the cheering for Michael Vick. ‘What man will do to the least of creatures, he will do to his fellow man.’ This is not a man who made a mistake. This is an evil human being.

Comment from siv68
Time February 2, 2010 at 8:31 am

People care more about animals then people.. How long will he have to pay?

Comment from cybersnoopy
Time February 2, 2010 at 8:34 am

vick deson’t belong to be able to walk in society. He is worse than a vicous animal & should be put to death just as he did to those family pets. DEATH TO VICK & ANY BODY WHO SUPPORTS HIM!

Comment from cybersnoopy
Time February 2, 2010 at 8:39 am

Philologist say that when a human harms defenseless animal that they have the mentality to become serial killers, child molesters, etc. But society is too stupid to recognize this in his actions. He’s in human & needs to be taken out of society a placed in jail for life if not given the death penalty. He’s a cruel heartless piece of trash & anybody that would support him needs to be evaluated also.

Comment from milo
Time February 2, 2010 at 8:58 am

how does this documentary have any credibility – when the co executive producer is michael vick?

Comment from Jonathan Gilbert
Time February 2, 2010 at 9:17 am

Like all I have I despise Vick for what he did, however, If his reaching out to the youth keeps them away from making the mistakes he did how cn we not support him? I have put the anger and hurt I still feel today and will atsnd up with him and next to him in his efforts to help the problem. Its about the dogs not Vick and not me.

Comment from bluhawkk
Time February 2, 2010 at 9:24 am

There seems a perversity in our culture that makes violent or wrong-doing personalities, celebrities or sports figures into ‘hero’s or ‘icons’

There is no longer feelings of guilt or shame, only that of being a ‘victim’ of whatever the situation.

Who started this campaign on behalf of Vick and why? How do other NFL players view this thing?

One can only hope that the program falls flat.

Comment from carey
Time February 2, 2010 at 9:38 am

“That’s the scary thing,” Vick responded. “I think about it. I would have continued to put my life in jeopardy. From a distance I would have still been involved.”

Exactly. Nothing of how many more dogs would have suffered. It’s all about him. Shocking.

Comment from baltimoregal
Time February 2, 2010 at 11:37 am

Thank you John for that heartfelt and well-worded piece. I hope we’ll be seeing you at the “courage” awards protest on March 9.

Comment from Diana
Time February 2, 2010 at 11:49 am

Well good…lets glorify him one more time! To whomever said some people care more about animals than humans…duuh, care to guess WHY??? I’m ashamed to be part of the same species as this thing. Folks, get together and write the network airing the show and let your feeling be known.

Comment from Darlene Harris
Time February 2, 2010 at 11:56 am

John, you totally get it. Second chance, yes… to be put on a pedastal like some kind of courageous hero – absolutely not. Already we are seeing kids that are trying to emulate Vick and be a dogfighter and get “famous” like him. Apparently his message going out there to kids is the wrong one.
Please join us at the Ed Block dinner on March 9th in protest of this travesty!

Comment from Kelly
Time February 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

I am also sick of Michael Vick and his makeover. Let’s not forget that he did despicable things to animals FOR FUN. I could care less that he is good at football. If it were up to me, I would never allow him to play the game again. I would certainly be banned from my job if I did something like that. I am tired of people making him out to be some kind of rehabbed saint. It’s bull. He’s a guy who got it good after doing a light weight jail sentence. All that tells kids who look up to this guy is that you can seriously screw up and be a horrible, cruel person and still get everything you want in life. That isn’t the lesson we should be teaching.

Comment from Darlene Harris
Time February 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Sign up for the protest group updates at http://apps.facebook.com/causes/422272

Comment from Gus and Wally
Time February 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Vick’s crimes do not stop at dogs. “Just Google it.” He has had many run-ins with the law including suspected super-violent crimes against humans. This knuckle-dragging bottom-feeding waste of oxygen needs to suffer the same things he put animals through because obviously society’s “punishment” (what a laugh) was not enough to keep him from flaunting openly his desire to return to the same crimes. I can only hope his probation officer is watching. Oh no – wait. That would be the overweight slacker football fan interested only in collecting his taxpayer-funded paycheck and spending it on beer and junk food while cheering on the prodigal NFL star.

We are becoming a nation of thugs who worship bigger thugs.

Comment from blondie0606
Time February 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

This was so very well written – I agree – it’s fine for a convicted offender to return to society and attempt rehabilitation. I DO NOT agree that Vick should be lauded by the NFL, given his own show and presented with an award. The sad fact is that this not only reflects on Vick and his offenses but on our society and the price we put on lives as well as the values we hold. How much lower can we sink before someone takes notice and makes changes?

Comment from RC
Time February 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm

O.K. I suppose someone has to say it – this is a cultural problem. The strong desire to NOT tear down SUCCESSFUL black men is an overriding concern in the African American community (as for poor and unsuccessful black men, the community cares little). You all know the names – O.J., Chris Brown, Michael Vick, etc. etc. There is an almost manic need to find a way to prop up the wealthy and high profile “fallen brother”. I’m not going to get into why this is, only that it’s a fact. For what its worth, I think Vick’s crimes were outrageous and the work of a psychopath. Had he been born white and German in the early 1900’s he would have made one hell of a Nazi. And by the way, who watches BET anymore? Is it 1994 again?

Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time February 2, 2010 at 1:04 pm

John, you summed up my thoughts and beliefs right here: “There’s no question he — and many others — are putting a lot of work into redeeming his image, but that’s different from redeeming oneself.”

I’m all in favor of people being able to redeem and rehabilitate themselves. I have wanted to give this man every chance and encouragement to redeem and rehabilitate himself. (I would say “repent” or “turn around,” but that would mark me as a religious nut . . .) I don’t see it happening, and all the rewards and all the hype won’t make it so.

When he can say “I hurt and tortured these animals. I am deeply sorry, and I want to make amends.” When he can then find some way to truly make amends–possibly by devoting some part of his life and substantial fortune to dogs still living–then I might believe him.

Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time February 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm

And literally, I was just thinking this past weekend that it’s been too long since we have seen an ohmidog opinion! I so look forward to your heartfelt, insightful, bluntly opinionated writing. (And don’t you have a book waiting to be born?!) You have long reported on Vick and his unrelenting, unrepenting, shocking evilness, but with almost never any inflection of your own attitude. Thank you for this. Your many responding blogs are sending you a personal message not just protesting the continued Vick horror, but about how much we enjoy JW. I suspect that ohmidog is changing you in ways that you never imagined! Rock on….

Comment from Jenifer
Time February 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm

JW – book? YEAH!!! Book! Book! Book!

And please keep opinionating on the Vick problem and anything else similar. Your faithful readers really enjoy your work.

Comment from Susan
Time February 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Really enjoyed your article, Vick was given his second chance. But what about those poor dogs that never got a second chance. He should still be sitting in prison not playing in the NFL, I hope the Eagles never attain another championship title and now they have this jerk on a pedistle where he doesn’t belong. They gave him the Ed Block Courage award, what courage did he show. To think if he hadn’t been caught he would still be doing this atrocity.

Comment from LoveIsThePits
Time February 3, 2010 at 6:28 pm

As an animal loving, tree-hugging, vegan, Pit Bull Rescue/Advocacy Group founding human being, the most compassionate and humane reaction I can muster for Michael Vick at this point is: “F##k him. Drown him like a dog that won’t fight and let’s move on to something productive.”

I agree with the author – everyone, even Vick, deserves a chance to redeem themselves – but, I’m done with this one. He has proven himself to be a morally bankrupt individual, there’s nothing even remotely valuable or informative about a TV show or an elementary school visit or an HSUS endorsement. He is all the man he’s ever going to be, sadly, and he’ll have a posse of equally ignorant degenerate lowlifes to invest their interest in his career and life choices along the way. Personally, I’m giving Vick and his notoriety the finger. We’ve got more important things to care about.

Comment from Starla
Time February 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Well written, John & I whole heartedly agree with your views. This statement from M Vick is really the icing on the cake though…”That’s the scary thing,” Vick responded. “I think about it. I would have continued to put my life in jeopardy. From a distance I would have still been involved.” How was “His” life ever in Jeopardy? And why does he say he “would have still been involved from a DISTANCE” when everyone knows he himself killed his dogs…not from a “Distance”…but up close & personal, with his own bare hands so he could get his sick thrills out of further torturing an already defeated & injured animal. He is one Sick & Twisted individual.

Comment from Tiredofyourwhining
Time February 4, 2010 at 12:07 am

Get over it already! The dude killed 8 dogs! The Greyhound racing industry tortures to death an estimated 35,000 helpless animals yearly, and none of the perpetrators goes to jail for a minute! Get a grip! Read this: http://westvirginianews.blogspot.com/2008/10/chapmanville-killing-fields-inside-one.html

Comment from Duval
Time February 4, 2010 at 1:49 am

I believe something larger looms here. Something much bigger than a loathsome murderer of dogs. Can you spell M-O-N-E-Y? BET’s trying to buy respectability for Vick just like the PA Eagles are doing by electing him for the Ed Block Courage award. If BET and the NFL can dupe our sad, unthinking society into thinking Vick has redeemed himself it will mean more advertising bucks and more season ticket sales.

Whores and psychopaths of a feather flock together…

Comment from Marian
Time February 4, 2010 at 10:03 am

I am ashamed of the Philadlephia Eagles for letting Michael Vick play for their team. He is a heartless cruel SOB. He should look like the poor dog shown in the picture. Anyone who hurts animals will eventually hurt children!

Comment from Bev
Time February 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Vik is not a reabbed saint but still a rehabbed dog killer he belong in jail and football suck I don’t like the game

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Time February 15, 2010 at 11:49 am

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