In the new GQ, Michael Vick bares … some
Michael Vick bares a bit of himself — literally and figuratively — in the new (September, 2011) issue of GQ, now available at a newstand near you.
In an article written by Will Leitch, Vick makes some revealing comments that seem to come from a little deeper place than his public relations team (it consists of seven members, according to the article) normally allows.
But most of them — like the tired old argument that dogfighting is part of black culture and thus OK – seem aimed at rationalizing, if not excusing, what he did to dogs. Leitch quotes Vick as saying:
“[The media] are writing as if everyone feels that way and has the same opinions they do. But when I go out in public, it’s all positive, so that’s obviously not true … You got the family dog and the white picket fence, and you just think that’s all there is. Some of us had to grow up in poverty-stricken urban neighborhoods, and we just had to adapt to our environment. I know that it’s wrong. But people act like it’s some crazy thing they never heard of. They don’t know.”
Vick didn’t make the cover of GQ — that honor went to another quarterback, the New York Jets Mark Sanchez, who was decked out for his photo shoot in a $185 sweater, a $895 pair of pants, a $590 belt and a $8,850 watch.
Vick — wait a minute, a $590 belt??? — Vick is featured in three photos accompanying the online version of the article about him. He’s clad, or at least partially so, in what appears to be underwear/protective gear from his new sponsor, Nike.
We don’t know if that was a condition of him doing the interview, or just business as usual at GQ, taking a perfectly good story and turning it into something that doubles as advertising — not to mention also serves to make us covet unnecessary things we can’t afford, such as $590 belts.
The article itself, though, is well done. It manages to partially penetrate the facade built around Vick by his public relations team, and get beyond the canned and rehearsed remarks he normally emits while suppressing his real self and following the dictates of the image-makers. At one point, Leitch recounts one of Vick’s first appearances before students, which, in conjuntion with the Humane Society of the United States, he does from time to time, impressing upon them the evils of dogfighting.
Vick is fielding questions from students at Philadelphia’s Camelot School when one asks, in connection with Vick’s prison sentence: “Are you mad about what happened to you?”
Fifteen feet away, halfheartedly taking notes alongside a cluster of reporters, I snap to attention. What a strange question. Certainly to many, framing the past four years of Michael Vick’s life in terms of something that happened to him suggests a gross misunderstanding of how he wound up behind bars. But this is not the way the Camelot students see it at all. The kid’s question is met with head nods and shouts of “You better believe it!” and “That’s right!”
Vick, who has barely changed his expression throughout the thirty-minute session with the students, smiles wide and looks over his left shoulder, directly toward the hallway of reporters. He glances left and right, cartoonishly grinning, all mock-conspiratorial. “Where the media at?” he says, and everyone laughs.
The article, to its credit, doesn’t totally gloss over what happened to Vick’s dogs:
In April 2007 … Vick, who had been taking great pains not to be seen at the kennels, “helped out” in the killing of seven dogs—the ones who had lost in the fighting sessions. He then assisted in burying the dogs, too. A week later, police raided the compound. Vick said at the time, “I’m never at the house…. I left the house with my family members and my cousin…. They just haven’t been doing the right thing…. It’s unfortunate I have to take the heat behind it. If I’m not there, I don’t know what’s going on.” He tells me today: “I was walking away, just totally refocused on something else…. I just happened to get caught out in the yard trying to help out.”
Vick also told Leitch that he wants a dog: “I miss dogs, man. I always had a family pet, always had a dog growing up. It was almost equivalent to the prison sentence, having something taken away from me for three years. I want a dog just for the sake of my kids, but also me. I miss my companions.”
In addition to making public appearances with the Humane Society, Vick recently spoke out against the Android app called Dog Wars and appeared on Capitol Hill to back an anti-dogfighting bill.
Since his release from prison in July 2009, Michael Vick has had a team of “at least seven” PR professionals working for him, the article says. Together, they formulated a plan to redeem, if not the man, at least his image.
Rightly or wrongly, as Leitch notes, what may be working most in Vick’s favor — when it comes to the whole “redemption” thing, and putting dogfighting behind him – is his stellar performance on the field last season. Leitch concludes:
We can be repulsed by his past, we can choose not to root for him, but we can’t drown out the cheers from Eagles fans. In the $9 billion juggernaut of the NFL, Michael Vick’s transgressions just don’t matter anymore, and maybe they never did.
(Photo: From GQ, by Peter Hapak)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: article, comments, culture, dogfighting, gq, humane society of the united states, image, magazine, michael vick, nike, philadelphia eagles, public relations, quarterback, redemption, will leitch