The event, held to honor local athletes, is scheduled for Feb. 12.
Officials with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the event, say they’re reviewing the complaints that have flooded in online about the appearance of the quarterback, who was convicted and served time in connection with his dogfighting operation.
But they say they have no plans to disinvite Vick.
“There is a group of folks, who are very unhappy with Mr. Vick for a variety of reasons — and they are passionate about it,” said Harvey Schmitt, president and CEO of the chamber.
But, he added, “Mr. Vick has an interesting story to tell. It is one of an attempt for his personal redemption.” Schmitt also stressed the event isn’t about honoring Vick, but spotlighting local sports stars. “The recognition is not for Mr. Vick,” he said.
The announcement of the event on the chamber’s Facebook page has drawn more than 1,000 comments, almost all of them negative.
“If you want a few Champions to speak to your little group, how about inviting the people who had to rescue and rehabilitate the dogs that survived their experience with Michael Vick? Or lets hear from the people that had to deal with the bodies of the ones that did NOT survive Michael Vick? THOSE are the true champions,” wrote a woman who identified herself as Sandra Melvin.
A group organizing a protest at the event has seen 1,600 sign up to attend, according to its Facebook page.
Meanwhile, a petition demanding the chamber remove Vick from the program has been signed by nearly 70,000 people on the website Change.org.
Organizers say the event is an opportunity to “learn the real story about his incredible NFL career, his meteoric rise from poverty to riches and fame, his downfall, and his improbable comeback.”
The program is being held at PNC Arena, with tickets running as much as $75 each.
Chamber officials declined to say how much Vick is getting paid for the appearance, according to WNCN, which first broke the story.
Vick, currently a free agent, played for the Atlanta Falcons at the time of his arrest and, after his prison sentence, was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 5th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, chamber of commerce, dog fighting, dogfighting, evening of champions, event, greater raleigh chamber of commerce, michael vick, nfl, north carolina, philadelphia eagles, quarterback, raleigh, redemption, speaker, speaking, sports, vick
A professional wrestler’s dachshund has a broken paw, and a major league pitcher is blaming his torn meniscus on his boxer– both injuries apparently the result of some overly enthusiastic play between athlete and dog.
Former WWE Champ Jeff Hardy — that, in case you couldn’t guess, is him to the left — was playing with his dachshund Sophie when she jumped off the back of the couch and landed on the floor.
Hardy and his wife suspected the dog only suffered a sprain.
But after a few days of limping, Sophie was taken to a vet and diagnosed with a cracked bone in her paw, TMZ reported.
Meanwhile, in the world of real sports, Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland had arthroscopic surgery Friday after a run in with his dog.
Holland told ESPN his boxer, Wrigley, bumped him while bounding up the stairs, causing his left knee to hit a step.
The impact tore cartilage in his knee, and he is expected to miss half the season.
“He was running up the stairs and clipped me,” Holland said. “I hit my knee on the step, and if it wasn’t for me grabbing the rail, I might have fallen all the way down the stairs and cracked my head open.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baseball, boxer, dachshund, derek holland, dogs, health, horseplay, injuries, jeff hardy, pets, pitcher, play, professional, safety, sophie, sports, texas rangers, wrestling, wrigley, wwe
Last weekend, I went out to take some photos of golfers and ended up with mostly photos of a dog.
His name is Rufus, and he’s a very well-behaved six-year-old boxer.
A tournament at the golf course where I’ve started working, part-time, as a bartender seemed a good opportunity to test my new camera and try to take some photos of people (instead of dogs) for a change.
Then Rufus caught my eye, and wouldn’t let go. He was riding along patiently in the golf cart with his owner, staying there on command, and galloping along on the fairways when his owner gave him permission.
It made me wonder why there aren’t more dogs on golf courses. They would seem — were country clubs not such stuffy places — to go together nicely.
My bartending job is at Long Creek Golf Club — a not at all stuffy place. It’s a public course just down the road from my house in Bethania.
Last Saturday a charity tournament was being held there to raise funds for Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, in memory of parishioners Neena Mabe and Justin Mabe.
I proclaimed myself official photographer for the event, commandeered a cart and started taking photos of golfers — at least until I saw Rufus.
By morning’s end, I had about 150 photos of golfers, and about 50 of Rufus. I couldn’t help myself. Boxers, it seems to me, have among the most expressive of all dog faces — including that one that seems to say, “What, you’re not going to take me along?”
That may or may not be why the owner of Rufus, who was competing in the tournament, brought him along. Rufus had perfect manners, didn’t bark once and seemed to totally enjoy the outing. As far as I could see, he bothered nobody, and charmed dozens.
I’m sure those who take golf ultra-seriously would probably be averse to dogs on the course. Dogs could be distracting, or slow down play. But with one as well-behaved as Rufus – or, generally speaking, Ace — I see no problem with them tagging along with their owner, on a slow day, assuming their owner is cleaning up after them.
Given golfers have to bend over at least 36 times anyway — between teeing up and getting their ball out of the cup — what’s one or two more squats to pick up a little doggie waste?
Having a dog along could even be helpful — at least for me. I generally need a search party to find where my ball landed. (Usually it can be found in the ruff.) Plus, I could blame all my bad shots on him.
I don’t play golf much because it can lead to me getting very frustrated. With a dog along, that might be less likely to happen, given dogs tend to both help us keep things in perspective and soothe us when we get ourselves frazzled.
I’m not sure Ace would be as good as Rufus is at riding in the cart — or whether the two of us can even fit in one — but I’m determined to give it a try. (Yes, we could walk, but to me driving the golf cart is far more fun than the actual game.)
Sometime in the next month or two, on an afternoon I’m not behind the bar, we’ll put a few bottles of water in a cooler, and perhaps a beer or two, pack up a bowl and some poop bags and hit the links. Rest assured, we’ll give you a full report.
And we’ll prove, maybe — or maybe not — that dogs and golf are made for each other, assuming the dogs can learn a few simple rules:
– Don’t pick up the golf ball, unless you’re improving my lie, or moving it closer to the pin.
– Be quiet, and courteous to other golfers.
– Stay with your group and, at least until they’ve hit the ball, behind them.
– Don’t pee or poop on the greens.
– And, of course, always tip the bartender.
(Do you golf with your dog? Know any dog-friendly golf courses? If so, please feel free to share your tips and experiences — good, bad and ugly — via a comment.)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bethania, boxer, dog, dog friendly, dogs, dogs allowed, dogs and golf, etiquette, golf, golf and dogs, golf courses, golfing, long creek golf club, manners, north carolina, pets, rufus, sports, winston-salem
It’s unfair to cast aspersions on an entire sport because of the actions of just one player.
Then again, it’s unfair to pick a dog up by the neck and hurl it into the stands.
That’s what Enzo Jose Jimenez did when a dog wandered onto the field in a minor league match between his Bella Vista team and the San Juan team in the Tucuman province of Argentina.
A referee flashed a red penalty card and the player was expelled from the game.
We’d like to see him expelled from the team, the league, the sport and, at least for a year or two, from free society.
Fox Sports de Argentina broadcast images on Tuesday showing the player using both hands to grab the mid-size black-and-white dog by the neck and throw it toward the bleachers.
The dog struck a chain-link fence, but quickly got up and ran away with no injuries, or at least no apparent ones.
There are no reports of any charges being filed against the player, but it’s being reported that the soccer club terminated Jimenez’s contract yesterday.
Club Sportivo Bella Vista, issued a statement last night calling his actions “incomprehensible” (assuming this translation is correct) and saying he had been kicked off the team.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: argentina, bella vista, bleachers, cruelty to animals, dog, expelled, field, gimenez, hurled, jose, jose jimenez, neck, penalty, san juan, soccer, sports, stands, thrown, tucuman, video
Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle admits he and his wife sometimes rooted for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to be injured on the field — as payback for Vick’s mistreatment of dogs.
“He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt,” Buehrle told MLB.com. “Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”
Buehrle’s comments were later removed from the MLB.com article that was published Wednesday, but the author of the article, Scott Merkin, tweeted some of them, according to the Sporting News.
The Buehrles own three dogs and are active in the rescue community.
Of course, Buehrle wasn’t the first person to wish bad things on Vick, who — in addition to teaming up with the Humane Society of the United States to send an anti-dogfighting message — has managed to have mostly good ones come his way since serving 23 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.
“Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two dogs fight and one is going to die?” Buehrle was quoted as saying. “How could you do that if you are somewhat sane?”
Buehrle’s comments were much tamer than those of political commentator Tucker Carlson, who said in December that Vick should have been executed for his crimes.
Carlson later said he “overspoke.”
That seems to be a common ailment among humans these days.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: article, baseball, buehrle, chicago white sox, comeback player of the year, dogfighting, dogs, football, hurt, injured, karma, major league baseball, mark buehrle, michael vick, mlb, mlb.com, nfl, pitcher, scott merkin, sports, vick, white sox, wish
Perturbed by the praise Michael Vick has been receiving for his performance on the field, guitarist Nils Lofgren has written an open letter to sports reporters, arguing Vick doesn’t deserve all the cheerleading, an MVP award, or even a place in the NFL.
“I am so disheartened and disappointed by your collective, lopsided praise of Michael Vick due to his recent spectacular on-field performance,” Logfren, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, begins.
“I support his right to earn a living. But, while I can’t fault him for taking great advantage of the opportunities afforded him by playing in the NFL, I feel he does not deserve that lofty a place in our society and culture. However repentant he may be, he committed acts whose vileness will resonate down the years. When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.
“Shame on the NFL for not banning him permanently.”
Apparently the letter was prompted by a comment made by Jemele Hill on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters,” that if Josh Hamilton could win one of baseball’s MVP awards after recovering from alcohol and drug abuse, why couldn’t Vick win the award in the NFL?
“Well, for one thing, Hamilton has neither tortured dozens of dogs nor murdered defenseless animals,” Lofgren wrote. “ … In Vick’s case, I believe his second chance should certainly allow him to be free and to love and raise his family. I think he should make speeches about the error of his ways and help animal groups. I understand that he is doing some of these things and I applaud that. He’s also admitted to being haunted by his dogfighting days. That growth is welcome and necessary, but comes too late for me and those dogs.
Vick, formerly quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was convicted on dogfighting charges and served nearly two years in prison. After his release he was signed last year by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“How can we justify this saga to our children?” Lofgren asked in the letter. ” …Well kids, although doing those things is wrong, two years after you admit to doing them the NFL will let you have a job that may lead to an MVP award and many millions of dollars in a new contract.
Lofgren added, “…(T)he cynic in me thinks maybe if Vick were a third-string lineman, the NFL would have set an example and banned him for life. Maybe many of the other significant charges Vick was facing wouldn’t have gone away if he didn’t have the prestige of being an NFL quarterback who can afford high-priced lawyers to wrangle pleas and deals.
“For the NFL to be that forgiving of evil, vicious behavior is a terribly inappropriate act of forgiveness and has brought a sick, sad, dirty feeling to many of us fans who have loved the game for so long.
“And to you reporters, whom I enjoy and respect, the sentiments in this letter are suspiciously absent in your hundreds of hours of Vick coverage … Just because the NFL lost its spine and common sense on this matter doesn’t mean you reporters have to get in line and go along.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, bruce springsteen, conviction, coverage, deaths, dogfighting, e street band, football, guitarist, letter, media, michael vick, musician, news, nfl, nils lofgren, open letter, performance, philadelphia eagles, praise, prison, quarterback, reporters, sports, torture, vick
White English bulldogs, all from the same family line, have been serving as the school’s mascot since 1956, PeoplePets reports.
In 2009, UGA VII passed away from heart problems after less than two seasons as mascot. His five-year-old half-brother “Russ” was brought to serve as the school’s interim mascot until a permanent replacement could be found.
All eight mascots have come from the same purebred bloodline and are owned by the Seiler family of Savannah, Ga.
Uga VIII, also known as “Big Bad Bruce,” was named in honor of Dr. Bruce Hollett of the university’s school of veterinary medicine. He will take over as mascot this weekend in a ceremonial “passing of the collar.”
The new Uga, like the previous ones will sit in his own house on the football field as the game takes place.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: big bad bruce, bruce hollet, bulldog, colleges, death, football, heart problems, mascot, mascots, sports, uga, Uga VII, uga VIII, university of georgia, veterinary medicine
For the second year in a row, Michael Vick has been rated the most hated man in sports, according to an annual Forbes magazine poll.
The NFL quarterback, who completed his sentence on dogfighting charges last year, was disliked– or worse — by 69 percent of respondents.
Vick, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, was one of five NFL figures on the 10 most-hated list.
Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, took second place on the list with a 66 percent disapproval rating. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger, who was embroiled in a sexual assault investigation this spring, ranked third with a 57 percent rating.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones tied for fourth with Tiger Woods.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: al davis, ben rothlisberger, dog fighting, dogfighting, figures, forbes, hated, jerry jones, list, magazine, michael vick, most hated, nfl, philadelphia eagles, poll, quarterback, sports, tiger woods, top ten
Lots of sports teams call themselves Lions, but the University of North Alabama boasts the only live lion mascots in the country — two of them.
I dropped by to see them– Leo III and Una — Friday. Ace, because I didn’t want to start a roaring contest, especially after our gas station run in with the big yellow dog, stayed in the air conditioned car with my son, who, living in Florence, had seen the lions many times before.
Now 7 years old, they reside in the climate-controlled, 12,764-square-foot George H. Carroll Lion Habitat, which was built with a waterfall, babbling streams, two observatories, private dens with skylights, beamed ceilings and a shaded area provided by a thatched roof. The habitat cost $1.3 million. Feeding and caring for the lions cost $35,000 annually, all of which, like the habitat’s construction, is covered by charitable contributions. The habitat also boasts what it describes as the “largest kitty litter box in this part of the state.”
UNA‘s live lion mascot tradition began in 1974, when then-President Dr. Robert Guillot acquired a 12-pound lion cub, Leo I, from a Knoxville zoo.
Leo I lived 14 years, becoming a locally beloved mascot, and the outpouring of support after his death led to Leo II being brought to UNA in July 1988. Leo II, who Sports Illustrated once named the second best college mascot in the country, died in 2000.
Leo III and Una, born on November 18, 2002, were the first residents of the new habitat, which opened that year.
You can also see them via a university lioncam.
Tomorrow: Coon Dog Cemetery
To read all of Dog’s Country, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does american, alabama, animals, dog's country, dogscountry, florence, george h. carroll, habitat, leo, leo I, leo II, leo III, lion, lion cam, lioncam, lions, mascot, ohmidog!, pets, sports, teams, travels with ace, una, university of north alabama, webcam
If you watched last night’s Final Four in Indianapolis, you may have caught a glimpse of Butler Blue II, the mascot of the Butler University Bulldogs, a school that apparently — as the home team — got some special treatment from the NCAA.
The NCAA made an exception to its rules prohibiting live animals on the basketall court, allowing Blue II to make an appearance before the game, which saw Butler beat Michigan State for a spot in the final game against Duke.
Bulldogs, quickly growing in popularity — they’re now No. 7 on the AKC’s most popular breeds list — also serve as the mascots for Yale, Georgetown and the University of Georgia, not to mention the U.S. Marine Corps.
Butler University adopted the Bulldogs name in the 1920s, but never had a bulldog on campus other than as an occasional fraternity pet.
Then, in 1998, Kelli Walker, a Butler graduate, went to work for the school’s alumni office as the associate director of alumni and parent programs. Walker began researching the possibility of getting an actual bulldog donated to the school to serve as mascot.
Instead, she found an alumnus who donated money, allowing Walker to purchase the original Butler Blue from a local breeder, according to the Morris Daily Herald.
The original Blue retired in 2004 and now lives with Walker in Morris, Ill. Blue’s breeder offered to donate the school’s second mascot, Blue II.
Butler Blue II celebrated his sixth birthday on March 27 — the same day his teamed earned their final four berth. Blue both Tweets and blogs, and his favorite treats are milk and ice cream, but, as the video above shows, clearly not watermelon.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, basketball, blue, blue II, bulldog, bulldogs, butler, butler blue, butler blue II, butler university, championship, college, dogs, final four, indianapolis, mascot, mascots, ncaa, news, ohmidog!, pets, sports, tournament, video