Making Michael Vick a Co-captain of the pro-Bowl Adds Another Layer of Violence to The NFL
Warning: Please be advised that the contents of this story contain graphic descriptions of violence to dogs that may be unsuitable for some readers. If you have experienced trauma, domestic abuse, or are sensitive to issues on animal abuse, you are advised to proceed with caution.
“The link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence is becoming so well established that many U.S. communities now cross-train social-service and animal-control agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviors.” ~ Charles Siebert, NY Times Magazine
The NFL has a problem with violence. Football itself is one of the most violent professional sports to the point that courts are hesitant to find for plaintiffs, who are also players, because of the ‘inherently violent nature of the game.’
True, it has moments of stunning athleticism, but the ugliness of violence eclipses it.
Players are aggressive on the field with a tenacity reminiscent of the gladiatorial games. There is even a list of violent spectator confrontations. But the aggression continues after the fourth quarter. David Evans in Psychology Today quotes Jon Shuppe of NBC News as stating that in 2018 there were 87 arrests for domestic abuse involving 80 NFL players over the previous 14 years.
Domestic violence and animal abuse go hand-in-hand. It’s all a part of the big, ugly picture. You have to look more carefully to see it. We shouldn’t be surprised then about the violence against man’s best friend by Michael Vick as he was surrounded by it growing up.
Sadly, the link was created long ago.
This goes beyond abuse. It was serial torture.
Michael Vick’s Record
Michael Vick missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons serving 18 months in jail for financing a dog-fighting ring. But the tales of pain and mutilation he inflicted outstrip the crime for which he was convicted. That’s because he and his co-conspirators were never tried for animal cruelty.
The federal government tried Vick and his fellow deviants for racketeering. This is an interesting fact, to say the least.
Donna Reynolds, a co-founder of BAD RAP, an animal rescue group devoted to rehabilitating Pitbulls, agrees that this is more than dogfighting. She states, “It went so far beyond that, and most people who defend him are uninformed.”
Supporters were denied access to the real story because it was, in essence, hidden. Reynolds said that not charging him meant football fans were spared the gruesome details and were able to ‘go back to their Sunday night ritual with barely a hiccup.’
Vick was punishing the dogs.
The mistake was he got caught.
Maybe he can’t help the way he is, and when all is said and done, he is a victim of violence, too. He should be pitied, counseled, and prayed for, but not honored.
I don’t know how you come to enjoy inflicting suffering, but once you do, it’s there to stay. It’s not something you can, “unlike.”
This isn’t Facebook.
The Question of Rehabilitation
In Rehabilitating Animal Abuser Through the Use of Technology, published in The Benchmark Animal Rehabilitation Curriculum B.A.R.C. by the Justice Academy Journal; Law and Justice Executive Series, it states that:
“In certain parts of the U.S. and other countries, activities such as dogfighting or cockfighting are considered to be an acceptable form of entertainment or sport.”
Dogfighting is normal behavior to Vick, and so is his ability and desire to inflict a slow and painful death. His so-called rehabilitation is right up there with the criminally insane sociopath who claims he’s found Jesus and is a new person. You have to ask, “Can someone like that be rehabilitated?”
Psychologist Stephanie LaFarge of the ASPCA, who works with animal abusers, says that when people hurt animals, they’re trying to hurt a person. But that’s inside the home, and the target is not the animal, but the owner of the animal.
It’s about causing pain and humiliation to a helpless victim. But again, this was more.
Rehabilitate is a verb meaning “to restore someone to normal life by training and therapy or return something to its former condition.” You have to ask, what was his former condition, and what is normal for him?
The NFL doesn’t care.
Vick’s Record of Torture
Vick nailed a dog to a tree for losing; he pitted family pets against the trained dogs; he cut off one dog’s lips to make it look more fierce; and finally, he set-up a “rape” corner by tieing a female to a tree so the males could take their turns with her.
That’s a shortlist.
The anti- Vick Change.org petition, “Do not allow Michael Vick to be honored in the NFL Pro Bowl” contains the following snippet:
The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption.
“And then there was one last body that stood out from the rest. It had signs of bruising on all four ankles and all along its side. Brownie had said that all the dogs that didn’t die from being hanged were drowned, except one.
As that dog lay on the ground fighting for air, Quanis Phillips grabbed its front legs, and Michael Vick grabbed its hind legs. They swung the dog over their head like a jump rope then slammed it to the ground. The first impact didn’t kill it. So [they] slammed it again. The two men kept at it, alternating back and forth, pounding the creature against the ground, until at last, the little red dog was dead.”
Yet the pro-Vick petition at Change.org states:
“ Michael Vick was an amazing player during his time in the NFL. He committed a crime. He paid his debt for that crime. His crime doesn’t negate his records and his contribution to the teams he played for. The same people who will preach about forgiveness for injustices against human life will hold grudges in regards to animals. Forgiveness is forgiveness.”
And violence is violence; torture is torture. Forgiveness doesn’t change it.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appears to agree with the forgiveness, but only because it means more money and sidesteps the bigger issue: domestic violence in professional football.
Lack of Consistency
Following his arraignment in July 2007, Roger Goodell wrote to Vick to express his disapproval. He stated that he had participated in conduct that was “not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible.”
When the NFL reinstated Vick in 2009, Goodell encouraged him to: “take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career. If you do this, the NFL will support you.”
And now Goodell released the following statement in support of Vick:
“Over the last nine years or so, I have supported Michael and his, I think, recognition of the mistake that he made. He’s paid every price for that. He has been accountable for it. He has worked aggressively with the Humane Society and other institutions to deal with animal rights and to make sure people don’t make the same mistake he made. And I admire that.”
Suddenly his behavior is not ‘reprehensible.’ He admires Vick! It was just a mistake. A mistake neither he nor his any of his conspirators served time for. A mistake that was kept out of court and, therefore, out of the public’s view.
Avoiding that hiccup saved the NFL a lot of money. The NFL makes roughly $7B for its football games on television rights. The total includes ESPN, Fox, CBS, NBC, and Direct TV.
Vick followed orders and took advantage of ‘the resources.’ He did what the man who signs his paycheck told him to do. Colin Kaepernick took a knee and got it worse. Why? He refused to do what the man said. He has the courage of his convictions.
Goodell and Vick get to make a lot more money together, and that’s the name of the game.
Hit them in the pocketbook
Vick didn’t make one bad mistake. Losing your temper is a mistake. Manslaughter is a mistake. Serial torture does not fall into the mistake category, nor does anything you do again and again.
Goodell is appealing to shareholders or, better yet, their money. According to USA Today, the NFL made roughly $16B in revenue in 2018. It makes money through TV, tickets, merchandising, and sponsorships. Corporate sponsors shelled out $1.3B to display their logos on players’ uniforms, TV, and merchandise.
Money is power.
And this is where we, the consumer, can make a difference because we give them that money and power through our patronage.
Football is the most viewed sport in the U.S. with Superbowls ranking 19 out of 20 in the most-viewed broadcasts. And then there’s Monday Night Football on ESPN. That’s us.
So here it comes. Plain and simple, but maybe impossible.
Stop watching football
Don’t subscribe to DirectTV, CBS, NBC, Fox, or ESPN sports networks or NFL networks. TV is an enormous source of revenue. It is one of the most lucrative sources for the NFL and is expected to reach $25B by 2025.
You might be thinking, “Ya, right. You first.”
I am the first. I live in Boston, and I’m one of those awful ‘Hateriot’ fans. Or at least I was. I haven’t watched football since Vick was named Pro Bowl captain on December 12, 2019. And I won’t be waiting for a comeback next year. I am done.
- Don’t buy tickets to games.
- Don’t buy NFL merchandise.
- Boycott the NFL.
Start a trend. Get off your butts. Turn off the TV and have a pick-up game with the guys. Or girls. Or your kids. You might even take off a few pounds and save a few bucks.
If enough people spend their time and money elsewhere, it will make a difference. Money talks, and it’s the only language the NFL speaks. It will take a lot of us, but the good news is there are a lot of us. According to the 2018 Nielsen ratings, television networks averaged 15.8 million viewers during the regular season.
That figure doesn’t include the Super Bowl.
Force the NFL to face its legacy of violence. If you care, this is what we all have to do. Together. Expecting the NFL to behave responsibly is not going to happen until you take away the candy, and the monetary gain goes down.
Let’s do it.
Are you with me?
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