Deion Sanders wrote a column about Michael Vick's situation for the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press over the weekend. It got a tremendous response, largely negative. ESPN Radio read the column on the air this morning.
Don't be too quick to judge Vick
I would've never thought Mike Vick, one of the NFL's most exciting players — the man who makes the network execs smile every time he plays — would ever be indicted for crimes against man's best friend.
The potential impact could be devastating.
He could lose millions worth of endorsements. Nike has already suspended the release of his new shoe. He could lose millions he was supposed to get from the Atlanta Falcons, if the club decides to cut him. That's unlikely, but it could happen if he's convicted or makes a plea arrangement.
Or his reputation might wind up so stained that he's never forgiven in the court of public opinion. That would be too bad for the 27-year-old superstar.
This is all the result of perspective.
What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I. Hold on, don't start shaking your head just yet. Listen to me.
Some people kiss their dogs on the mouth. Some people let their dogs eat from their plate. Some people dress their dogs in suits more expensive than mine, if you can believe that.
And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You're probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest. Maybe, he identified with them in some way.
You can still choose to condemn him, but I'm trying to take you inside his mind so you can understand where he might be coming from.
I'm sure all of the animal activists and Humane Society folks have a dart board with Vick's picture in the center of it. And if he plays this season, PETA is going to picket every stadium where he plays.
Still, I must ask the question: Where is all of this going?
By now you've read all of the accusations about the cruelty involving the dogs — and I'm not just talking about their duels to the death. All of that is enough to make me cringe because I have three highly-trained protection German shepherds, just in case someone wants to rob my family.
Believe me, you don't want to deal with them. With one German command, our dog Yascho turns into Cujo. And for the record, I live around the corner from the police station, so it won't take them long to show up and save you from the dogs.
Now back to Vick.
Why are we indicting him? Was he the ringleader? Is he the big fish? Or is there someone else? The fights allegedly occurred at a property that he purchased for a family member. They apparently found carcasses on the property, but I must ask you again, is he the ringleader?
This situation reminds me of a scene in the movie "New Jack City," when drug dealer Nino Brown is on the witness stand and eloquently says, "This thing is bigger than me."
Are we using Vick to get to the ringleader? Are we using him to bring an end to dogfighting in the United States?
The only thing I can gather from this situation is that we're using Vick.
Was he wrong? Absolutely. Was he stupid? Can't argue with that. Was he immature? No doubt. But is he the ringleader? I just can't see it.
I believe Vick had a passion for dogfighting. I know many athletes who share his passion. The allure is the intensity and the challenge of a dog fighting to the death. It's like ultimate fighting, but the dog doesn't tap out when he knows he can't win.
It reminds me of when I wore a lot of jewelry back in the day because I always wanted to have the biggest chain or the biggest, baddest car. It gives you status.
Can I pause for a moment to ask you a question?
Who shot Darrant Williams? Remember the Denver Bronco cornerback? I'm just more concerned about bringing to justice someone who killed a human. Or finding out who broke into Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker's home, tied him up and robbed him at gunpoint.
We're attacking this dogfighting ring the same way a teenager attacks his MySpace page after school (by the way parents, make sure you monitor your kids). We should have the same passion for man that we have for man's best friend.
The reason this is turning into a three-ring circus is that baseball is boring, basketball is months away, football is around the corner and we in the media don't have a thing interesting to write about.
How will this end up? I have no idea. All I know is Falcons fans better pray because Vick's backup is Joey Harrington. Enough said.
God bless and God willing I'll hollah at you next week.
Wow. It escapes me how someone can have absolutely no grasp of the situation.