Here are some excerpts from Bill Plaschke’s November 2010 article in the LA Times:
“Mel [one of the many dogs rescued from Vick’s dogfighting operation] was waiting for his owners to take him outside, but he couldn’t alert them with a bark. He doesn’t bark. He won’t bark. The bark has been beaten out of him.” “Every time the 4-year-old dog meets a stranger, he goes into convulsions. He staggers back into a wall for protection. He lowers his face and tries to hide. New faces are not new friends, but old terrors.”
“Many people will never get over Vick’s own admissions of unthinkable cruelty to his pit bulls — the strangling, the drowning, the electrocutions, the removal of all the teeth of female dogs who would fight back during mating.”
“Hunter and his wife quickly saw Mel’s scars. The dog wouldn’t bark, wouldn’t show affection, and would spend nearly an hour shaking with each new person who tried to touch him.”
“It turns out that Mel had been a bait dog, thrown into the ring as a sort of sparring partner for the tougher dogs, sometimes even muzzled so he wouldn’t fight back, beaten daily to sap his will. Mel was under constant attack, and couldn’t fight back, and the deep cuts were visible on more than just his fur.”
“”You could see that Michael Vick went to a lot of trouble to make Mel this way,” Hunter said. “When people pet him, I tell them, pet him from under his chin, not over his head. He lives in fear of someone putting their hand over his head.””
If you can read those clips without shuddering, you’re either of stronger constitution than most or you too could apply for a job at Bad Newz Kennels if/when it re-opens.
Here’s another excerpt, this time from an ESPN article detailing the findings of a 17-page report prepared by the USDA’s inspector general-investigations division:
“Michael Vick placed family pet dogs into a ring and his trained pit bulls “caused major injuries” to the pets at Bad Newz Kennels.
The report, dated Aug. 28, 2008, says, “Vick, Peace and Phillips thought it was funny to watch the pit bull dogs belonging to Bad Newz Kennels injure or kill the other dogs.” The report has names and phrases redacted in order to protect the anonymity of certain individuals who cooperated with investigators.
The report also states in mid-April of 2007, Vick, Peace and Phillips hung approximately three dogs who did not perform well in a “rolling session,” which indicates the readiness of a dog to fight. According to the report, the three men hung the dogs “by placing a nylon cord over a 2 X 4 that was nailed to two trees located next to the big shed. They also drowned approximately three dogs by putting the dogs’ heads in a five gallon bucket of water.”
Vick initially told authorities “while he assisted Phillips and Peace in the killing of the dogs, he did not actually kill the dogs,” but “helped Phillips toss several dogs to the side,” according to the report.
However, the report says Vick took back that statement when he failed a polygraph test. “Vick failed the examination as it related to the killing of the dogs in April 2007. Ultimately, Vick recanted his previous statement wherein he said he was not actually involved in the killing of six to eight dogs. … Vick admitted taking part in the actual hanging of the dogs.”
The horror described above, the repeated, remorseless cruelty, isn’t a “mistake” — it’s the basic dictionary-definition of the behavior of a psychopath. And that’s just a small snippet of the Hostel-esque torture operation Vick masterminded, bank-rolled, and lived almost every day for many, many years.
Of course Vick now claims he is sorry and feels terrible, but one would think that if Vick truly felt remorse the feeling would come with the understanding that he gave up the privilege of owning a dog. To defiantly complain about this situation even before he secures that huge contract he’s hoping for should be considered yet another glaring red flag, an indication that the Michael Vick Redemption Story is less a journey for forgiveness and more the calculated actions of a man who wants only to get paid and reclaim his former rock star status.
Another amazing aspect of Vick’s complaint is that he’s not even banned for life from owning a dog, hard as that is to believe after what he did. The restriction lasts for the length of his probation, so why he chose mid-season to complain is baffling. It reeks of that same destructive sense of entitlement that has defined Vick his entire athletic career.
All of this puts Eagles fans in a precarious spot. Acknowledge what he did and find yourself unable to enjoy your football team with Vick at the helm, or cover your eyes and ears, leaving them open only just enough to see the amazing feats accomplished on the field, knowing in the back of your mind that something just doesn’t sit right. Yes, his football exploits deserve to be cheered, but at what cost? It’s an intimately personal decision with no easy answer.
For the Eagles, the decision on whether Vick is worth the risk of a long-term contract is one that will define the entire organization well into the decade. Vick’s age and injury concerns as well as the numerous red flags involving his personality make for no easy solution.
Ultimately, the labor situation may make a trade of either quarterback a non-feasible option, but if the opportunity arises Vick needs to be foisted off on the first team willing to meet the Eagles likely exorbitant asking price. The NFL is a business not a reclamation or rehab center, and it would be smart business to move on from Vick before it’s too late.
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