Last week, I goofed on Sports Illustrated for ignoring ongoing sports in favor of a Tolstoy-length profile of a guy who surfs.
This week’s “SI:WTF?” moment comes in the form of a Dan Patrick interview with Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Football season is, um, around five months away and Mr. Dungy is retired, so who better to interview?(?!)
Mr. Patrick asked Mr. Dungy about the latter’s plans to visit Michael Vick in prison. Let’s join in progress:
DP: What do you hope to accomplish?
TD: I want to go out there as a friend. I met Michael when we played [the Falcons] in Japan, and we’d always talked about going fishing together. I’m just going out there to talk about life and what he’s going to face. Most people are going to be against him, and he’s got to understand that. I’m going to talk to him like I would talk to my son.
At this point, there were three ways Mr. Patrick could have proceeded:
- “You do recall that one of your sons killed himself right before Christmas in 2005, right?”
- “Are you planning on bringing Andy Reid as support?”
- “If you were still coaching, would you take a chance on him?”
Unfortunately, Mr. Patrick chose “3”.
I’m very glad that this blog has such small readership that I can actually make a joke about the suicide of an 18-year-old and not feel like I’m going to get vilified too harshly.
But if you think I’m bad, Mr. Patrick is the one who seems to think Vick deserves a “second chance” because . . . guys with DUI manslaughter convictions are given second chances?
Just to prove I’m not making this up, here’s another excerpt:
DP: You could kill somebody and have a better chance of coming back [than Michael Vick, who bred dogs to fight to the death and, if the dogs didn't "show enough fight," killed them by "various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."] . . .
TD: I’ve said that. I agree with you. We’ve seen it. It’s happened.
DP: [Rams defensive end] Leonard Little killed somebody with a DUI, and it’s not brought up. But Michael Vick killed dogs, therefore he doesn’t deserve another chance. [I DID NOT ALTER THIS LINE IN THE SLIGHTEST]
TD: Some people say, “That could have been me; I drink a little bit. So I can have empathy for that, because that could have been me. But I could never kill a dog, so we shouldn’t give this guy a second chance.” It’s a strange mentality. But that’s what Michael is going to be facing. And that’s what I want to speak to him about.
I have no idea what Mr. Patrick’s point about DUI is. If he’s angry that people aren’t complaining that Mr. Little killed someone while DUI, then he should probably get out and protest the opening of every Matthew Broderick movie (as though they could have worse box office). If he thinks that DUI in general is as serious as death, then he oughtta ban Charles Barkley from his radio show.
If he doesn’t have any coherent point, and just believes that athletes should be out on the field, regardless of their legal transgressions, then . . . he’s your standard idiot sportscaster, I guess.
But I’m more interested in Mr. Dungy’s response. See, he thinks it’s a “strange mentality” we have, not allowing a guy to make millions in the NFL just because he spent his money building a dogfighting syndicate and, in his spare time, killing his dogs in brutal ways. I find it interesting that Mr. Dungy strips all the conspiracy, the brutality, the ugliness of Mr. Vick’s actions and replaces it all with “killing a dog.” It’s amazing how far people will relax their standards when a star quarterback is involved.
ANYWAY: all of this brings me to a thought experiment about Michael Vick. A little earlier in this post, I linked to his indictment, which included graphic details of how Vick & his pals brutally killed some of their dogs.
Here’s my hypothetical: How would your opinion of Vick’s case change if they had killed those dogs with the same care and practice that a veterinarian uses when putting a dog down?
That is, how would you feel about Vick if his guys had gently euthanized their rejected dogs with an injection, rather than killing them by hand? Would it make any difference in how “forgivable” his actions are?
(Note: Do not read this heartbreaking SI cover article on the fate of Mr. Vick’s surviving dogs until after you’ve thought about that hypothetical, because this’ll likely redouble your rage.)