This Week in Oh, No, He Di’n’t!

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:

  1. “You do recall that one of your sons killed himself right before Christmas in 2005, right?”
  2. “Are you planning on bringing Andy Reid as support?”
  3. “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.)

3 Replies to “This Week in Oh, No, He Di’n’t!”

  1. {because you asked…}
    Marc Hauser wrote an interesting book called “Moral Minds” that deals with this sort of cognitive dissonance. His thesis is that we’re hard-wired for a sort of moral grammar that recognizes intent , malice and so forth in the actions of other beings that have agency, and that that underlying grammar is often at odds with the structures of morality that we’ve proposed. The reason why Vick won’t get a pass where Little did is because we generally reject the thought of someone harming a person or an animal out of a perceived sense of malice.
    If it had been the case that he had “put them to sleep,” say, then the cultural sense of outrage wouldn’t be as strong. But the dogfighting thing in general makes him seem a worse actor than someone who has killed another by negligence rather than by intent.

  2. I’m always a little confused over the way sports is set up to pass moral judgments. Vick was arrested, tossed in jail and I imagine will one day serve his time. He has a right to play, and people have the right to think he’s evil. But it doesn’t occur to me that it’s something that needs hashing out. So I guess I find it bizarre that there’s a presumption that we need to sit down and figure out if Leonard Little and Michael Vick were treated equivalently.

    (I’m confused by the steriod thing, too. Cheating means you get caught cheating. When you get caught cheating you and your team should have forfeit everything since the last test. Why is this difficult?)

  3. Does Michael Vick Deserve a second chance?
    Watch this preview for VICKtory to the Underdog

    “Vicktory To The Underdog” takes an in depth look at world renowned tattoo artist “Brandon Bond” and his dog rescue efforts – particularly rescuing the infamous Michael Vick fighting dogs.
    Rather than focusing on the dog fighting problem, the movie sheds light on solutions leading to “Vicktory” for all the underdogs in the movie – tattoo people, pitbulls, parolees and all the other people in this world that society has turned their back on through ignorance and racism.
    The movie also examines the life of Brandon Bond and his struggle with balancing fame, fortune and the Rock-N-Roll tattoo lifestyle with a more fulfilling life that focuses on the betterment of both animals and society as a whole.
    Featuring celebrities like Debbie and Danny Trejo, Michael Berryman, Pixie Acia and Donal Logue, the movie takes you on an incredible journey you will never forget!

    Proceeds for this film will be going to Villa Lobos Pitbull Rescue.

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