“R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Atlanta Falcons quarterback has been vilified by animal rights groups, talk radio and the news media and prematurely punished by his team and corporate sponsors.”
I didn’t have anything to say about the Michael Vick story until I saw this headline. Most of the things said by the NAACP are correct, and I agree 99.9%. Vick hasn’t been convicted of anything, and we should withhold judgement until he is convicted of a crime by a jury of his peers… as far as the crimial charges go anyway.
But I don’t agree with everything, and I’m going to stray into unfamiliar territory here… and defend the corporate sponsors.
(That wretching sound you may have heard was me saying goodbye to a perfectly good bagel and juice, which I had for lunch.)
The thing is, even Mr. Vick doesn’t deny (in public) that he’s exercised EXTREMELY poor judgement in this affair… and in several other little public relations dust-ups he’s had in the last five years. If he didn’t know someone was running an illegal dog fighting operation (those someone’s being his close, personal friends)… and KENNEL for heaven’s sake, then he should have. I don’t have dogs, but I have to immagine I’d notice if someone was running a kennel out back (unless I NEVER visited the place). Furthermore, this wasn’t some bungling investigation by the FBI… a la the Altlanta bombing fiasco in ’96. This was a case which has already been brought before a Federal Grand Jury for a vetting of the facts, and a jury of his peers has already determined that the government has enough proof to indict him.
Now that’s pretty bad, but it’s still not a conviction… or proof that he’s commited a crime of any kind, but we’re also talking about corprate sponsors here… not just prison time. No one has a constitutional right to have corporations give you millions of dollars to be their public representative. Since when does it require a crime to be unpopular? Sponsorships are essentially about popularity, not criminality… or even morality. When I saw the NAACP was getting involved, my immediate reaction was that someone was going to play a race card. You know what? I’m not even going to deny that race played a small part… maybe even as much as 10%. I may be overly naive in this case, but I think the spectacularly bad judgement on Vick’s part is the reason no one wants him to speak for them, not the color of his skin. The public is horrified that such barbarism was taking place in Vick’s back yard… whether he was involved or not. Like it or not, criminal or not, Vick’s not a popular guy because one way or another (black or white), he allowed it all to happen.
Then there’s this little tid-bit I heard on ESPN when the story first broke… Vick wasn’t even the original target of the investigation. If that’s true, then it’s not like this started out as a witch hunt, to make an example of a big star. Furthermore, ESPN claimed that Federal Prosecutors have a 95% conviction rate… largely due to the fact that they are usually extremely cautious in seeking indictments, making absolutely sure they’ve got the right person, and they’ve got the proof to put them away. I think some of this bears out from what we learned in the U.S. Attorney scandal this year… which revolved around a couple prosecutors (loyal republicans all), who wouldn’t pursue dubious, politically charged voter fraud indictments… because the evidence didn’t back it up.
One prominent defense attorney was being interviewed on ESPN when the story broke, and he was asked (I believe by Mike Wilbon, a promient black sports reporter on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interuption”) “what would your advise be to Michael Vick right now? He replied: “bring your tooth brush.”
Michael Vick has much bigger problems right now than Football and sponsorship deals. He needs to stay focused on his legal defense.