Thursday, August 13, 2009

So I’m back after an inauspicious six month absence. Which I personally see not as a commentary on my dedication to this blog, but as a commentary on the last six months...I will sit here and maintain that in the last six months, the most significant cultural event we have had is Stringer Bell making a guest appearance on The Office. Since then, nothing. Not even MJ’s passing could inspire me to sit down at my Macbook and give my thoughts. Until today...

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. ~Gilda Radner

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. Since April 10th, I have visited 15 major American cities. I’ve seen cities that are obviously amazing (New York,) cities that are depressing (Cleveland,) cities that surprise you by how cool they are (D.C., Austin.) Of all of the cities I’ve been to in my work travels, Philadelphia always ranks consistently high. Good people, good food, exciting nightlife, great TV show set there, it’s really a quality city. However from a sports perspective, I have decided that I officially hate the city of Philadelphia.

It started out with Shane Victorino being selected to the All-Star game over Pablo Sandoval. At that point, I was annoyed with Philly. Then I saw the Giants play the Phillies at home a couple of weeks ago. This was an important game to me, my girlfriend is moving to the Bay Area and it was her first Giants game, I wanted her to see a win. Instead she got to see Cliff Lee throw a complete game to stifle the Giants. I was fuming at anyone from Philadelphia. But then today, was the last straw, I turned to, like I do 50 times a day, and I saw the headline:

Vick, Eagles agree to 2-year deal

I now vow to never root for another sports team from Philadelphia.

I was a fan of Michael Vick, even back at Virginia Tech. During the 2000 Sugar Bowl, he was damn amazing to watch, and his team got destroyed that game. In high school, when I played Varisity football and we were picking numbers, when the number I wanted (#2, Charles Woodson’s number at Michigan, Deion Sanders’ number at Florida State) was taken, I looked at #7 and said, “Sweet, Michael Vick.” He was an easy guy to be a fan of.

The news that Vick got re-signed today really made me address how I felt about what he did. I had kind of chosen to ignore it for a while. Upon his release, I made jokes: I posted on Facebook an Onion article that joked about Vick wearing a coat of dogs to the meeting with Roger Goodell. I was reacting to his crime by being hyper-morbid. My initial reaction to the signing was of puzzlement (My Facebook Status: Will Vick be in Madden 2010 when it’s released tomorrow?) But then I thought about it, could I really support Michael Vick being in the NFL again...

I’m typically not one to let off-field discretions get in the way of letting me root for them on the field. In 10th grade I wrote a paper for English class about how the media irresponsibly covered the Ray Lewis case and created a false image of guilt that could adversely affect his trial. I vehemently support Barry Bonds who is known as a prick off the field and a “cheater” (I put that in quotes because I believe it’s subjective, is it cheating if everyone does it?) on the field. Usually, if I am a fan of the guy, I will remain a fan, regardless of character flaws. When I watch sports, I’m not looking for saints. I don’t want these guys to marry my daughter, I want to see guys who are electrifying athletes and entertaining to watch.

But with Vick I just can’t do it.

The man financed a dog fighting ring. He profited from the exploitation and torture of countless dogs. Not only that, but when dogs didn’t perform, he executed them in bizaare and disgusting ways. Why is it necessary to electrocute an underperforming dog? Why not just shoot it like it’s Old Yeller? That tells me that either he got some sick pleasure out of it, or someone in his circle did, and he was just too much of a coward to do anything about it.

It is beyond my scope of reasoning as to how or why anyone could willfully partake in the slaughter of dogs that way. I think back to my beagle Honey (My sister named her.) For all intents and purposes she was a terrible dog. She barked, after six years she was never fully house trained. Once during one of many times she escaped from our house, she snuck up behind my mom causing her to break her leg. She was so inbred she just couldn’t learn basic commands and coaching. But she was MY dog. I loved that dog, and she loved me back. When she was so ridden with sickness that she didn’t recognize me anymore I STILL didn’t want her to be put down. I just couldn’t bear to see her go. I selfishly didn’t want to see her die. Vick selfishly saw over 70 dogs die. I just don’t understand it.

The consensus amongst most of my friends who are football fans is that they are glad Michael Vick got another chance. And from a broad perspective I agree with them. This is America, Michael Vick paid his debt to society, he does deserve another chance to practice his craft. Too many ex cons don’t have the opportunity to return to their old professions upon release. Thanks to Tony Dungy, Michael Vick is the American Dream embodied. Good for him.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to root for him when he steps on the field. I hope for his sake if he doesn’t perform that Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb don’t electrocute him.