Life in the Doghouse

Aug 232007
Authors: Tyrone Reese

For those of you not living under a rock, you know by now that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is in some pretty serious trouble.

Vick will plead guilty to federal dog fighting charges – a felony – and could serve a maximum five years in prison and pay a $250,000 fine, although federal sentencing guidelines likely would call for less, according to

Some fans, sports talk call shows and even organizations, including the NAACP, have been grumbling that Vick is being unfairly treated.

The argument is that this is a case of institutionalized racism – that “the man” is out to take out another rich black male.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe institutionalized racism is very real. It is in facets of our government, employment sectors, justice system, education system, etc.

Yet the difference between a victim of institutionalized racism and Michael Vick, is that the victim of institutionalized racism has no control over the situation. Vick’s problem is bad judgment.

I am not alone in this argument.

Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon wrote “you wonder if the people who unabashedly apologize for Michael Vick, particularly in and around Atlanta, will see Vick for what he is, for what he’s been, or whether they’ll continue to give him the kind of cover that allows his brand of arrogance to thrive.”

Terence Moore, columnist for the “Atlanta Journal-Constitution,” agrees.

“Whether you like it or not, you can’t rob a bank, you aren’t allowed to kidnap people and you’re not supposed to fight dogs. Whether you like it or not, dog fighting is a felony. If you wish to be defiant by robbing that bank, or kidnapping those people or getting involved in dogfights, then you shouldn’t complain if you’re a jury away from munching cold beans on a tin plate someday.”

Just as a side note, both columnists are black.

Vick is a victim of nothing more than his own lack of common sense – something that’s been getting him in trouble for a while.

In March 2005, a woman filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging she contracted genital herpes from him and that he failed to inform her that he had the disease. Elliot further alleged that Vick had visited clinics under the alias “Ron Mexico” to get treatments and thus he knew of his condition. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

After a Falcons loss to the New Orleans Saints in November 2006, Vick flipped off fans in reaction to apparent booing.

On January 17, 2007 Vick surrendered a water bottle to security at Miami International Airport. Due to Vick’s reluctance to leave the bottle behind, it was later retrieved from a trash receptacle. A hidden compartment was later found containing “a small amount of dark particulate and a pungent aroma closely associated with marijuana,” a Miami police report said. Later tests indicated there were no illegal substances in the waterbottle and Vick was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Finally, we come to the dog fighting incident in which Vick is in trouble for today. Vick “almost exclusively” funded the dog fighting operation known as “Bad Newz Kennels”, but he did not share in the proceeds. The treatment of the dogs was sadistic and even involved some dogs being executed.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to kick a dog while it is down, no pun intended. It is OK for people to make mistakes, and I actually feel sad that Vick put himself in this situation but Michael Vick seems to have trouble learning from his mistakes, until now.

I can admit I may not understand the culture of dog fighting. I may not understand the thrill Vick received from dog fighting. What I do understand is if you are a high profile, million dollar, franchise player, you have to make better decisions.

Vick let down the Falcons organization, the NFL, his endorsements, the city of Atlanta, his fans and countless others.

For some reason, I just don’t feel like he’s the victim.

Tyrone Reese is a junior psychology major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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