The TALK, Part II By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor –...
If Vick Is Involved, How Many Others Are With Him?
SAN ANTONIO — The noose around Michael Vick and his involvement on dog fighting is tightening each day. From what was once maybe just unsubstantiated allegations of his involvement based upon an April 25th raid on a Virginia property he owns to now a report by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”, this story is getting bigger day by day and a once very secretive society may soon become very exposed by not only Vick but several other professional athletes.
“Everybody in the dog world is worried about Michael Vick talking,” the confidential source said during an OTL taping and shortly before leaving the interview room to head back to work.
“[Michael] Vick is making large money; he’s making millions, OK? And if he has to tell on some people [to avoid prison time], I think he would tell. I don’t put anything past him.”
Vick may indeed be one of the bigger bettors and/or fighters in this sport but the source is correct in one assessment; if it came down to him doing time and/or losing his ability to make millions, Vick will snitch to save his hide. The question becomes more than whether Vick is guilty of a felony; just how many more professional athletes are involved in this cruel sport.
The Humane Society has been heavily involved in trying to eliminate this vicious sport. According to their website, “Dogs used for fighting have been bred for many generations to be dangerously aggressive toward other animals. The presence of these dogs in a community increases the risk of attacks not only on other animals but also on people. Children are especially at risk, because their small size may cause a fighting dog to perceive a child as another animal.”
Of course you don’t need the Humane Society to tell you that dog fighting is wrong. There have been countless incidents of pit bull terriers injuring children; if not down right killing them. Most people get these dogs not as pets for the family but to protect “something” of importance or because they are some type of status symbol.
In the dog fighting culture, these dogs are revered as much as horses are in the equine sports of horse racing and the like. This sport also draws some of the ilks of our society as well as the gamblers and “big money” people like the gentleman who spoke with ESPN said on their program. Invariably that means that professional athletes who are all about competition and bragging rights would be a part of this sport as well.
Whether athletes want to admit or not, being high profile has serious disadvantages and being linked to illegal activity doesn’t just go with the territory; it becomes part of the subculture of being a celebrity.
For many, being hooked up with something as illicit as dog fighting gives them “street cred” or a sense of “belonging” to the elite and that includes family members getting caught up in the craze.
SERIOUSNESS OF CRIME CANNOT BE IGNORED
This isn’t some misdemeanor drinking charge that we are talking about and this isn’t some childhood prank that Clinton Portis can laugh about. Dog fighting is a felony for a reason and unless Vick and other athletes involved live in either Idaho or Wyoming, it’s illegal in the rest of the country. Yet that is what makes this sport so enticing to many both rich and poor.
In Vick’s case, it is one or more family members who brought the light of law enforcement on that Virginia property. That’s the other downfall of being a high profile celebrity; family members think they are celebs too and thus they invariably throw their famous family member under the bus of illegal circumstances and the bright lights of the media.
In the case of Vick, he has some serious problems within his own family and those problems are fueling the story that we know now. According to the Roanoke.com website, this is what they found about Vick’s family members who have problems with the law, including Davon Brooks:
– February 2007: Convicted in Norfolk of disorderly conduct; was carrying Georgia driver’s license giving his address as house in Duluth, Ga., once owned by Vick.
– A pril 2007: Arrested in Hampton on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; told police he lived at 1915 Moonlight Road, Surry County, at house then owned by Michael Vick where dogs were found.
– T ony Taylor alledgely paid for 2004 kennel license at Surry County house.
– N ovember 1996: Arrested in Newport News on possession of 0.86 grams of cocaine; case dismissed after he completed substance-abuse program and following one year of good behavior.
– April 2000: Suffolk judge issued bench warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear on charges of reckless driving and driving on suspended license.
– O ctober 2004: Veterinary clinic in Smithfield obtained $145.50 civil judgment against Taylor in Isle of Wight County court. Four months earlier, Taylor had paid $40 for kennel license at Vick’s house.
– Charles W. Reamon Jr. Vick’s financial adviser; paid for 2006 kennel license at Surry County house.
– J une 1997: Fined on misdemeanor charge of carrying concealed weapon and traffic violation in Norfolk; trooper who stopped him said he found a handgun and two bullets in his car.
– J une 2002: One of 21 Norfolk International Airport employees charged with lying about their criminal records on security-clearance applications in a federal sting operation; pleaded guilty and was fined.
– October 2006: Convicted in Newport News of carrying a loaded .357-caliber Glock in an airport and received six-month suspended sentence.
– Quanis L. Phillips is listed as contact to buy dogs on now-defunct Web site “Vicks’ K9 Kennels.”
– October 2000: Convicted in Newport News of violating drug control act, sentenced to one month in jail and fined. Also convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to five days in jail.
– May 2001: Convicted in Newport News of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and fined.
– In May 2004, Mar cus, Michael’s younger brother, is c onvicted in Montgomery County of three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for giving liquor to underage girls; sentenced to 30 days in jail, sentence suspended on appeal.
– J uly 2004: Charged with reckless driving and possession of marijuana in New Kent County; pleaded no contest to the drug charge and received probation; suspended for the 2004 football season.
These details as investigated by Roanoke.com do more than show a pattern of behavior; it shows a penchant for many of Vick’s family members constantly being in trouble with the law on a continual basis.
What investigators are looking for is a pattern of breeding fighting dogs and also whether or not Vick and/or his family are heavily involved with the dog fighting culture.
For a quarterback who is on his last chance to prove to the city of Atlanta that he is worth the $130 million that Arthur Blank gave him, this does not look good for him at all.
On AOL’s “Fanhouse”, the site’s blog where bloggers post their own commentary on events about their favorite teams, the Atlanta blogger wrote: ” None of us really know what happened on that Virginia property.
The only thing we know is what the media spews out on a regular basis — the same media that cares less about the truth than the ratings. Whether or not there was even dog fighting on the property remains to be seen, let alone whether or not Michael Vick was involved with it.”
That may be true in his eyes but to say that the media does not care about the truth is typical spiel from those who are not journalists but wanna-be “internet” writers who found a quick fix for their itch. Look at what was listed from the website above.
Singularly none of these incidents could raise the flag of jurisprudence standard but taken collectively and added to what seems to be an ever growing mound of evidence, it becomes hard for even a homorist blogger from AOL to deny that type of information or fact. And evidently it must be serious enough if the NFL is allowing its security team to help in the investigation.
If Michael Vick is involved in dog fighting, he can forget about a one game, eight game or season long suspension. Roger Goodell is not going to let someone who has knowingly participated in felony activities represent his league.
If he is guilty, we will soon forget about Vick’s greatness on the field and sympathize how he could live a life so wrong that so many want to have and embrace. If he is completely innocent, then his family has just put his reputation in grave jeopardy and no amount of doing good in the public eye will clear his name.
The sad thing is that Vick may be the poster child for countless other athletes who are caught up in illegal activity like dog fighting. And for those who are a part of this illicit society, that’s a risky decision to be caught up in and it is not something to risk your career or freedom over.
But that is the choice that many people make every day and regulating morality can’t be done on a website, a column or even by a commissioner of a profession sports league. That has to come from the individual himself.
Eventually dog fighting and other illegal sporting events will be wiped off the planet but that is going to take some time. What fans have to realize is that if their favorite athlete is caught up in such illicit activity, making excuses isn’t going to help anyone understand what is at stake.
Yes, we need to sit back and wait for all the evidence to come in but professional athletes involved in these activities need to realize that in this day and age, the media will find out about those activities.
It may seem like it is “none of their business” however their privacy is not as important as for the laws of this country being upheld. Athletes may not like it and fans may hate it but that is what must happen.
In this case, an investigation into Vick’s participation in dog fighting will continue and the media will continue to try and find answers to questions they have no answers to or that no one wants to answer.