When Vick signed on in 2001 with the Atlanta Falcons, his NFL contract was the largest at the time, worth $130 million. Although he knew dogfighting was illegal and against NFL policy, he jeopardized his career, his family and his fortune to invest in this sadistic urban blood sport.
Like most dogfighters, he became desensitized to the brutality. He not only didn't stop "Bad Newz Kennels" from operating for six years, he participated in an interstate ring. He was an active participant in the torture, in which dogs who lost fights were hanged, drowned, electrocuted and/or body-slammed until dead. The adrenaline high he felt from slamming a shovel into a dog's back, or placing a bet while watching the dogs' blood splatter against the plywood walls, is sociopathic, and I don't believe that any amount of crying he claims he did in prison amounts to contrition, nor do I think it injected a lasting surge of empathy that made him a changed man.
While being interviewed by James Brown on 60 Minutes, his expression of remorse reeked of showmanship and was betrayed by his smug affect. He talked of feeling bad for himself and his family, but only when questioned by Brown about the dogs did he seem a tad bit remorseful, and only through words, not demeanor.
Below is the segment from CBS's 60 Minutes:
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The head of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, along with his 11 million members, actively sought to expose Vick in 2007, get him out of the NFL and behind bars. After being approached by Vick's PR reps twice because of his skepticism, Pacelle spoke to the board and decided to allow him to work with the organization. Vick will do two speaking engagements per month in the inner cities where dogfighting is prevalent, and speak to the youth involved in the practice about how horrible dogfighting is. Although his name alone still sickens me, he is still admired by youth as a celebrity who not only has a great arm, but who also understands the thrill of savagely fighting and killing dogs. He connects with the brutality and violence dogfighting has to offer and can speak on their level.
If one dogfighter stops the madness due to Vick's counseling, then it's worth it to use him, however disgusting and fake I believe he is. The HSUS has real professionals who go into the urban communities and teach the fighters how to train their pit bulls and actively engage them in agility in an effort to teach them a genuine connection with their dogs. The organization has been quite successful with this campaign and has injected much-needed self-esteem into the community at large as a by-product of this effort.
Michael Vick did his time and is now allowed conditionally to play football. So be it. As for the dogs savagely beaten with shovels, stolen from backyards to be used as bait for practice, forced to breed, electrocuted out of pure anger and frustration, hung with cord from two-by-fours for enjoyment they don't get a second chance. They were horrifically killed. Vick stopped the violence because he had to, not because he wanted to. He feels bad for himself, his family and for getting caught.
And we are going to watch on BET while he gets his second chance, earning a cool $600,000. I will wait and see if he does make a difference in the communities he visits, and hope he does. However, I won't hold my breath.