Now, I don't expect much out of the mainstream media these days, and I most especially don't expect any hard news out of the Los Angeles times. But this slant on the Vick apology even disgusted my Mom - who's deathly allergic to dogs, doesn't think about them one way or another, isn't sure about the whole pit bull thing (she doesn't know any, so gets most of her information from the headlines), and has never had a dog in her life.
The title in the print edition of the Times was "Remorseful Vick enters guilty plea."
Remorseful? Really? Reading talking points crafted by PR people that carefully and specifically avoid all mention of the word "dog" or "animals" and refers to "the incident" as though this was an isolated, single transgressive event (of course, to Vick getting caught is the tragic event) counts as being "remorseful?" Huh - it would seem that sports writers are more easily impressed by words than actions - as long as those actions don't involve throwing a football really far, that is.
My mom and I - who are not, as it happens, sports writers - didn't buy the "remorseful" angle (it doesn't count as true remorse when you're just sorry you got caught), and we both received Vick's public "apology" with disappointment and disgust. Then again, I didn't expect much more out of a guy who got off on killing and torturing dogs with his own two hands.
That being said, it turns out that my disgust lies with the Atlanta Falcons franchise and the media outlets and commentators who seem all too eager to have an excuse to portray Vick as a repentant and worthy victim of circumstance.
Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, has no plans to dismiss Vick from the team's roster. Money talks, and this is a $130 million dollar investment parroting his meticulously scripted talking points. Of course, Blank was quick to pin his decision on (his version of) the greater good, noting that pulling him off the team would be "not in our fans' or franchise's best interest. It would be a short-term fix at the expense of our long-term success."
Rich McKay, President of the Atlanta Falcons, went on to say that the team would "aggressively" seek to recoup the bonus paid to Vick - an amount around 29 million dollars.
Gotta love this one - "We're OK with having a dog-murderer, felon and sociopath on our team, but we're not going to pay him extra money on a job well done for it!"
Clearly, it is much more important that the Atlanta Falcons owners protect their business investment than it is to do anything remotely ethical or moral in this case, making the Atlanta franchise no better than Vick himself.
Michael Vick did not only purchase a facility specifically to train and stage dogfights, nor did he merely sit and watch the numerous dogfights held at his location. Michael Vick tortured and abused the animals at his facility - he ordered the killing of, and killed dogs in horrific fashion with his own two hands, and this kind of amoral behavior is inexcusable. How much money does it take to make someone forget that the hands throwing a football are the same hands that enjoyed killing an innocent dog?
In this case, it would seem that it's around $130 million dollars.
It is vastly unfortunate that the Atlanta Falcons and the various news outlets are so ready to take a scripted "I'm sorry" statement as an excuse to portray an animal abuser and killer as a tragic, downtrodden victim worthy of sympathy. There are real victims in the Vick case - victims who were beaten, tortured and used to kill each other as entertainment - but apparently those lives, not being worth $130 million in contracts or $30 million in bonuses, aren't worth mentioning.
Pit bulls are dogs. Had Michael Vick been hanging, electrocuting, beating, drowning and otherwise torturing Golden Retrievers until they died, I wonder whether the Atlanta Falcons, the ESPN and CNN commentators, and the rest of the reporters calling his scripted apology to his fans "heartfelt" would be so forgiving.
Michael Vick has made it clear that he is not sorry for torturing and killing animals; his apology makes it obvious that his first priority is his image and his fan support. Not once was any regret mentioned as to the innocent dogs that were killed at his own hands; not once was an apology offered to the animals themselves or the organizations that routinely deal with the fallout from animal abuse. Vick's PR people are making a very concerted effort to avoid any mention of his actions or the word "dog" at all, and are making it very clear that what Vick is sorry for is getting caught, and getting caught so publicly.
Actions speak louder than words. But money talks the loudest of all.