Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Michael Vick Question: An Interspecies Panel Discussion

This week Michael Vick will meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his future with the league. A number of news sources have noted that it is highly likely Vick will be given provisional reinstatement and will be allowed to attend training camp if he is signed to a team.

I'll have to admit that my initial response was, "Well, that wraps it up for the NFL for me". After all, why would I want to invest time, money and emotion into following a league that would hire someone like Vick when people like Brett Queener and Alexander Ovechkin are still walking the planet as professional athletes? Being able to enjoy mad skills and almost otherworldly creativity in play shouldn't entail feeling dirty. (Okay, it can if you're with a group of women your age and older who are eyeing Tootoo and Little Ryan for all the wrong reasons, but...well, never mind.)

Maybe it was time to go beyond a gut check and get opinions from some friends of mine who love sports and could also offer some insight into human/animal relationships. Without further ado, let me introduce the panel:

Kevin has been an athlete since elementary school. His love of track and field events started when he went home from his third grade field day with a fist full of ribbons and a gift certificate from the local Krystal. His tastes have changed since then. Now he prefers White Castle, pina coladas and walks in the rain. He is Sophie's Daddy.

Sophie is a 14 year old golden retriever. Her athletic resume includes Senior Agility Camp for Fat Dogs, eating That Mean Bitch Chicken Trudy down to her demonic waist for chasing small children and marathon farting. She roots for Alabama football, Teller over Penn and everyone in the WNBA over LeBron.

Bernard is a retired Longhorn rodeo bull. He was rescued when someone found out that he was going to be barbecued due to his reluctance to get mean for rodeo audiences. He now lives on a small hobby farm with his adopted family. His favorite food is stolen cole slaw from the big church Tupperware bowl.

Maggie doesn't sweat, she glows. She will also occasionally wallow in the back yard kiddie pool. This lovely Hampshire sow adores Michael Phelps and thinks couture footwear is delicious. On cooler days she can be found in her Radio Flyer convertible, where she matches speeds with Jimmy Johnson. In her head.

Arnott and Tootoo are Beautiful Alice's sons' guard hamsters. They prefer nocturnal runs on their squeaky cage wheel, chewing and frantic relay sprints behind heavy furniture minutes before Gramma is scheduled to arrive. Their owners are still blissfully unaware that Arnott and Tootoo are female.

Me: Good morning everyone! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Is everyone up to speed about Michael Vick?

Goodell has got to be kidding! I threw my squeaky badger at the TV when I saw the crawl under the Espys last night. I mean, come the freak ON!

Me: Does anyone else want to share their initial reaction?

Bernard: I wouldn't mind seeing Goodell and Vick booted around a pen. It would be even sweeter if they were upside down in rubber barrels.

Maggie: Heathens. Michael Phelps would never be mean to a dog.

Arnott: If Vick would be cruel to a dog, how effective could he possibly be on the field?

Tootoo: Defintiely a scaredy loser. He'd turtle the first time things got a little rough.

Arnott: Yeah. Is there an NFL team with pink jerseys?

Sophie: And ruffles.

Tootoo: And they could put "Turtle Vick" on the back.

(At this point lots of giggling ensued and I had to wait for everyone to calm down.)

Maggie: I know a turtle who would be better on the field. He's a pretty aggressive snapper.

Me: Kevin, what was your reaction?

Kevin: Well, I was disappointed.

Sophie: And?

Kevin: Very disappointed.

Tootoo: That's it?

Arnott: He's such a girl.

Sophie and Maggie: Hey!

Bernard: Of course I'm angry. I think that is the general reaction, but beyond that how does one respond? A decent person would understand his return to the sport would be problematic and consider other options. That he would do this, thus putting the onus on the league and the fans to forgive and forget, shows that he's still pretty self-centered. He needs to rethink this.

Arnott: He needs a swift kick in the harbles.

Tootoo: Yeah!

Me: Girls...

Sophie and Maggie: What?

Me: (sighing) Tootoo, Arnott...

Arnott: I'm just saying...

Kevin: Are you saying he should just go away?

Bernard: Maybe not that. There are other things he could do and still be involved in the NFL.

Maggie: That's a good point. Legally, he has paid his debt. He has a right to live his life and pursue what he wants. However, this doesn't mean he has a right to play pro ball. Something like that seems more like a privilege, especially given the nature of funding for pro sports, which more often than not are heavily subsidized by local taxpayers. Should the citizens of whatever city holds the franchise where he'd play be required to pay him to play ball? That's what it would amount to and I would be pretty resentful of my tax dollars going towards Vick's paycheck.

Kevin: That kind of cruelty is pretty off the charts in terms of bad behavior. I mean, people have been banned from sports for gambling, juicing and even talking trash about ex girlfriends. This guy tortured and killed dogs. Does he deserve another shot at pro ball just because he's dotted the i's and crossed the t's in a legal sense?

Me: People can change.

Bernard: Maybe he has. You know? I kind of doubt it.

Sophie: Me, too. And there's something about wanting to go back to the NFL that seems like he feels entitled. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Tootoo: Strong words from someone who eats poop.

Sophie: So do you.

Tootoo: Nuh uh. That's Arnott.

Arnott: I do not.

Sophie: Which of you is which? I can't even tell you two apart.

Tootoo: Oh nice. Poop eater.

Sophie: Oh, go lick your own harbles.

Arnott: That shows how much you know, smart girl. Hampsters don't have harbles!

Me: Okay, that's all the time we have for today. I would like to thank my guests, Kevin, Maggie, Bernard, Sophie, Arnott and Tootoo for joining me. Thank you, readers for clicking in. Until next time, this is Jas Faulkner hoping you have a good day.

copyright 2009 jas faulkner


MEC said...

I have mixed feelings about whether Vick should be reinstated as an NFL player. On the one hand, he Paid His Debt To Society. On the other hand, professional athletes are role models (whether they should be is a whole 'nother question), and letting him go on as if nothing happened sends a message to young people that doing something really bad doesn't matter.

Phyl said...

I heard a couple of sports commentators remark that we're a society that can forgive a guy for abusing drugs or slapping his wife around. But we love our pets waaaaay more than anything else, so according to these guys, the fans in any city Vick ends up playing in will react with extreme fury, so few teams will touch him.

I thought these rather gruff commentators were very sweet, to think that way (yay pets!), but I also think they're rather naive. Fans generally want their teams to win so badly they'd accept a guy who murdered his own mother, if it meant they could win the cup.

So I think Vick will be welcomed with open arms. And I'll have to engage in a big letter-writing campaign. *sigh*

bride of t-rex said...

I think you may well be right, Phyl. Me, I'm disturbed by this notion that 'keeping it real' means debasing oneself by doing inhumane things like having dogfights, but I guess that's a whole 'nother subject.

BTW, Jas, what did Dwight Gooden do now? ;)

bride of t-rex said...

Oh, and this is Bridget. I don't know how I wound up with this moniker, though it is pretty cool. :)

Lisa said...

I guess I'm in the minority. I despise what he did, but he was convicted, sentenced and served his time. I don't think we have to forget what he did, but is it fair to punish him for life? Then should the sentence for dog-fighting be life in prison? I'd have a problem with that. I wouldn't suggest the local dog shelter hire him, but I don't think we can ban him from earning a living, either.

jas faulkner said...

Love your nick, Bridget!

Should Vick be forever banned from making a living? No.

Maybe there's the expectation that sportsmanship should extend beyond the field. Then again, I have heard reps from the Predators state that they're "looking for character, not characters". This seems like a good way to determine who gets to wear the jerseys and who won't.

JMO, but the gentleman (and gentlewoman) athlete should be the norm, not the exception.

jas faulkner said...

Oh, and big oops and an apology for getting Commissioner Goodell's name wrong.