Monday, March 16, 2009

Football, Dogs & Money - The Michael Vick Story By: Brian Heenan

Just a heads up...I was not assigned a case study as this was more of a research paper. So do not expect the 4-steps or SWOT's that you're used to. This is entirely different. It is broken down into sections: Backround on Vick and Dogfighting, Vick's role in Dogfighting, PETA and Pit bulls, Where Vick is now, other athletes who have fallen from grace, interviews, and finally Vick's steps to a comeback. And since I am doing this by myself, I really don't want to stand up there for a half an hour and talk away. I'll get bored and you will too. So I was hoping we could have more of a back and forth throughout the presentation and if you have a question or comment at any time along the way, please blurt it out and don't wait till the end. We'll see how it goes....


Michael Vick:
Michael Vick was born in Newport News, Virginia on June 26, 1980. Growing up, Newport News did not provide the safest and healthiest environment for Vick, or any child for that matter. It was a rough and tumble place that produced gang members and drug dealers, not top-notch professional athletes. The choice to stay local for college may have had a bad influence on Vick and his extracurricular activities. Growing up as a prominent athlete in Newport News wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Another local athlete, Allen Iverson, was always followed around by a troublesome posse that claimed to be his friends. They knew he would be rich and famous one day so they all tried to stick around him so they could eventually live off of his success. But as Newport News was known for its crime and gangs, trouble always seemed to follow Iverson. Vick would eventually deal with a similar problem. Had he gone to Syracuse, his ties with the “local thugs” in Newport News would likely have been snapped. However, it wouldn’t be until much later in his career that Vick’s association with these people would bite him in the rear, no pun intended.

Dog Fighting:
Gambling is nothing new to this, or any other country. The activity of wagering bets on various sporting events has been around for hundreds of years. Traditional bets are placed on football, basketball, boxing and horseracing. But one of the most violent and cruel gambling “sports” is the underground gambling ring of dog fighting. While dog fighting is a form of entertainment and a venue for illegal gambling, it is also a means to create personal revenue. A person or group who run(s) a dog fighting ring often charge admission to fights, but also cash in breeding winning dogs. Dogs are often judged on their “gameness,” or willingness/desire to fight. As this is the most valuable trait in dog fighting dogs, the more game they have, the more money they will earn. This also trickles down to puppy litters. According to the ASPCA, the owner of any grand champion, a dog that has won at least five fights, can sell the dog's puppies for at least $1,500 each.
Dog fighting in North America is illegal. This poses a big problem for those involved in the sport, but an even bigger problem for organizations such as the ASPCA and PETA. These dog fighting rings are hard to find. Invitations to them are top secret and with little or no warning. One of the most brutal aspects of this “sport” is how owners train their dogs to fight. The dogs are abused, starved, often times tied up with extremely heavy chains and beaten. This abuse is used to toughen the animals up and prepare them for fights. Another awful element of training these dogs is that owners and trainers will often roam neighborhoods and streets to steal dogs right out of homes and backyards. The trainer will then break one of the dogs legs or handicap it in some way so their fighting dog can train against a dog that will not harm them back. Such behavior is murder. It is barbaric. And organizations like PETA are doing everything they can to put it to a stop.


Vick’s cousin, Davon Boodie, was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and ended up giving police the address to one of Vick’s properties in Smithfield, Va. When police searched the property on Moonlight Road, they found enough evidence to seek another warrant involving animal cruelty. It was then that Michael Vick was immediately tied to dog fighting, yet Vick decided to play the innocent card and blame his ignorance for not knowing such activities were going on at his household. He initially placed blame on the family members who lived in the house for what was found there. According to an article from Sports Illustrated, Vick said, “It’s unfortunate that I have to take the heat…lesson learned for me.”
However, the evidence against Vick, and/or, his “friends” was overwhelming. As police searched the property, they found unmistakable evidence of a professional dogfighting operation. Deep in the woods behind the house, there were five smaller buildings all painted pitch black in an effort to hide the operation as nearly all dogfights are held at night. There were scales, treadmills to exercise the dogs, “rape stands” which are devices that hold aggressive dogs in place in the breeding process, “break sticks” to pry open a dog’s jaws, syringes, as well as diuretics and nutritional supplements. Another building housed over 30 dogs, mostly pit bull terriers, as nearly another 30 were found outside on leashes that were tied to car axles buried in the ground. Months later, Vick and three other men were indicted on dogfighting charges for activity over a six year period. Vick signed a plea agreement and a statement of facts admitting to conspiracy in a dogfighting ring and helping kill pit bulls, according to But Vick denied betting on the fights, only bankrolling them.


The treatment of dogs in these fighting rings is hard to describe and brutally painful to watch. The dogs are beaten and neglected during training. The dogs are then forced into a ring with another dog that may or may not kill it. And then the losing dogs are killed by their owners often minutes after the fight. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. PETA works through public education, research, animal rescue, legislation, protest campaigns, and in the case of Michael Vick, cruelty investigations. But as PETA studied the case and examined the dogs on Vick’s property, they believed that the saved dogs were beyond rehabilitation and that trying to save them would be both a waste of time and money. “The cruelty they’ve suffered is such that they can’t lead what any dog lover would consider a normal life,” said PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. “We feel that it’s better that they have their suffering ended once and for all.”
However, it turned out that 47 of the 51 dogs at Badnewz Kennels were rescued and brought to shelters for rehabilitation. With such an incredible number, the rescue teams credited the demeanor of the pit bull breed and downplayed the image that pit bulls have in society. Much of society is terrified of these dogs and sees them as vicious, mean and threatening. But the reality is that pit bulls are quite friendly. PETA’s stance on Michael Vick is currently in limbo. The organization teamed with Vick to film an anti-dogfighting public service announcement. Vick’s attorneys sought assurance from PETA that they would support Vick’s return to football if he filmed the PSA. However, their initial agreement broke down and PETA is asking Vick to submit a brain scan and full psychiatric evaluation before he be declared eligible to return to the NFL


After Michael Vick admitted to conspiracy in dog fighting, killing pit bulls and bankrolling fights, he began serving his sentence early and voluntarily entered prison on November 19, 2007. Vick started serving his time at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va. However, by early January of 2008, Vick was transferred to a minimum security prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. In an effort to reduce his 23-month sentence, Vick entered a drug treatment program at the Kansas prison. The program at the prison takes place in units set apart from the general prison population, lasting at least 500 hours over a six to 12 month period, according to Bureau of Prisons policy. As of February 2009, Vick’s lawyers expected Vick to be released to a halfway house in Newport News, Va. But as the move was being arranged, news broke that there was a lack of bed space at the halfway house in Virginia, which meant that Vick would be allowed to finish his sentence under home confinement at his 3,500-square-foot home in Hampton, Va. An anonymous official familiar with the case said that Vick would be allowed to make the move home on or after May 21, according to


Arguably one of the most disappointing things in sports is wasted talent. From the four major sports (football, baseball, hockey, basketball), to lesser covered ones such as golf, boxing and NASCAR, prominent athletes have fallen from grace for one reason or another. Whether the athlete suffers from a drug or alcohol addiction, abuse, infidelity, violence or gambling, the sports world always seems to have a few current athletes that fall under the umbrella of “tremendous athlete, bad decision maker.” Michael Vick is currently wearing that shoe. However, athletes aren’t the only people in America that fit in this category. There have been plenty of politicians, actors, musicians and businesspersons that have made similar career-threatening mistakes. Bill Clinton, Clive Owen, Chris Brown and Martha Stewart have all done things to mar their careers and the public’s view of them. Some of these people have bounced back, even better than before; while others were never quite able to rebuild their image and earn back the trust of the American public. But as Michael Vick prepares to re-enter the real world and spark a comeback to the NFL, he should take note of what other fellow athletes did right, and what they did wrong in their attempted return to the sport they loved.


Every disgraced athlete tries to take the necessary steps to return their sport and regain the respect of their fans and peers. Some athletes have had great success, while others have failed miserably. It seems to be a case by case basis and largely depends on the individual’s image before their demise. Athletes like Mike Tyson could not return to their sport because of the negative reputation he had built for himself throughout his career. Kobe Bryant could return to his sport because of the positive All-American image he built for himself during the first six years of his career. And other athletes like Charles Barkley took a unique approach in their return to grace. Barkley simply said to the public, “I’m not a role model…Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” And in a way, the public seems to appreciate Barkley’s honesty and forgive him when he gets into trouble. But in evaluating whether or not Michael Vick could potentially have a successful comeback to the NFL, you have to look beyond what other athletes have done and find out, specifically, if those in the NFL would welcome or tolerate his return.
In order to get a true feel for whether or not Vick would be welcomed back at each of these different levels, I spoke with an NFL spokesperson, the nephew of an NFL owner and a current NFL player.
Victor Abiamiri: Victor Abiamiri, 23, is an NFL player who plays defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles. “I can see why some players are upset and would not want Vick as a teammate and in their locker room. It would bring a lot of unwanted attention and create a whole lot of drama,” said Abiamiri. He continued, “But I also understand the players who don’t have an issue with it. There is something to be said that they are Vick’s dogs and it is his property, so if that’s what he wants to do, do it.” But the overall question asked to Abiamiri was if he would welcome Vick as a teammate. And his response was simple. “He’s a hell of a player and everyone deserves a second chance,” said Abiamiri. “I’d welcome him happily.”
Sean Rooney: Sean Rooney is the nephew of Dan Rooney, the owner and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers. When asked if the Rooney family would ever consider signing Vick, Sean Rooney believed that his family would not be likely to do so, but it had nothing to do with Vick’s behavior. Rooney believed that his family would forgive Vick for his actions and give him a chance, as a person. But he worried about Vick’s ability on the field. “If you’re talking about possibly three years out of the game, I don’t know how he (Vick) could not be affected,” said Rooney. He continued, “Vick’s legs and speed have always been his go-to and his development as a thrower has been halted for quite some time. To me, it’s over.”
Michael Signora: Michael Signora is the director of media relations and international communications for the National Football League. Signora was very political with his response when asked whether or not he thought the NFL would reinstate Michael Vick after his jail time. “Michael Vick was suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Goodell in 2007. He has not yet applied for reinstatement and when he does, the commissioner will consider the matter at that time,” said Signora, NFL spokesman. But when asked to put on a PR hat, Signora noted how a team should handle Vick’s return and pending backlash from the public. “They will certainly give thought to what message needs to be conveyed as an organization and who is the best person in the organization to convey that message,” said Signora. “This will likely be done in conjunction with the player and the message he will deliver when and if the time comes.”


In evaluating other fallen athlete’s attempted returns to their sport, Michael Vick can learn some things from his peers in an effort to better his chances of a successful return to football. In heeding the advice and following the path of these other athletes, Vick can start to construct a plan to convince the NFL to reinstate him and convince a team to give him a chance. NFL owners, NFL representatives and other NFL players all seem to have different views on the situation and share different sentiments in regards to Vick as a player and person. But if Vick employs a simple 3-step process, he can restore his image on the way to his triumphant comeback to the NFL. If Vick can recover from his wrongdoings, rebuild his superstar image and return with grace and humility, he just might make it.

Recover: Vick has already started taking the necessary steps to recover from his mistakes. He admitted his wrongdoings and issued many apologies to his team, the NFL, his family and fans. The audience that was most hurt from Vick’s behavior was the young children who looked up to him as a hero. He has personally apologized to that audience and must to continue to do so once his sentence is up.
Based on other athletes who have been in a similar situation, Vick must recover as a person before he recovers as an athlete. In order to make changes and start fresh, Vick must start with himself. Throughout this process, Vick has said that he has found Jesus and has built a strong faith that has allowed him to forgive himself and his actions. And the hope is that his personal forgiveness has been an ongoing process for the past two years. Because once he recovers as a person, he can start to recover as an athlete. And as that process continues, Vick must reiterate how apologetic he is to his fans because they are paramount in his recovery. While PETA and the ASPCA are strong and powerful organizations, Vick’s fan base could overwhelm those critics and be paramount in accepting him back, enabling him to move on from the recovery process and start to rebuild his image and career.

Rebuild: History has shown that the most important element in rebuilding an athlete’s tarnished image is media coverage. Obviously as Vick pleaded guilty to the dog fighting charges, there was nothing but negative stories in the media. Vick was labeled as a “thug,” as story after story emerged about his bad behavior and his “gang-like entourage” from Newport News. But what Vick has going for him is that this is his only blemish on his resume. And coming from the neighborhood where he grew up, there is something to say about that. Other troubled athletes repeatedly get in problematic situations and the media pounces on them, as they are permanently labeled as a troubled athlete with no chance at a return to their sport. But like the majority of the athletes before him, Vick is hopeful to get a second chance. But he is completely at the mercy of the media. As news broke that Vick was involved in a dog fighting ring and participated in the killing of dogs, he was the topic of news stories throughout the country. Talk show hosts, radio personalities, reporters and editors pounced on every detail of Vick’s plight. However, it has been nearly two years since the news broke and there has been very little written on Vick lately. But perhaps time is the one thing that Vick has on his side as he prepares for his return to football.

Return: While many NFL owners, teams and players believe that Vick will suffer from his time away from football, he might also gain from it. Obviously Vick has lost a touch of his speed and will need to train vigorously in order to get back into football shape. So while time away may have hurt him physically, it has also helped society mentally. Fans and media, like any human beings, often have a short memory. Vick’s bad behavior is not fresh in our minds. Other athletes who have had successful returns can credit the memory loss of society. Animal rights activists have not forgotten and they will be anxiously waiting to protest Vick’s return. So Vick can certainly expect backlash from animal organizations and lovers around the country which will certainly bring negative press. But again, two years have gone by and the majority of society and football fans will have forgotten the specific details of Vick’s behavior and forgive him for what he has done. PETA has also said that they will forgive, and even endorse, Vick if he takes and passes a psychiatric evaluation.
As time and society’s tendency to forgive and forget are on Vick’s side, so too is his God-given athletic ability. There is no doubt that one or more of the 29 NFL teams will give Vick a tryout, simply out of curiosity if nothing else. Vick was once the highest paid athlete in the history of the National Football League and a team could sign him now for very little monetary value. In terms of football, it would be a very low risk, high reward situation. But in terms of the public relations backlash, a team might not take a riskier chance all season. However, Vick seems so determined to return with a fresh start and a fresh team, that he will not blow this opportunity. Because history shows that if he is given a second chance, it could very well be his last.


Kelly McNulty said...

Kelly McNulty

One of the most interesting pieces of information I found in your case study was how PETA asked Michael Vick to submit to a brain scan before they aired an anti-dogfighting public service announcement featuring him.

According to, PETA spokesman Dan Shannon said, "If Michael wants to do a PSA with PETA against dogfighting, and he has indicated that he does, this is the condition we're setting," Shannon said. "He's going to have to pass this exam to do the PSA and we think the NFL should require a similar exam."

While I think the NFL should require a similar exam and I think PETA is smart for wanting one since they want to do a public service announcement with Vick, I don't really understand why they even want to air anything involving him.

I guess if they can be sure he has changed and wants to put his past behind him, it seems like a good tactic. The public service announcement would garner a lot of attention to PETA. But it would also garner a lot of attention to Michael Vick. I don't think, after being accused of participating in dog fighting and killing dogs, that he should be able to speak in a public service announcement, because is he just saying that because he got caught?

But I guess that is PETA's call, and I do agree that society's memory is short, and enough time may have passed that Michael Vick can make a comeback like so many others.

allison said...

Allison Kershner

One of the most important things that Michael Vick did in response to the negative publicity about dog fighting was to make an apology statement. Vick made a four minute apology without notes and claimed that he was speaking from his heart. He asked for forgiveness and understanding and took full responsibility for his actions. A video of his apology and opinions on it from public relations professional can be found on this Web site:

A comment that I found interesting was from a body language analyst. The analyst noted that Vick stuck out his tongue and moved it across his lips from right to left a total of 15 times. This action is called a “tongue eraser” and is known as an attempt to sweep away lies. This shows that it is important to prep clients on their body language before they go in front of the camera to make sure they are not sending mixed signals.

One public relations expert said that Michael Vick could improve his image by not only apologizing to the public but making an apology to his dogs or a donation to an animal shelter. I agree that Vick needs to take action in order to improve his image among animal lovers, especially if he is trying to play football next season.

According to the Bleacher Report, any team that takes Vick would face a massive PR hit and receive negative media attention. In my opinion Vick needs to step it up and do something more than just a PSA for PETA in order to show that he is truly sorry for his actions.

PSU PR Student said...

Lauren Rothbardt

I believe Michael Vick needs to work on his public image before ever entering the NFL again. However, with proper PR I believe he could make a decent return.Ray Lewis, one of the most adored defensive players in the NFL, was involved with an actual homicide. If fans accepted Lewis back there maybe a chance for Vick.

However, while a comeback maybe a good thing for Vick, it may not be a good thing for the NFL.
According to an article in the Bleacher Report titled, Michael Vick's 2009 NFL Return: Most Teams Will Avoid PR Nightmare,
"One of the problems with that is the massive PR hit a team would take in acquiring animal rights' public enemy No. 1. Along with Vick would come so much negative media attention that most teams would not welcome," (

Laura said...

After reading your blog on Vick’s case I watched his 4 minute apology on YouTube
and it seemed like he was suffering but I would be to if I was the highest paid player in the NFL and was now going to jail for dog fighting. He didn't mention the dogs in his entire apology, but he did apologize to the NFL Commissioner, his coach and teammates and young kids who look up to him. I know animals don't care about apologies, but there are a lot of people in this world (PETA, ASPCA) who would care that Vick did not apologize for the animals lives he destroyed. That might be to graphic for a news conference, but he said he was very sorry for his actions, but he never said what his actions were. I can understand why his communications director and lawyer would not want him to say anything that might affect a judge's decision, but seriously that was not a sufficient apology.

There was a CNN report,
about the case right before the plea and Vick admitted to hanging and drowning along with his three codefendants underperforming dogs in “testing sessions”. I will be very surprised if Vick plays for an NFL team again. The combination of what he did to the dogs and the time away from football that Brian’s blog talked about seems like too much trouble for a team to undertake. There is a plus side in that if a team does want Vick the negatives listed above mean Vick would be paid much less money. Brian pointed this out and it is a valid point that a team could get an amazing player at a very cheap price, but would the time Vick needs to spend training and managing his public image with it to that franchise those are the pros and cons an organization would have to weigh. Personally I don’t think it is a smart public relations move or football move pay for a player who hasn’t played in years with the baggage Vick has. I don’t know many people who don’t at least like dogs, Americans are crazy about them and Vick did kill them. People do have short memories about news stories, but if Vick were to play in the NFL again reporters would jump on the story again the only reason there isn’t much in the news now is because he was locked away in jail, not really newsworthy stuff. However some people have forgiven Vick and are offering him a chance to play football in a new football league UFL’s commissioner is welcoming Vick to play in the leagues first season this fall after his release from prison. This is according to a story on

Brian outlined some ways for Vick to leave this part of his life behind him and clean up his image. The recover, rebuild and return steps, but I don’t think he has the ability to do this and there are a lot of people who won’t accept him again.

Christi Pluta said...

Before I read this case study, I was familiar with the case and I had it set in my mind that Michael Vick was wrong. Plain and simple. He should make up for his wrongdoings and serve his punishment. Additionally, I believed that he shouldn't be allowed to come back into the NFL. However, after reading this case study, I took a little time to think about it. I have animals, two puppies who I love more than anything and to think about someone stealing them from my home, breaking their legs and giving them to other visciously trained dogs as practice... it made me angry. Do I think that this was just a game? Yes, I think Michael Vick just got caught up in the money and the excitement of it all. ( I CAN't believe he did not profit from it. No one would do something that illegal if they weren't gaining anything from it. I think he knew how to hide the financial aspect of it.) People make mistakes and as much as I dislike what he did to those dogs, it does not relate to football. While on spring break, I was watching the Oprah show dedicated to Rihanna and Chris Brown. Oprah was discussing Rihanna and Chris Brown with Tyra Banks and Tyra made a point. As much as we look at the individuals as role models, the are just as much everyday human beings as we are. They can make the same mistakes we can make. They are there for our entertainment, not to guide us as a country. I think it is different when you compare it to government, bill clinton, but for sports and entertainment it is difficult to try and mesh the two. I believe Michael Vick should work with peta and continue to try and help his image. But, I dont think this incident should prevent him from reentering football. They are two completely different events.

PSU PR Student said...

Brandon Bernola

This whole subject makes me sick. I love dogs so much and for these people to train them the wait they do and make them fight to the death is simply barbaric. And it’s not just like a few people are doing it. An article on says that there is an estimated 40,000 US citizens involved in professional dogfighting and the fight purses could be as high as $100,000. These people really need to reevaluate their lives.
As for Michael Vick, he should have known better than this. How much more did he want? He was the starting quarterback for a professional football team and still he has to murder and bet on dogs. This makes no sense to me. He probably wakes up every morning disgusted with himself over this. I know I would. He threw away what many people can only dream about.
I think he deserves whatever punishment he receives and I hope an NFL team doesn’t resign him. Also, I think he should have received a longer sentence than he did. I think it said that instead of a halfway house, they said he would have to serve the rest of his sentence confined to his mansion. I don’t know about you, but that just sounds like a reason to hang out all day at home.

Olivia said...

Before reading this blog, I was pretty unfamiliar with this situation. I was aware that it happened but I didn’t know much of the details about it. I feel that it was completely necessary for Vick to be punished the way he was for his actions. I personally do not have tolerance for people if find it necessary to resort to such cruel acts such as dog fighting. With Vick being in the public eye, it was definitely a wrong choice on his part knowing that if this got out it could ruin his reputation and career as a NFL football player. I was very surprised by the initial request by PETA in having Vick do a anti-dog fighting PSA. While I think this would be a good attempt at helping Vick renew his image to the public, it might also look like he is willing to do anything to mold a new image for himself. From financially supporting and involving himself in dog fighting to all of a sudden shooting anti-dog fighting PSAs? I just feel like people might not take him too seriously initially or believe him. I think, if it was done, for this PSA idea to have been successful PETA would have needed to give more time before putting Vick in the PSA. While the request for a brain scan took me off guard a bit as well, I think it was a good decision on PETA’s part. I think the most important thing Vick needs to work on now is bettering himself as an individual. Not as a celebrity, a football player, a role model, etc. He needs to make sure he is in a completely stable state before he can introduce a new, clean image to the public. For some celebrities, they fall off track a bit and go into rehab for something. Then within a month they push themselves right back into the public eye, and within another few months they are back in rehab again. Being in the media and dealing with the pressures of fame, it is important that a person is stable outside of the limelight. For Vick, I think its important that he slowly brings himself back into the public eye and puts more of a focus on his goals for football. I think that he has apologized and recognized what he has done. I think he needs to move past his mistakes and focus on what brought him to fame in the first place. I think he deserves a second chance, and I think focusing on his goals for football and being a role model for future athletes is most important. I think he should stay away from the dog fighting psas or anything of that sort. He should aim at getting his name back to Michael Vick the football player and not Michael Vick, the dog fighting supporter. There is even a new website created called that focuses on helping him better his image. The site includes pictures of Vick hugging a child and pleasant shots of him smiling. The site has video clips of Vick’s football highlights. The website invites discussion by anti and pro Vick fans. With Vick not already officially back in the public eye, websites and media attention like this should give him hope for a positive return.

PSU PR Student said...

Shin Yoshida

When I read this blog post, another case that came up in top of my head was the recent steroid issue with Alex Rodriguez. Compared with Michael Vick’s issue with dogfight, the use of steroid deals not only with morality, but it is an illegal drug that affects the athlete’s physical skills. Therefore, Rodriguez had harder chance to return back to his career as a baseball player than what Michael Vick had done.

During the press conference, Rodriguez repeatedly said he was young and stupid to commit the use of steroid. Many critics and media bashed him that being “stupid and young” isn’t an appropriate excuse to buy steroid when he was 22. Furthermore, Rodriguez completely ruined his interview with the media from his lack of preparation prior to the press conference. In contrast to him, Vick’s speech was fairly more professional in a sense of preparation. However, one thing that bothered me was when Vick completed his speech; he left the room without opening any interview session with the journalists. This might have caused the public to suspect him that his speech was manipulated by the PR practitioners and lacked honesty to the issue.

According United Football League commissioner, Michael Huyghue, the league would be open for Vick under three conditions, which are: 1. Vick would have to complete his sentence on charges of running an illegal dog-fighting operation. 2. He'd have to be released by the Falcons, who still own his contractual rights. 3. The UFL would have to get positive feedback from the fans about Vick's inclusion in the league.
Vick will complete his court by July, so there is a great chance that he will resume his football career. It now leaves up to him and his PR practitioners to regain the reputations. (

Michael said...

I hate to say it, but I get the feeling that a lot of this will have blown over by the time he is looking to get reinstated. Whether or not he can actually *play* football may be the big issue, as a few of you have stated. Putting aside players like Brett Favre, not many last into their late 30s or early 40s (or at least, not at that skill level).

Coming out of a prison sentence at age 30+ (unless he somehow make it into next fall's lineup) with 2+ years off the field, I don't see Vick getting hired. Or better yet, I should specify that statement. I don't see Michael Vick getting ANY substantial play time if he does get hired. Maybe add a string for every year he was in prison.

Will the dog fighting troubles resurface if he does get hired? Definately. I do think that his biggest issue will be to try to convince a team that he deserves a second chance or that he deserves to become a star player once again. A lot of fans may be forgiving so long as he is performing. You will never please everyone, and Vick will need to decide who it is he wants to please.

One story that I found particularly interesting was an article on According to the article, Vick is a popular pick on the prison football teams. In some games, he's even been QBing for both teams. I suppose if he is playing enough with the other inmates he may be getting practice and keeping the arm sharp. That said, I doubt he's getting the same kind of physical training in prison as he would be getting as a professional football player. According to a book I read last year for English 202 (Beer and Circus), some *student* athletes are getting as much as 40 hours a week (training seems to be like a job in itself). It would be some time before Vick was reconditioned and ready to play again, in my opinion.

The article also mentioned that the Atlanta Falcons' owner had been keeping in touch with Vick through letters. The immediate reaction to this is: Does Vick still have a spot on the Falcons when he gets out, or is Arthur Blank truly just concerned with Vick's wellbeing and recovery as a human being?

PSU PR Student said...

Melanie Loomis

I am not defending Michael Vick but culturally I can see how dog fighting continues in America today. I own a dog and the shear thought that a person, let alone a public role model, can participate in this is disturbing but the real issue is the social structure behind this activity.
Michael Vick’s background is necessary in evaluating his actions as a person and not a public figure. I grew up in a small town and saw what poverty can do to a family structure, thus creating detrimental problems in the future, such as crime and drug abuse. In Vick’s case, Newport News created a chaotic foundation in his childhood and can be sourced for his later problems as an adult. If one chooses to look past his background or think of it as merely an excuse, it defeats year’s worth of psychology and shakes the thought that our surroundings have nothing to do with our thought pattern and actions.
What brings someone to murder an innocent dog is beyond me but the outcome is horrific. I’m not sure if Brian plans to show the pictures of what happens to these dogs, but looking them up on Google almost makes me sick. As with passed away soldiers, the more people see these images- the more actions will take place to crack down and prevent horrific tragedies. Attached is a link to a hard to deal w/ picture:
Vick and every football player should be regularly psychologically tested.

Katherine said...

Katherine Matz

It is surprising to me that PETA would use Michael Vick in a public service announcement. Vick has a sour reputation and served jail time for cruelty to animals. To me, he does not seem like a logical candidate to endorse the humane treatment of animals. Perhaps he has changed his ways and learned from his actions, but everyone in society still may not be able to accept his apologies.

I think that if Vick is reinstated to the NFL, his fate will be determined by the status of each individual team. There are two factors that Vick has going against him. One is that he was involved with dog fighting, and the other is he has been out of the league for two years. Teams have to be careful to pick up Vick as a player because his reputation could hurt their image. Since Vick has been out of the game so long, he will have to work hard to prove himself. If he is reinstated immediately, I foresee a team that has struggled to win in the NFL picking him up, hoping his natural ability is still intact.

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I understood that Michael Vick participated in dog fighting, and I understood that this involved animal abuse, but I was shocked to read of the extent of Michael Vick's involvement. While dog fighting is sick and terrible, I find Vick's participation just unfathomable. To have obviously spent so much time, money and effort on such a brutal activity simply flabbergasts me. How could he have entered on of his "dog fighting buildings" without realizing that what he was doing was so, so wrong?

Because of this, I completely agree with PETA's brain scan request. The public service announcement would have been so beneficial to Vick's image, but why would PETA want to be associated in any way with someone who just might be unstable? And why should he reenter the NFL when something seriously might be unbalanced?

Unfortunately, thought Vick received jail time, I do not believe that other dog fighters will be deterred from the "sport" (sport? that makes me ill to write). He was a public figure, and that status led to being caught. I think the regular people that are profiting from these activities will not feel like they will be found out. So sad.

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Ray Lewis was forgiven after being involved in a homicide, but I feel that Michael Vick won't get that same forgiveness. People responded strongly to the dog fighting allegations. It was a much more emotionally charged discovery than hearing about a murder. You hear about murders every day on the news. But dog fighting is a much more rare occurrence, and some people are more upset about animal cruelty than they would be about a homicide.

That being said, I am baffled as to why PETA would want Vick anywhere near their PSAs. On one hand, it is admirable on PETA's part for allowing him to show he has changed (pending brain scan). However, he will still always be associated with dog fighting. I don't think there is really a way to restore your image after such a hit. And a PSA isn't going to turn it around for Vick. He needs to make more of an effort to show that he truly is sorry and has changed his ways.

Any team (if any) that decides to give Vick a second chance will also have its image tarnished by his reputation.

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Although I am an avid fan of competition, this Vick situation of dog fighting takes it to a new extent. I was vaguely familiar with his case since it was swarming through every media outlet for weeks on end. For those several weeks of his trial and conviction, it felt like all that was on Sports Center was the coverage of his "thug" and "ruthless" nature.

And although I am disappointed as a fan, especially with his affect on the children as a role model, I still need to understand that he is still a human being and thus, should be allowed to make mistakes. The important thing is that he realizes that they were "mistakes" and that he should learn from them. Hopefully, 23 months in the cell will be ample enough amount of time to do so...

As for his re-etrance to the league, he is still a phenomenal athlete and a prime-time entertainment factor with his explosive speed and agility as a quarterback. In my opinion, the league should allow him as a well-attributed athlete to compete, for the fans. Plus, if Ray Lewis, Kobe Bryant and Charles Barkley can make the comeback, I'm sure Vick can too...

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