An open letter to the men and women of the sports reporting community,
I am so disheartened and disappointed by your collective, lopsided praise of Michael Vick due to his recent spectacular on-field performance.
Jemele Hill stated on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" that if Josh Hamilton could win one of baseball's MVP awards after recovering from alcohol and drug abuse, why couldn't Vick win the award in the NFL? Well, for one thing, Hamilton has neither tortured dozens of dogs nor murdered defenseless animals.
I do not know what is in Michael Vick's head or heart. But in a recent ESPN interview, and elsewhere, he stated that while he was committing these heinous acts of cruelty, it never occurred to him that he was doing anything wrong.
What a chilling, telling statement.
In Vick's case, I believe his second chance should certainly allow him to be free and to love and raise his family. I think he should make speeches about the error of his ways and help animal groups. I understand that he is doing some of these things and I applaud that. He's also admitted to being haunted by his dogfighting days. That growth is welcome and necessary, but comes too late for me and those dogs.
I support his right to earn a living. But, while I can't fault him for taking great advantage of the opportunities afforded him by playing in the NFL, I feel he does not deserve that lofty a place in our society and culture. However repentant he may be, he committed acts whose vileness will resonate down the years. When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.
Shame on the NFL for not banning him permanently.
How can we justify this saga to our children?
The fighting is bad enough. But when the dogs aren't up to their standards of violence, they'll beat the dogs against walls until they're dead, hang, electrocute or drown them.
And if the schedule is too busy for torture that day, they'll just shoot them dead as the poor dogs gaze desperately into their eyes for just one moment of love or kindness. But love is one thing those dogs are forever and viciously denied.
When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.
In addition to forcing the dogs to fight, Vick and his cohorts bred the dogs. A butcher is often called in to rip out the teeth and nails of these innocent canines, making it easier to chain them to what is known in fighting circles as a rape stand to be forcibly mated -- cultivating only fear, rage and hate in these blameless creatures. All of that to create more fighting dogs whose lives will just repeat a cycle of unspeakable suffering.
Well kids, although doing those things is wrong, two years after you admit to doing them the NFL will let you have a job that may lead to an MVP award and many millions of dollars in a new contract.
Parents are already dealing with a society seemingly gone mad. We have many troubled kids in our country. Some of them act out by hurting animals, themselves and others in various ways. How do we square our interest in saving children when they can clearly see this kind of evil behavior, for some, is only a big bump on the road to fame, fortune and glory?
Additional Michael Vick content
I am a giant sports fan. However, the cynic in me thinks maybe if Vick were a third-string lineman, the NFL would have set an example and banned him for life. Maybe many of the other significant charges Vick was facing wouldn't have gone away if he didn't have the prestige of being an NFL quarterback who can afford high-priced lawyers to wrangle pleas and deals.
For the NFL to be that forgiving of evil, vicious behavior is a terribly inappropriate act of forgiveness and has brought a sick, sad, dirty feeling to many of us fans who have loved the game for so long.
And to you reporters, whom I enjoy and respect, the sentiments in this letter are suspiciously absent in your hundreds of hours of Vick coverage.
Recently, on another edition of "The Sports Reporters," Mike Lupica said that this Vick issue spoke to the shallowness of the pro sports world.
Wow! Three seconds versus hundreds of "Vick's so great!" hours. Way to go! Just because the NFL lost its spine and common sense on this matter doesn't mean you reporters have to get in line and go along.
Musician and huge sports fan, hurt and demoralized
Nils Lofgren is a virtuoso rock guitarist who has toured with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ringo Starr, Neil Young and others. He has also released more than 40 solo albums.