In the wake of overwhelming reader response to my July 18 column on the Michael Vick indictment, I have decided to share some of the hundreds of e-mails that have arrived in my "Ask Vic" mailbag within the last 24 hours:
Thank you, Vic, for your article on Michael Vick, "It's a sad day for Vick, Falcons, and the NFL." I agree with your commentary how Michael Vick's behavior is affecting the NFL. The man has money, talent, and fame, and all he sees fit to do with those gifts is indulge in something illegal and reprehensible. Football is the United State's favorite pastime, and it saddens me that Mr. Vick chose to use his fame from this sport into funding cruelty towards "man's best friend." He should be ashamed of himself and ashamed of what his actions have done to his team, his teammates, and his fans.
--Pat C., Norfolk, VA
How is this a sad day for Michael Vick? It is only a sad day when an individual deserves sympathy or doesn't deserve the cruel hand they have been dealt. This is a sad day for the poor animals Vick maliciously killed with his own hands. Anyone who has followed this story can plainly see Vick is deeply involved in dog fighting. He is getting what he deserves, and I hope he is handed a lengthy suspension by the NFL and jail time by the authorities. Given what he has done, there are no more "sad" days for Vick, only justly deserved days of shame, degradation, and hopefully, incarceration. --Mike J.
Good observations on the Vick situation. It's hard for me to keep a cool head when a star of the NFL can be so sick and twisted to harm innocent animals. This man needs deep therapy, but I doubt he'll ever get it. Yes, yes, an indictment doesn't prove guilt. But the fact that such an indictment was made speaks volumes. I'm sure, with all his money, Vick will escape with some lesser charge. But this man is depraved.
I am tired of hearing journalist like yourself already jumping on the bandwagon to crucify Mike. Let's not act like Mike or his crew has murdered another human here. He is no Pacman Jones, he is no Ray Lewis. I highly doubt that Vick is an integral part of this dog fighting ring. And I hope you realize that you are contributing to this media frenzy that you refer to in your article. What is your solution to all of this? Suspend Vick before the case even goes to trial? I guess being innocent until proven guilty is only for certain Americans. My solution? Suspend Goodell. He is turning into a power hungry tyrant that needs to be taken down a peg. Sports suspensions should be based purely on sports, not on what one does with his own time. If Vick is truly guilty, let him pay his fines and serve his time in prison, not on the sideline.
Thank you for your article on Michael Vick because you did not sugar coat it. These allegations are very serious and the NFL needs to know that there are millions and millions of people who are outraged by this situation. The NFL needs to immediately suspend him.
--Alicia M., Chicago
Why were you so astoundingly soft on Vick? You did not even use a word so simple and clear and correct as "disgusting." Inexplicably disappointing and cowardly on your part. You did not even address the overall issue.
This isn't a sad day. This is a good day actually because this indictment will hopefully be the beginning of the end for this disgusting person who would fight innocent dogs to the death, then kill the loser for being weaker. This is cruel to the ultimate and he shouldn't be in anyway connected with the league. It's called being a thug, plain and simple. You would never catch Emmitt Smith in anything like this. Vick is classless.
I, too, am saddened by this sub-human display of the oh-so-common NFL "thuggery" in action. The commissioner needs to stop this NOW. Suspend this punk and tell everyone this is simply unacceptable behavior, and that Vick will never play in the NFL again. It is so sickening I can't see how he can do anything else. If (Goodell's) going to get the thugs out of the NFL, this is the time, and this is the case. Make a stand.
--Mike, San Antonio, TX
The NFL should suspend him now, when authorities have confirmed confiscation of dog fighting gear, hurt pit bulls, dead dog remains, etc., from his property. Yes, he does have his day in court, but what exactly is the NFL hoping for? What way out do they see for Vick? It's his property, with all the evidence there! This is a very sad period for the image of NFL.
--Chris, Orlando, FL
Vick, much like Pacman, has only been found guilty in the court of public opinion, or better yet, the court of media opinion. All the football fans I know think these new hard-line, disciplinary measures related to player conduct are the equivalent of the Salem witch trials. Everyone is entitled to earn a livelihood and taking away that right based on unsubstantiated claims seems premature. I think the mandatory rookie conduct workshops are far more effective means of being proactive toward rectifying this self-imposed image problem the NFL seems to have bought into. I think these steps severely undermine the criminal justice process in this country.
I cannot even put into words how absolutely incensed I am over this. I know I am not alone. I hope everyone who has any respect for animals will write to you, the NFL, the state of Virginia, whoever will listen, in hopes of letting everyone know how America feels.
Thanks for writing the Michael Vick column. I have been an avid Bills and NFL fan for the vast majority of my almost 51 years of existence. I have also been an avid dog fan for all of those same years. I currently have four dogs who share my house with me. They all get a lot of love and the best treatment that my wife and I could give them. I can't imagine anyone being cruel to an animal that looks to people for approval and love the way a dog does, let alone kill them in the inhumane ways I have read.
--Kevin V., Tampa, FL
I respond as both a marketing professional and a dog owner. In my opinion the NFL/Falcon brand will suffer as long as they are associated with Michael Vick. There is a perception about Michael Vick, whether or not the trial has yet occurred. What type of person soaks down a 35-pound dog and then electrocutes it? It has been proven that animal abuse is often linked with people abuse. I'm sickened by the allegations and I hope Michael Vick gets what he deserves!
How can NFL justify Vick's lying about his dog fighting activities? He should be suspended for this alone. His cruelty sets horrible example to youngsters who idolized him. Unforgivable.
--Mrs. T., Leesburg FL
It is disturbing that a human being could shrug accountability for such actions and at minimum share a relationship with friends and family that condone what you were a part of even in the miniscule amount. Bottom line is I would NEVER, no matter what, see Vick or the NFL the same and would hope this is a lifetime ban for Vick. That would earn some respect back for the NFL and the Falcons. I am somewhat ashamed that the Falcons would hire and pay a person of character as Michael Vick.