The Michael Vick Story

I preface with this: I despise dogfighting and animal cruelty. In effect it is two men using animals as a proxy to fight for them because they don’t have the balls to fight themselves. That is both cowardly and repugnant. That said, I also think that Michael Vick is being judged unfairly by the NFL and I will tell you why.

In a new development in the Michael Vick saga, the NFL commissioner has ordered the Michael Vick to stay away from training camp until the league conducts an investigation as to whether or not the Falcon’s quarterback violated any of the league’s policies. The commissioner’s statement to Vick is as follows:

“While it is for the criminal justice system to determine your guilt or innocence, it is my responsibility as commissioner of the National Football League to determine whether your conduct, even if not criminal, nonetheless violated league policies, including the Personal Conduct Policy,” Goodell said in a letter to the quarterback.

The idea here is that it is up for the a jury of Vick’s peers to determine whether or not he is guilty of a crime but the commissioner is going to refer to the government’s allegations against him to determine whether or not Vick is guilty of violating league policy. My problem with this is that, absent a confession or a conviction, an allegation is just that.

For those of you who may think I’m knee-jerk siding with a criminal because he happens to be an athlete, I will say that you don’t know if he happens to be guilty at all. There have been seemingly stronger cases than this one in this country that have been overturned 20 years into a prison sentence on the strength DNA tests that exonerated seemingly guilty men. Unless Michael Vick has been fucking his dogs this is not going to end up being one of those cases so that’s where the analogy breaks down but you get the point, allegations have been made. Guilt or innocence have yet to be determined.

Back to the point: the commissioner will presume to make a determination on whether or not Michael Vick may have violated any league policies by referring to the strength of the case against Vick (the commissioner’s own words). This action potentially sabatoges Vick in at least two ways. First, presuming some or all of the allegations against him may be false, it may create a situation where Vick now would feel compelled to respond to these allegations before the trial begins in order to make his case before the NFL.

As people who are familiar with trial procedure will tell you, it’s not always in the best interests for a defendant to speak about his case before the trial, in fact it usually isn’t. The reason is that a prosecutor can and will use anything you say in order to try and pin you down and trip you up and make you look bad. This can be detrimental whether or not you are in fact guilty of the crime in question. In short, the criminal case against him demands silence, the NFL presumes to base its determination on the government’s version of events in which case it would behoove Michael Vick to speak out.

Secondly, suppose that before the trial the league determines that Vick is indeed guilty of violating the league’s policies. Does not a determination such as this possibly impede justice? Will potential jurors not notice this and wonder just what NFL policies Michael Vick has violated? The policies against being a criminal? Against dogfighting? So for the sake of the trial he should be silent before the commissioner but for the sake of the trial he should make his case to the NFL? What kind spot is that for a defendant to be placed in?

Whether or not this man participated in illegal dogfighting is a finding of fact and that is for a jury to decide. If the NFL commissioner is in possession of some mystical fact finding powers that can arrive at the Truth by referring to only one side of the story, he should reserve these magical acrobatics until after the trial. The downside for the NFL is that a possibly guilty man plays football for a few games. Go the commissioner’s route and the downside is that a possibly innocent man may be found guilty due to the prejudicial actions taken by the NFL commissioner and his swami hat. The question is not whether or not the NFL commission has the right to make a determination at this time, it is whether or not he should.  I throw the flag for illegal procedure.

8 Responses to “The Michael Vick Story”

  1. Phelps says:

    I think they should toss him out. First of all, we are dealing with different burdens of proof. Criminal cases deal with “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a very high burden. Our system has no problem with concurrent civil cases that are tried under the “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning more likely than not. Literally, a 51% likelihood that he did it.

    The NFL, on the other hand, is dealing with an even lower burden of proof. I would call the NFL burden the “upset stomach” burden. If the worrying about whether or not he is guilty is enough to give the commissioner an upset stomach, then he is guilty enough to suspend. He is an entertainer. Dogfighting (for profit) would be moonlighting from entertaining in the NFL. He’s manged to piss off people who:

    Don’t like animal cruelty
    Don’t like gambling
    Don’t like wasted electricity

    I think he’s managed to pull of the perfect NFL crime. OJ and Michael Irvin didn’t even manage that. At least with OJ and Irvin they had the coked up wife-murderers behind them.

  2. mexigogue says:

    If the only entertainers we allowed were the ones who had never faced allegations, we’d be watching Donny and Marie Osman on all channels on all times. Kind of like when John Malkovitch went thru the John Malkovitch portal.

  3. Phelps says:

    I never argued that. I’m saying that we want entertainers who have problems we can identify with. No one can identify with the desire to get rich so you can spend millions breeding dogs to torture and gamble on. We can think of better uses for that money.

    Getting out of rehab and then getting picked up 11 days later for chasing another car in your SUV, then blowing a .12 and having some coke in your pocket, we can identify with that. You can’t pick when someone is going to cut you off in traffic and piss you off. Sometimes it happens while you are drunk and holding and you have to do something about it.

    Here’s the difference:

    Making Lethal Weapon then getting drunk and calling a cop “sugartits”: Approved
    Making Beat It and then getting creepy plastic surgery so you can molest adolescent boys: Not Approved
    Making Barretta and then shooting your wife in teh face: Approved
    Playing in the NFL so you can start a dogfighting criminal enterprise: Not Approved

  4. mexigogue says:

    I have so much to learn.

  5. Innocent until proven guilty only covers government action not public opinion. If public opinion turns like it has then Vick is a liability to the league and the Falcons as businesses and just like any other liability they gotta get rid of him….

  6. mexigogue says:

    Yes of course, I understand there is a different burden of proof. But my point was what is the harm done if the NFL defers judgment until the criminal case is concluded? Personally I don’t watch football because I want to see model citizens. I want to see football. I don’t view professional athletes as role models/babysitters. But maybe I’m crazy. Why don’t they just hire Mr. Rogers as the quarterback?

  7. The harm will e PETA wackos and protesters outside the NFL offices and Falcons games, that equals bad press whjich equals less $$$$…

  8. R says:

    Yeah, I hate PETA. And the Atlanta Falcons suck anyway. Plus Mr. Rogers is dead.

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