Twice this morning on ESPN radio, I heard Erik Kuselias and Mark Schlereth, today’s vacation replacements for Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, try to foment anger against Michael Vick for receiving this year’s Ed Block Courage Award from the Philadelphia Eagles, on a unanimous vote by his teammates I understand. Kuselias and Schlereth couldn’t understand how someone who had murdered dogs or made them fight could be given an award for courage. They averred that it sullied the awards of the other recipients, as each NFL team votes for a winner every year. They were livid that about one third of the listeners had emailed in supported Vick.
Instead of seeing the baiting of Vick by these disk jockeys for what it was, an attempt to boost website chatroom traffic and thereby increase ad revenues, Yahoo! decided to follow ESPN into the gutter. By early this afternoon EST, the lead story on Yahoo!’s home page was an Op/Ed by someone named Chris Chase who said that the Eagles sullied the award by giving to someone who served time for an act of extreme cowardice.
The crimes that Vick committed makes for an interesting discussion, because it’s an example of a cultural more becoming an enforced law. As came out in the coverage of Vick’s trial, there has been a long-standing tradition of fighting dogs in certain southern enclaves. We know that Vietnamese eat dogs, which proved to be a problem throughout the 70’s in San Francisco. I remember the local media almost weekly wrote about dogs getting free of leashes in Golden Gate Park and never returning. I’m condoning neither the fighting nor the eating of dog; in fact I find both disgusting. I’m just pointing out that there are cultural differences and in this one case, our legal system does not accommodate the differences.
But whatever the nature of the crime, how can anyone deny that it takes courage for someone who has been a pampered and coddled star since at least the age of 12 to go through two years of hard jail time. Jails are not very nice places, not even limited security jails. Those “country club” prisons of movie mythology—they don’t really exist.
In short, Erik, Mark, Chris and any other pious busybody who still has a grudge against Vick for his brutal treatment of dogs:
He did the crime AND he did the time.
In this country, that means that he’s free to go on with his life. Instead of tacking cheap shots about giving an award for courage to a reformed criminal who has put his life back together, why don’t you do your job and talk about sports?