Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Monday, February 14, 2011

Michael Vick Media Persecution Continues: Will the Haters Ever Let Him Be?

After winning Comeback Player of the Year and being issued an honorary key to the city of Dallas, Michael Vick is being publicly bashed for his past and not what he’s doing in the present.

For instance, Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle doesn’t believe Vick has been punished enough for his role in a gambling ring he funded where he tortured dogs.  Buehrle issued the following in a recent interview with "He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it's bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt."

Buehrle continued, "Everything you've done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys."
I was viewing the Joy Behar Show on HLN two nights ago. She expressed extreme dislike for Vick by stating, “I’ll never forgive him.”

Then there’s ESPN’s Skip Bayless. On ESPN’s First Take, Bayless suggested Vick doesn’t deserve a key to the city of Dallas because he has no ties there.

Bayless, like Buehrle, is an avid dog lover. He was very critical of the notion of Vick even owning a dog again. Bayless suggested Vick “should not be allowed to own a dog” in the foreseeable future.

What is a man to do who has paid his debt to society? Many convicted of SEC violations are prohibited from ever working in the securities industry again. This is an analogous situation.

I wonder how Buehrle, Behar and Bayless feel about Ben Roethlisberger being suspended by the NFL as a result of the sexual assault allegations levied against him.

Where is the outcry over Roethlisberger’s despicable behavior?

Roethlisberger is Mr. Untouchable. The media have avoided his story like the plague, yet Vick is still being bashed by the media for a societal debt that has been paid in full.

I’ve stated consistently that Vick made poor choices in the past. He nearly flushed his life down the tubes by engaging in unacceptable behavior.

But guess what, folks.

Vick served his time and he is trying to move on with his life.

Dogfighting has long been a part of African-American culture in the South. It did not become a real issue until a high-profile African-American got caught up in fighting dogs, torturing them and funding a gambling ring.

How is this any different than Brett Favre taking a gun and going out to kill deer?

Favre’s actions would not be characterized as killing deer because he’s engaging in what is considered a sport. Taking a loaded pistol and killing deer is part of being an American and exercising one's rights to bear arms.

Fighting dogs has long been a tradition throughout the South, but it is considered against the law because many African-Americans engage in it.

Last time I checked, both dogs and deer are animals. I believe torturing and killing dogs is not right and I feel the same way about shooting defenseless deer.

If fighting dogs is illegal, why isn’t killing deer?

In sports, the same level type of hypocrisy exists. In the NHL, violence is depicted as part of the game. ESPN glorifies the violent behavior because they consider it entertainment.

When NFL players Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson got into a fight, it was blown totally out of proportion. The white mainstream media feasted on the notion of suspending Finnegan and Johnson for fighting.

ESPN didn’t glorify Finnegan’s or Johnson’s actions: They called on Adam Schefter to see how the NFL would discipline them.

How can it be explained that violence in hockey is embraced while the same infrequent behavior in the NFL was such a big deal?

Could it have something to do with the NHL being 90 percent white, yet the NFL is 67 percent African-American?

I’ve long stated I have no problem with covering athletes critically, so long as the coverage is fairly administered. If the media can feast on Vick for a debt he’s paid, that same media should bash Roethlisberger for a debt he likely incurred but never paid.

Furthermore, historically the criminal justice system has been proven to be more criminal than it has been, just regarding rationing out equitable justice for African-Americans. That being said, is it out of the realm of possibility for someone like Roethlisberger to have received a pass from the media and the judicial system?

If the President of the United States like Richard Nixon can lie about Watergate, then it is possible for a NFL quarterback like Roethlisberger to get a pass on a sexual assault case?

Meanwhile, Vick is still being persecuted by the media unfairly and unnecessarily, while the likes of ESPN feature a commercial of Roethlisberger rescuing people from a building in Bristol.

Give me a break.

Sad to say but the Vick bashing will continue. The lily-white media will not cease their onslaught because 94, 88, 89 percent of the sports editors, columnists and reporters are white.

There is a way to begin to remedy the problem: Vick himself needs to address the issue—along with those journalists, particularly African-Americans, with a spine—to call for the public bashing to stop.

All change involves a level of risk. Too many athletes and journalists in the past have sacrificed their livelihoods for change. If Vick can serve nearly two years in prison and emerge a changed man, that demonstrates he has the resolve to speak out.

If African-American journalists understand they stand on the shoulders of the African-American athlete from the past, they should use those platforms for more than earning a living.

I think Buehrle, Behar and Bayless are out of line, considering the work Vick is doing in the community. He is speaking at schools about the bad choices he’s made.  Vick is speaking out against dog-fighting on a weekly basis and he has kept his nose clean.  More importantly, he’s consistently stated he’s a changed man and his actions thus far support his assertion.

The latter demonstrates Vick did more than serve his time: He emerged from prison with a plan to use his life as an example of how to triumph and take advantage of second chances.

What else does Vick have to do?

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