William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Monday, 17, August, 2009

Good Doggie

Filed under: Overheard,People who need pianos dropped on them,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 14:34

Via Marko and Cranky, I learn that Michael “Ookie” Vick has ressurected his professional football career.  Well, now.

He has paid his debt to society.  He did serve his time.  He can throw a football, and may be an asset to the team.  I do not know.  I do, however, question his character.  Both the fundamental lack of empathy involved in running a kennel of fighting dogs, and betting on it.  Should people in professional sports be involved in betting?

In one sense, who better to know the strengths and weaknesses of one team over another?  They literally have (pig)skin in the game.  On the other hand, they have an unprecidented chance to make money using those skills for evil.  This is not fair to the run-of-the-mill bettor.  On the third hand the only thing fair to the run of the mill bettor would be to go and read a good book instead of making book.

Finally, Michael Vick was willing to take dogs and make them suffer and die for his own profit.  Though he has “paid his debt to society”, I’m not sure that that poor character ever goes away completely.  I would prefer not to speak or associate with Mr. Vick.  Perhaps providing him with a livelihood is a good business decision for the Eagles.  Outside of business, a good dose of  ostracism is in order.


  1. Concur. I choose with whom I associate…

    Comment by Old NFO — Monday, 17, August, 2009 @ 18:39 | Reply

  2. I wonder how good of a business decision this hire really is for the Eagles? Were I an Eagles fan, this would definitely change my image of the team and my willingness to support the team by attending games (rather than watching at home) and buying merchandise. Having paid a debt to society by serving a prison sentence does not mean there has been any, let alone an essential, change in someone’s character.

    Comment by pelican — Monday, 17, August, 2009 @ 19:20 | Reply

    • Pelican, true, and that bothers me. He’s fundamentally a scumbag. And the business of a football team is playing football. Now, they make money from merchandising and in other ways. Does his talent make up for the poor will and poor judgement? Look at Pete Rose. Some say his talent makes up for his actions. The mystery writer Anne Perry killed a woman for heaven’s sake. I don’t say “one strike and you’re out”, but I’m not sure all is forgiven and forgotten with some actions.

      Comment by williamthecoroner — Monday, 17, August, 2009 @ 20:25

  3. As an Eagles fan, I have a lot of mixed feelings about Vick joining the team.
    I am willing to tolerate his presence for the time being, and hope that Andy Reid (Head Coach) correctly decided that Vick truly regrets his actions, and the decisions that led him into taking those actions.
    However, how he behaves OFF the field is going to do far more to determine how the Philadelphia fans feel about him than anything he does on the field.

    Comment by AJD — Monday, 17, August, 2009 @ 21:22 | Reply

  4. I think a good example of a sports figure with questionable (read: poor) character would be O.J. Simpson. Despite all of the forensic/law issues in the initial legal case dealing with his wife’s murder, his off-field character was evident from the beginning – his initial reaction was to run from the police and lead them on a “wild” highway chase. Fast forward a decade or so. Simpson is once again in the news for less than amicable behavior, not just once but two or three times (though they may have been related, I don’t care for E! or Inside Edition) – Las Vegas and Florida come to mind.

    Some may say that his karma caught up with him. I leave that point alone. My point here is that the results of his poor character were finally unavoidable. My conclusion: his poor actions were due to poor character due to (possibly only in-part) an overindulgent life as a direct result of his sports career.

    Comment by Future D.O. — Monday, 17, August, 2009 @ 22:07 | Reply

  5. Unfortunately, many people are fundamentally scumbags 😉

    I’m not sure what you mean by “makes up for” his actions, a la Pete Rose, who received a lifetime ban?

    I think the business of the the Philadelphia Eagles, like any professional sports team, is to make money for their owners/shareholders, which teams usually do by trying to having teams that win as many games as possible. However, since you can’t win every year, sports teams really make their money by cultivating and maintaining fan brand loyalty that will persist across the many “building” and “rebuilding” and “just generally sucking right now” years.

    As an example … Barry Bonds was using steroids illegally while playing for the SF Giants. He’s a scumbag. But, most SF Bay Area fans don’t get all that worked up about illegal drug use. I don’t think the Giants lost either fans or money over Bonds.

    But, the 49ers or Raiders would *never* have signed Vick … in the pet-crazed, animal-rights California, they would lose way too many fans and thus way too much money. People would be tearing up their season tickets in droves, scraping bumper stickers off cars- including cars they did not own- protesting with PETA outside the stadium, filing dodgy lawsuits alleging emotional distress, etc.

    So, I’m curious to see how many Eagles fans freak out and “resign” from Eagles fandom, at least temporarily.

    I do see a qualitative difference between the scumminess associated with professional athletes gambling (in or out of their sport), drugging (steroids or recreational), or making poor sexual choices (Kobe Bryant), and the scumminess associated with torturing dogs. I don’t gamble. I don’t approve of steroid use. I do not approve of marital infidelity, particularly with unstable teenagers. I would not be either Barry or Kobe’s friend, nor would I date either of them. But, I still totally enjoy watching Kobe play and I’ve spent my money on tickets, beer, pretzels, etc. I’d buy a kid a Lakers jersey, although probably not a #24. I’ve watched Bonds play and enjoyed his performance, even knowing that it was fake. I don’t have a problem with Pete Rose getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, although I don’t think it will happen.

    But, I wouldn’t go to an Eagles game. I wouldn’t go to a home game of a local team if they were playing the Eagles. I wouldn’t buy an Eagles jersey. While Vick is on the team, I would not spend a single dollar that could go to the Eagles. If I’d been a passionate Eagles fan for years, I’d feel betrayed, and I’d write nasty letters.

    I think Vick’s scumminess is qualitatively different, rising above the general narcissistic-asshole-thoughtless type of scumminess that I think characterizes Pete, Kobe, and Barry (as well as the thousands of other professional athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians whose work I can enjoy and appreciate, despite knowing they’re probably/definitely assholes), into a more clinically sociopathic scumminess. Many, many people gamble, do drugs, and make incredibly stupid and selfish sexual choices … torturing dogs is a whole ‘nother level.

    And I think it’s unwise of the Eagles to take on a personal liability like that, given the nature of their business. But, what do I know, I don’t own a professional sports team …

    As far as Anne Perry, I don’t know enough about her case (although I thought the movie was beautifully filmed) to have a firm opinion on her level of scumminess and/or sociopathy … but I suspect she is also someone with whom I would not, as Old NFO says, “choose to associate.” I’ve never read her books. However, I suspect that in her case, a “murderer who writes murder mysteries” would unfortunately cultivate fans, rather than put them off.

    I do think that teenagers do have a diminished capacity for moral decision-making and true empathy, when compared to adults, given hormonal insanity and incompletely developed frontal lobes. I don’t remember how young Anne Perry was when she killed- 14, 15? And at that time, in a lesbian love affair with some weird psychotic thinking going on and also the weirdness associated with Tb treatments of the time? She may have been a very different person by 25, if she worked at it. Or not. I don’t know enough to have an opinion.

    Comment by pelican — Monday, 17, August, 2009 @ 22:22 | Reply

  6. Hmmm, so Kobi’s abuse of a vulnerable teenager is simply narcissistic thougtlessness, and that probably means that a death caused while drunk qualifies as the same, but Vick’s abuse of animals is at a whole different level? Killing and abusing humans, that’s forgivable, but doing it to animals is somehow worse?

    I’m sorry, but I hold humans to be significantly higher on the scale than animals. (BTW, I also own one of those vicious Pitbulls!).

    All of them are scum, but if we then deny them the right to earn an occupation at the only thing that they have any reasonable training for, aren’t we then dooming ourselves to pay their way for the rest of their life?

    At least Vick did his time, he appears to be contrite, and he is making all the right sounds about it. Contrast that with Barry Bonds, who continues to deny he did anything wrong, or to the wide receiver who simply paid off his victims family!

    I don’t like what Vick did, but he has paid an enormous price. Get over the fact that he abused mans best friend. It happens every day, and I’ll bet within no more than a mile of anyone’s house.

    Would he be my choice for an afternoon at the park? Nope, but then neither would anyone else in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL. Quit making heroes out of freakishly gifted physical specimens!

    Pick some real people as good friends and good examples, and get on with life!!!

    Comment by Bill Waites — Wednesday, 19, August, 2009 @ 17:48 | Reply

    • I do not make heroes out of freakishly gifted physical specimens.

      Now, as to Kobe Bryant, the “vulnerable teenager” you reference was 19 at the time. A full adult. What Mr. Bryant did shows incontinence, and disrespect for his wife, and amazingly poor judgement. Ms. Faber does have a history of mental problems, see HERE. It is most unwise to have sexual relations with people who are not your spouse, and even more unwise to have sex on first meeting with people who aren’t your spouse.

      If you ask me to rank order them, wanton cruelty towards animals (children and the elderly) who cannot complain or have problems defending themselves is worse than killing, even stupid killing by accident and driving drunk (though it is right up there) and then stupid adultery is least worst. I can’t say best.

      Comment by williamthecoroner — Wednesday, 19, August, 2009 @ 18:02

  7. I suspect that Andy Reid is very invested in the possibility of redemption, particularly since both his sons have repeatedly been in trouble with the law [drugs, theft, smuggling, car accidents…I may have missed a few in there…]

    Comment by rethoryke — Thursday, 20, August, 2009 @ 14:51 | Reply

  8. I spoke of society as a whole when it came to making heroes, not anyone specifically, and I apologize for not making that clear.

    The “full adult” was hardly that. 19 is a teenager, and mental problems INCREASE vulnerabilty by any definition. 19 year olds are hardly full adults, our society doesn’t recognize them as such, lest they would be allowed to buy alcohol, among other things.

    Cruelty towards children and the defenseless elderly certainly ranks highest to me, but animals fall below the adultery level. Isn’t adultery an incredible cruelty towards his children? Driving drunk is not accidental killing though it could be termed stupid killing. I’ll agree, and it certainly ranks higher on my scale than cruelty towards animals.

    Humans ALWAYS outrank animals for me.

    Great blog, BTW!!

    Glad I stumbled on to it.

    Comment by Bill Waites — Thursday, 20, August, 2009 @ 15:27 | Reply

    • Bill

      19 is an odd time. They can marry, vote, sign contracts, join the military, procreate, and get into all SORTS of trouble. True, they cannot buy alcohol. This IS age discrimination, considering the other things that they can do, and imposed by the feds on the states by holding highway funds hostage. Also, 19 year olds cannot buy hand guns, but they may buy long arms and ammunition.

      I rankled at the vulnerable teenager comment the same way I rankle when 20 year old Marines in Iraq are described as “minor children, victims of gun violence” Yeah, true, sorta, but there is a qualitiative difference between a 10 year old and a 20 year old.

      We agree that Kobe Bryant’s behaviour was not acceptable, indeed blameworthy, and he’s old enough and not impaired enough to know better. I think the more aggrieved party in the adultery was the spouse, rather than the children.

      Comment by williamthecoroner — Thursday, 20, August, 2009 @ 20:21

  9. I would certainly agree that the spouse was terribly aggrieved and that type of injury should most definitely be termed cruelty. However, as I watch the degradation of our once great society, the group I find most damaged are the children. I treat literally dozens of children in my small rural practice who suffer from severe depression and anxiety because their parents are divorced/divorcing/cheating. These are kids who seemed perfectly adjusted and normal until one or the other of the parents (or both!) became so selfish that they cheated or otherwise disrupted these kids worlds.

    The single greatest cause of divorce seems to have shifted from financial issues to cheating. (I think “affair” whitewashes the damage). When a spouse cheats, and the kids find out, (and they almost always do if they are older than babies), it completely destroys any trust that child has developed in the stability of marriage, and it seems to just carry down from one generation to the next.

    Nevertheless, a mentally disturbed 19 year old is certainly more vulnerable than one not so handicapped. Kobi took advantage, and whether is was consensual or not, he certainly demonstrated his scumbagginess while doing so.

    Vick seems to be contrite, and I tend to be a “show me by your actions” kind of guy, so I will reserve judgement on whether or not he is reformed. That said, if he doesn’t play football, what CAN he do to make a reasonable living?

    Let him play, encourage him to do good works with his huge income, and see how things fall out!

    Comment by Bill Waites — Monday, 24, August, 2009 @ 12:35 | Reply

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