What was supposed to be a nice, introspective piece on Michael Vick's re-surgence/contrition somehow grabbed national headlines Thursday morning.
Two things and then I'm ending the conversation.
First of all, most of that GQ interview was basically a rip-off of one done by Philadelphia magazine in August. They both start from Vick's commencement speech before delving into the dogfighting stuff. I almost stopped reading because of that.
Enough about the not wanting to play in Philadelphia angle. Vick just wanted a shot at starting, he knew it wouldn't happen here, and then he got talked into taking a chance. By whomever you believe.
For the record, Vick put out a statement saying NFL commish Roger Goodell didn't steer him to Philly. So did the NFL. Now, even the author of the GQ article is agreeing with the NFL and Vick.
But let's get back to the racial comments Vick made.
Digest those for a second.
Now, let me say this: I am a white male. From a relatively well-to-do area outside Philadelphia. I've never been poverty-stricken, nor will I ever fully know what it was like for someone like Mike Vick growing up in Newport News, Virginia.
I do know, from having talked to people growing up in and around that area — and similar areas — that Vick is spitting the truth here. When I visited Atlanta a few years back, to watch Vick make his first trip back after leaving the Falcons, several black fans told me that they didn't see what the big deal was. They all sported Vick jerseys and the common response was, "The crime didn't fit the punishment." One group referenced the movie, "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins," saying that movie paralleled Vick's journey.
My point is, dogfighting has long been a way of life in the deep South, especially in black communities. Several people admitted this hard truth to me, off the record. Some — and certainly NOT ALL, by any stretch — simply don't see anything wrong with it.
While I have never witnessed any dogfighting first-hand in my travels, I feel that I have a good grasp on the situation/epidemic. It's a few bad apples spoiling the batch, to use a played-out analogy. But parts of what Vick said in that GQ interview ring true, even today. And they are things that the average white American might never fully understand.
Hey, if you don't believe me, go to the message boards.