Rise and fall of Vick#8217;s empire

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 27, 2007

For Michael Vick, it was a statement ranking right up there with former President Bill Clinton.

Once upon a time while on the campaign trail, the ex Prez, and soon-to-be “First Husband” if Hillary doesn’t lose money and stream down the stretch, admitted to smoking marijuana. However, he claimed he didn’t inhale.

Now, in “Clindistic” fashion, Vick, an ex NFL superstar destined for passing his time in prison rather than tossing aerials to pro receivers, claims he placed bets on illegal dog fights, but never won any money.

Gee, Mike, either you’re lousy at picking the winners on the daily “Pit Bull Form” or you are not exactly telling us the truth. Perhaps you should have stuck to your original story, claiming your complete innocence of all the charges against you.

But, alas, you changed that song-and-dance, admitting to not only placing bets, but organizing dogfights as well. You even went as far to say that if your dogs didn’t live-up to expectations, you brutally murdered them for not showing enough killer instinct.

I guess it should go without saying that Vick’s former Atlanta Falcons teammates can now rest a bit more comfortable at night knowing their lives are spared for dropping a pass, losing a fumble or missing a tackle.

What really got my goat on the Vick case was his defense attorneys were circling the wagons around their Pro Bowl quarterback client, I guess in an effort to make Mike look like a choir boy in this mess. The mud was being slung at Vick’s dog fighting cohorts, a trio of less-than-respectable men who used Mike’s money to put on these brutal canine displays of death.

How many people out there fell for that ploy? I know they were some as I read an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where Vick’s ordeal was tied to racism…..a black man targeted by a white society only because of the color of his skin.

I don’t buy that, no more than I fail to believe Bill Clinton didn’t inhale.

What Michael Vick does with his wealth is his business, that is if it’s all legal dealings. As an adult, he could have easily chosen such legal vices as gambling in Vegas (as long as it wasn’t a pro football wager) or betting on the horses. He could have invested his money into real estate, stocks/bonds or bankrolling a legitimate business venture.

But no, he freely admits he was into dog fighting, which is illegal. He wasn’t signaled out because his skin was black, but rather because his brain was void of logical thinking.

I noticed something years ago about Michael Vick when he was still a quarterback at Virginia Tech. I was on the sideline at East Carolina University when Vick and the Hokies paid the Pirates a visit. I watched how he would glare at a teammate for not properly executing a play, even though they didn’t return the hateful stare when he, like all of us do on a daily basis, committed a mistake.

Then, during the post-game press conference, it was like Vick was the only player on the field that day for the Hokies. He was his biggest fan and the chip he carried on his shoulder was even larger than his own ego.

Mike Vick is an enormously talented individual, so much to the point where, other than the offensive or defensive lines, he could play any position on the football field. It’s no wonder that the Falcons rewarded this talented man by signing him to a $130 million contract, including $37 million cash up front for putting his name on the dotted line.

But somehow, somewhere along the way, Vick decided to throw it all away and other than my personal observations of this man a few years back, we should known his fall from grace was right around the corner.

In 2004, two men were arrested in Virginia with a pickup truck bed full of marijuana. Vick wasn’t among the duo, but it was his truck. The blame rested with the driver and passenger while Vick avoided


One year later, Vick was sued by a woman who alleged she contracted genital herpes from the star quarterback. That case was settled out of court.

In 2006, Vick ran afoul of the Atlanta fans, who had booed him for a poor game (at least they didn’t shoot him). He flipped them off with a double middle-finger salute.

Then, in January of this year, Vick was caught at an airport with a water bottle that had a secret compartment. Airport security said the bottom of the bottle smelled strongly of marijuana and contained a great deal of pot residue.

It got to the point where Vick’s behavior and self-discipline were so bad, according to press reports, that the Falcons hired former NFL star Billy &uot;White Shoes&uot; Johnson to keep him and his entourage out of trouble and even to drive Mike to court appearances.

Whatever drove Michael Vick off life’s cliff may not ever be known, but it did ruin the career of one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever seen.

The real loser in all this isn’t Mike Vick, but rather those young boys, all wearing miniature #7 jerseys, most being raised in less than desirable environments and saw Vick as their hero, a pied piper of sorts leading them out of the ghetto. Vick should be able to ignore the taunts of his adult fans, but the tears of those young people should haunt for forever.