I’m going to take a bit of a break from bulldog, pug, foster and coughing talk. Hang on, this is going to be a long and potentially controversial post.
I have a career in college athletics, thus it stands to reason that I love pretty much all sports. I grew up watching sports with my parents, participating in sports in high school and have obviously remained involved in sports since then.
I’m a hard-core Yankees fans (which is just another reason it stinks to be smack dab in Central PA where we don’t get Yankee games!) but I’m also a Jets fan, which if you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past week means there’s a seeming conflict of interest because in addition to loving sports, I also obviously love dogs.
Michael Vick was recently signed a one-year contract as a quarterback on the Jets roster. Michael Vick was also jailed for dog fighting and abuse charges.
A few people have asked me my thoughts on my team, the Jets, signing a quarterback who spent time in jail for his abuse of dogs. First of all, I encourage everyone to read The Lost Dogs. The book describes in great detail the events prior to, during and beyond the Vick court case. It’s a horrific but good read, if that makes sense. And it provides a lot of important facts, information and insight into the entire case, not just Vick’s role in it.
After reading that book I came away with a lot of thoughts about Vick before he even signed with the Jets. First of all, Vick was a ringleader of the dog fighting “business” he owned, but he was not the only ringleader. If you read the book you will see that many individuals deserved jail time, not just Vick, so while he is the poster child for this case because of his public profile, he did not act alone. It doesn’t change how I feel about the acts of abuse that were performed, but no one should hold Vick up as the sole cause for this particular case of abuse. Unfortunately for Vick, he is going to continually be portrayed as the lone face but that doesn’t mean he should be. Again, he should be a face but not the face.
Second, I believe every person has the right to earn a living. Whether or not I agree with the verdict and sentences Vick and others were given, I wasn’t the judge. I can’t change his sentence. And the law says he served the sentence he was given and has a right to now live his life. That includes being employed in some field of work. Vick just so happens to be good at football; really good. So he got a second stint in the NFL, first with the Eagles now with the Jets. Maybe I wouldn’t hire him at my company but who I am to tell the Jets who to hire?
Am I happy my team chose to sign Vick? This is going to be an unpopular answer, but yes. He’s a good quarterback and we are shaky at quarterback at best. Am I ecstatic? No. Partly because he’s good but not great (that’s the sports fan in me talking – I want a surefire Hall of Famer at quarterback) and partly because I in no way understand, condone or accept the dog fighting part of his past. And maybe even his present. I’m not naive.
But the Jets are a business. As a fan it’s very common to lose sight of that but the Jets are in the business of making money and winning (helps) make money. The Jets obviously believe they increased their chances of winning by signing Vick. Do I think it was a purely business decision? Yes! A million times, yes.
That’s why it does not make me as angry as some might expect. Businesses can very rarely afford to take moral stands; the Jets certainly can’t! With ticket prices rising, a lot of competition in the New York sports market and a not-so-great season last year, the Jets need to win, plain and simple.
(Yes, I realize good ol’ Mark isn’t our quarterback anymore)
Maybe in 10 years and after three Superbowl rings (hahaha) the Jets can afford to take a moral stand. I just don’t think they’re in that position right now and to be honest, I really don’t think 99% of teams are in or have ever been in that position.
In short, I don’t have to support or root for Vick the person. And I won’t. What he did was disgusting and sickening but in this case it’s very easy for me to choose to root for the name on the front of the jersey. If he sucks, I won’t care in the least if he loses his job (and my prediction is he’ll earn the starting job. You heard it here first) because he’s not really a person to me, just a body filling a jersey.
On that note, J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!