Michael Vick has signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was jailed for his participation and bankrolling a dog fighting ring. There are some that say he’s paid his debt to society and it’s perfectly fine for him to play again. And, there are many people who aren’t happy with the prospect of Vick playing in the NFL again. Here’s my problem with those who have a problem.
The NFL, football for that matter, is a sport of violence. The people who play the sport are those who are able to be violent, endure violence and give violence. The NFL is a culture of violence. Mike Tomlin, head coach of the NFL Champion Pittsburgh Steelers said in a 2007 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview, “It’s part of the culture. Things that go on outside the white lines always manifest themselves inside the white lines. That’s the bottom line. We had a tough job there, and it was just beginning to scratch the surface.”
The news media has gone out and to local sports bars and pubs in Philadelphia and asked passionate fans if they approve–many don’t. They say they don’t want a dog fighter on their team or in the league. But, they’re fine with rapists, drunken drivers, drug and alcohol offenders and others with other criminal offenses.
Reports cite 21-40 percent of the NFL has a criminal record.
According to authors Jeff Benedict and Don Yaeger in a controversial study, Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, published by Warner Books, 21 percent of NFL players — more than one in five — have been charged with at least one serious crime, including two murder arrests, seven rape charges, 45 counts of domestic violence and 42 charges of assault and battery.
And no, the NFL doesn’t turn athletes into criminals or bad seeds. A Dallas Morning News article from 1997, over 10 years ago, reported, “In the past year, more than 70 NCAADivision I athletes, the vast majority football players, at 21 schools in 18 states have been arrested for offenses ranging from drug possession to sexual assault. ”
The Reputation Issue
Clearly as a society of sports fans we value some crimes more serve than others. In a way, we’ve become desensitized to assaults, rape, drugs. I understand that abusing dogs is considered more heinous because dogs can’t defend themselves, because they are man’s best friend. But what about our fellow man?
NFL commissioner Godell has taken a more strict approach to managing players off-the-field actions inside the league, however, if the stat holds up that 40 percent of NFL players have records, there may not be anyone left to field a league.
It’s my opinion the outrage towards Vick is misguided. I don’t support Vick, his actions or the obnoxious Philadelphia Eagles, but I can’t ignore that his criminal behavior is par for the course among his peers. (Read the NFL All Criminal Team)
They say to play in the NFL is a privilege. I say for fans to pay to watch NFL football and buy the merchandise is the real privilege. However, as long as fans give the NFL privilege to have a culture of violence, they cannot hold the NFL, its sponsors or anyone else responsible for Michael Vick to put an Eagle on his head and take the field on Sundays.