Crime and Punishment, Part One

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Over the past few weeks, we have been literally bombarded with news and updates on notorious felons Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress. Vick and Burress have been responsible for numerous crimes against the entire world that have resulted in the collapse of society as we know it and there can be no punishment great enough to keep these two guys off the streets and certainly, far away from a football field.

Yes, I am being sarcastic. But if you were a child who couldn't read between the lines and see past what people were telling you, you could easily come to that conclusion.

With Michael Vick, we have a guy who has done more than his fair share of time in jail for what he was convicted of. Yet, when you hear some people talk (particularly about him playing again), you get the feeling that he really hasn't done anything up to this point. There's this prevailing notion that some way, some how, Vick must now now do "something" else to prove he is worthy of being in society.

That is absurd.

First, I just don't think these people really understand the realities of jail. Or at the very least, they don't understand Leavenworth. Nickname the "Hot House" because of poor ventilation, Leavenworth is not the country club prisons that most stars enjoyed.
No, Vick was in the pen. The real pen. For 18 months. With people who did things a lot worse than what he did. The place where they are currently considering sending Gitmo detainees.

People seem to question if Vick has done enough.

What exactly do they think Vick was doing in there for the last year and a half?

No, going to Leavenworth and losing about 150 million is more than enough punishment for damn near anything. The continued anger against him is just over the top. One local radio show questioned when he should be allowed to have a pet again (I'm serious). Some people said never. Others, 5 or 10 years. I could only shake my head.

So we're okay with drunk drivers getting their licenses back and operating automobiles, but Vick getting a dog again at some point is outrageous? As someone who has lost a couple of friends to drunk drivers who presently own vehicles and drive around freely, I just can't understand how people are so lax toward an issue with true impact on humanity but yell from the top of their lungs about another issue that is pretty much only practiced by a small percentage of the population.

Then there's PETA. For an organization so bent on keeping Vick punished, they sure aren't doing a very good job of protesting animals themselves. PETA itself has killed over 17000 animals it "rescued" since 1998 (Newsweek) 95% of the animals it took in 2008 (Center for Consumer Freedom). In 2008, PETA killed 2,124 dogs and only found homes for 7 despite a 32 million dollar budget. You can read more about this and find more documentation at So, the next time someone wants to roll out PETA you've got more than enough facts to combat them with. The Humane Society is no better.

Looking at some of those stats, I can't help but wonder if PETA spent more time and resources coming after Vick than on trying to actually find homes for those animals.

Also, consider that in what is being called the largest dogfighting bust in US history, about 400 dogs were seized. (LA Times) That's still about 1700 short of the amount of dogs PETA killed. No matter what side of the fence you are currently on, it is pretty hard to believe than an organization with the resources of PETA could only save 7 of over 2000 animals.

On the other hand, a whopping 13000 people die every year from drunk driving. ( CBS News ) Keep in mind, that's just the amount of people that actually die. It does not include those who are hurt.

Naturally, this isn't to condone dogfighting. But it is to shed light on the actual problem and some perspective on one of Vick's main attackers. So while there is crusade to keep Vick off NFL sidelines, the 18 players who have been charged with DUI's over the past three years ( Yahoo Sports ), with the notable exception of Donte Stallworth, are flying under the radar. And Stallworth's big punishment? A whopping 24 days in jail.

Stallworth met with the league today so we'll see how his punishment goes. But what about all those other guys? A couple games here and there and they are right back on the field with lil to no fanfare.

I bring all this up to illustrate another point. Goddell is often lauded as some kind of enforcer who is looking to "crack down" on people in the league.


Goddell simply goes after whoever the villain of the week is. There is little punishment toward certain people because there is little media attention surrounding them. When the media rolls on a player (Vick, Pacman, Tank Johnson, Plaxico, etc) Goddell swoops in with a heavy hammer. When there is no media fanfare, there is little punishment from Goddell.

Which all brings me back to Vick.

With Vick, no matter how you fell about him, you have a guy who actually faced a stiff penalty for his actions. He has suffered plenty. He deserves a chance to rehabilitate himself and play football again.

I'll give my thoughts on Plaxico in Part II.

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