bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Michael Vick gets a dog

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It was bound to happen. Three years ago, Michael Vick left Leavenworth prison after serving nearly two years on charges related to the dog-fighting ring he had been running in Virginia. A year later, he became the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Around the city of Philadelphia, there are a variety of opinions about Vick, from people who despise him and refuse to watch the Eagles while he is playing, to those who feel that he served his time and deserves to be judged based on his performance. Whether or not you like him, it would be tough to find fault with his behavior during his time with the team, as he has done and said the right things throughout. Until this week, that is. On Thursday, Vick admitted that he owns a dog.

As a condition of his probation, Vick was not allowed to own a pet. That probation ended this past summer, and it appears that Vick did not waste any time jumping into pet ownership. There are a number of reasons I have an issue with this. First, he had to know that this would be poorly received by the public. That is not necessarily a reason to not do it, I guess, but he has spent so much time and effort trying to change his image over the last few years that I would think he might have waited a bit after becoming “eligible.” Yes, he is not breaking any laws or doing anything that he is not fully entitled to do, but sometimes you have to consider what the perception of your actions will be. There are still a lot of us out here who are horrified by what he did to those dogs, and the thought of him having another dog to abuse is an unpleasant one. I also think that he would have been wise to do this at a time when his performance on the field was not being seriously questioned. He has been turning the ball over at an alarming rate this season, and a lot of Eagles fans are calling for him to be benched in favor of the promising rookie Nick Foles. His contract is structured in such a way that he is likely to be released after this season if his performance is not up to expectations. The team, presumably at least somewhat concerned about the opinion of its fans, is unlikely to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like this if he is not lighting it up on Sundays.

For me, the worst part of this is the fact that he was not forthcoming about it. During his tenure with the Eagles, I have been impressed by his willingness to answer questions openly and honestly. I don’t know if that was his own doing or if his handlers have influenced him in this way, but he has appeared to have hidden nothing since he came to the team. The fact that he had a dog was discovered because of a Twitter screwup, not because of any kind of announcement. Early in the week, Vick tweeted a picture of himself studying the playbook on an iPad while sitting at his kitchen table with his daughter. When he posted the picture, he clearly did not realize that a box of Milk-Bones was visible on the table. He later removed the tweet, but it had been seen by many. The next day, a radio reporter asked him about the picture during a news conference at the team’s training facility. Rather than own up to it, Vick responded with:

“I’m here to strictly talk about football. What goes on in my personal life is not to be talked about. What’s most important right now is the Philadelphia Eagles and getting the win Sunday.”

If he thought that would be accepted and the issue would go away, he was very short-sighted. This would have been an issue no matter what, but what could have been a pretty minor blip, had it been handled in an up-front manner, became a much larger story because of the way it came to light and the subsequent botched attempt at avoiding the matter. On Thursday, a statement, ostensibly from Vick but clearly written by the team, was sent out addressing the issue. He claims that he wants to teach his children how to respect and love animals, and that he will continue to work hard on behalf of abused animals. In the end, I hope he does keep that work going, but I hope he does it in another city. Granted, that is more because I just can’t take his poor play and bad decision-making anymore than it is because he now has a dog, but I am sure I am giving him very little benefit of the doubt due to both his past and his present actions.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Mike Leach, long-time football coach at Texas Tech and currently head coach at Washington State, has always been an outspoken character. This week, he called the seniors on his team a bunch of “empty corpses.” Classy. I expect there was another way he could have put that.

3) I have generally admired Jim Harbaugh since he became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers at the beginning of last season. He has done a great job with the team, and he is a fiery leader who has really changed the personality of that squad. He also appears to be a bit of a whiner, though. This week, in response to comments made by New York Giants assistant coach Kevin Gilbride about 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith, Harbaugh complained that Gilbride was trying to unfairly influence the officials in advance of the teams’ matchup that happened yesterday (the Giants won big). Of course he was trying to influence the officials, Jim. Every coach in the league does that, and you sound like a dope complaining about it publicly.

4) A man was stabbed at the Carrier Dome on Friday night during “Orange Madness,” the opening practice for the Syracuse basketball team.

5) Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill had another seizure incident on Saturday after his team lost to Northwestern. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and observation.

6) Aqib Talib, a cornerback for the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, was suspended on Saturday for failing a drug test. He says he took an Adderall without a prescription once during training camp. Yeah, whatever.

7) New York Yankees shortstop and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter broke his ankle during his team’s loss to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night. He will miss the remainder of the postseason.

8) Charlie Weis continues to prove that he should not be a head coach anywhere. His Kansas Jayhawks are brutal, and he has not become a nicer guy because of it. Upset with the cover of the school newspaper that appeared to predict a beating at the hands on in-state rival Kansas State, Weis tweeted his displeasure, and subsequently tried to strong arm a member of the paper’s staff into staying quiet during a press conference. This guy needs to get a clue.

9) New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes tweeted this gem this week:

“I’m homophobic just like I’m arachnophobic.I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I’d still scream if I found one in my bathtub !”

Hilarious. I am sure you’ll have some fun trying to defend that piece of comedy.

Good sports:

1) The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals were down to their final strike on Friday against the Washington Nationals. The two teams were tied at two games apiece in their playoff series going into the game, and the Nationals were leading 7-5 in the top of the ninth after having led 6-0 after three innings. With two outs in the ninth, the Cardinals started a rally that led to 4 runs and a huge win that sent them to the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.

2) Raul Ibanez did not start for the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, but that’s about all he didn’t do. He came up in the ninth as a pinch-hitter for Alex Rodriguez, who had been ineffective. He promptly tied the game with a homerun, sending the tilt into extra innings. Not content to leave it at that, he came up again in the 12th and sent the first pitch he saw into the outfield seats, ending the game and giving the Yankees a two games to one lead in their first round playoff series. Amazingly, Ibanez also homered in the ninth inning of Saturday night’s game against Detroit, sending that one into extra frames as well. The Yankees lost the game, however.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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