July 17, 2007

The (Allegedly) Losing Ways of Michael Vick and Friends

ACCORDING TO THE SMOKING GUN, a federal grand jury has indicted Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three other men on one count each of "conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture."

It should be noted upfront that Mr Vick has said previously that he was rarely at the Smithfield, Va., residence where authorities charge the dogfighting operation was run. He also has said he had no idea it might have been used in a criminal enterprise, and blamed family members for taking advantage of his generosity, according to the Associated Press.

However, if all the allegations contained in the grand jury's indictment are in fact true, it paints a very disturbing picture of Mr Vick's morality and that of his associates. For instance, in Paragraph 53 of the indictment, the grand jury charges that "in or about March of 2003, (Purnell) Peace, after consulting with Vick about the losing pit bull's condition, executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal." The pit bull's loss in a recent fight, the indictment charged, cost Vick & Co. some $13,000.

As if that wasn't fucked up enough, the indictment charges the dog-fighting operation routinely did away with animals it thought would not fight well or had lost bouts in which a large amount of money was at stake.

As depraved and immoral as these allegations are, however, what also amazes me is the stupidity of all the alleged partners in the scheme. If Mr Vick was in fact involved, he surely deserves the harshest glare from the spotlight, for he will have thrown away his multi-million dollar football career on a wretched and barbaric blood sport. Furthermore, if what the indictment says is true, Mr Vick is clearly an idiot of the highest degree. Consider the following charges:

1. Mr Vick's nickname, according to the indictment, is "Ookie."

Yes, that's right, "Ookie." What the hell kind of nickname is that? All the other losers mentioned in the court papers had at least understandable, if not imaginative, nicknames. But Ookie? I mean, I'm sorry, but when I think about badass nicknames that suggest a man can kick tail and take names, Ookie does not spring to the top of the list. Ookie sounds like the nickname of a guy you send to get sandwiches from the corner deli.

2. Mr Vick is alarmingly well-paid in his other work.

In 2004, Mr Vick signed a 10-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons. This contract was worth $130 million with a $37 million signing bonus. I'll repeat that again: $130 million with a $37 million signing bonus.

We can discuss another day why the Atlanta Falcons' management has the collective brainpower of an addled egg. For now, though, let's look at the fact Mr Vick has finished just two years of his contract, and if convicted will lose out on a huge portion of that $130 million. Certainly he would never work again as a major-league football player. To throw that type of money away in pursuit of anything is madness, much less engaging in a vile and foul activity like dogfighting, as Mr Vick has been charged with so doing.

3. The alleged dogfighting operation may well have lost money.

It stands to reason the indictment would not cover the entire universe of fights Mr Vick and his cohorts are charged with conspiring to bring about. Nor would it cover the entire universe of expenditures laid out for the operation. However, if you look at the fights in question, you can discern that of the 15 fights mentioned in the indictment, the operation lost some $17,900 on the bouts. Here's an accounting:

Fight 1 (See Paragraph 18) ($500)
Fight 2 (See Paragraph 24) $1,000
Fight 3 (See Paragraph 29) $1,000
Fight 4 (See Paragraph 32) $1,500
Fight 5 (See Paragraph 35) $5,000
Fight 6 (See Paragraph 38) $1,000
Fight 7 (See Paragraph 41) $3,600
Fight 8 (See Paragraph 44) $1,500
Fight 9 (See Paragraph 50) ($13,000)
Fight 10 (See Paragraph 54) ($10,000)
Fight 11 (See Paragraph 58) ($3,000)
Fight 12 (See Paragraph 63) ($1,500)
Fight 13 (See Paragraph 66) $3,500
Fight 14 (See Paragraph 71) (11,000)
Fight 15 (See Paragraph 77) 3,000

Subtotal of fight gains (losses) ($17,900)

This last item, I would submit, would show that Mr Vick and his associates -- if convicted of the charges brought against them -- are not the brightest bulbs in the lamp store.

One could argue this analysis is meaningless; after all, with the money Mr Vick was making, what would he care if he lost comparatively miniscule amounts here and there? But I would suggest that to Mr Vick's associates, and to those in the underground world of dog-fighting, they were large sums of money indeed.

Thus, it seems rational to conclude those in the dog-fighting world may well have looked hungrily upon the money Mr Vick and his cohorts allegedly put up for fight purses, and saw the whole operation as an easy mark. That goes especially when one looks at the big ticket losses allegedly racked up. If they did what the indictment charges they did, the indictment's accounting would show Mr Vick and his companions might have been able to handle the small fish, but when they came up against larger and smarter players, they were out of their league and paid dearly for it.

Speaking of being out of their league, the Falcons have issued a statement regarding Mr Vick's indictment. One could perhaps describe it as a bit tepid. However, on behalf of everyone here at The Rant, I would offer my sincere condolences to the team and its long-suffering fans, who have only seen their team in one Super Bowl and have yet to win the Big Game despite 40 years of trying.

OK, now that that's out of the way -- you guys thought 7-9 was bad last year? Hah! Have fun with Joey Harrington as your starting quarterback, you scoundrels!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 17, 2007 07:58 PM | TrackBack
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