Lying would've made sense, really. It's easy to see how someone in Michael Vick's situation in 2007 ‒ accused of running a dogfighting ring, facing federal felony charges, having everything to lose, and with the truth not being on his side ‒ would've seen lying as a strong option. And he did, as he confesses in his new book, "Finally Free."
"I knew how to lie with a straight face. Sad to say, Commissioner Goodell bought into what I was saying, and I think he truly believed me that I was telling the truth. I deeply regret not telling him the truth from the outset.
"It was a very nervous time for me. I knew I was going to try to lie my way through the whole dogfighting case and see if money, good lawyers, and manipulating the system could get me out of the position I was in -- which was a terrible position."
That's from USA Today, which had several very small snippets of Vick's new autobiography, which is due out Sept. 4.
Again, I can't blame the guy for having the initial urge to lie. It's not like that's a path rarely chosen by people in trouble. When you've got a reason to lie, the ability to lie and the resources to cover yourself, it happens. It's morally questionable, maybe, but understandable and not uncommon. It's a path a lot of people take. Sometimes, even to the point that they convince themselves it's the truth.
[Fantasy football: Michael Vick, Eli Manning head All-Rodney Dangerfield team]
In the end, Vick couldn't make the last two parts of his plan work. His lawyers couldn't do enough, and he couldn't manipulate the system as thoroughly as he'd hoped. Had the criminal case against him not been so strong, and had he not spent 19 months in federal prison, he'd probably still be lying about it today.
Vick also talked about how dedicated and committed he was to dogfighting.
"Back when I was involved in those activities, I may have become more dedicated to the deep study of dogs than I was to my Falcons playbook. [...] I became better at reading dogs than reading defenses. That's just so sad to say right now, because I put more time and effort into trying to master that pursuit than my own profession."
It makes me wonder what we missed out on. Vick had/has transcendent athletic ability, and did some amazing things even while ignoring the off-the-field things he could've done to improve his game. What would we have seen if he had he not given his life to dogfighting? What would a quarterback look like if he could read a defense and run and throw as Vick could in his physical prime? He could've altered the entire history of quarterbacking.
Instead, he altered the quality of dogfights at Bad Newz Kennels, which I think we'd all agree is not the best use of one's time. But maybe, in the long run, Vick's arrest and rehabilitation will bring awareness to the fight against dogfighting, and the good from that will trump the unfortunate waste of talent.
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