Last Saturday afternoon (the same day he received the AP Comeback Player of the Year award), Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick(notes) was given the key to the city of Dallas by Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, an action that caused an uproar among local animal-rights groups ... and the actual mayor of the city, Tom Leppert.
"The action taken was not sanctioned by my office and was not an official ceremonial honor on behalf of the City of Dallas," Leppert said in a statement. "Official Keys to the City are presented by the Mayor, or an elected official designated by the Mayor, and reserved, on a limited basis, for an elected official of international status. Clearly, this was not the case in this situation and done without my knowledge or approval."
When asked why he gave Vick a key to the city in a ceremony that apparently had no official sanction, Caraway spoke to the fact that Vick was addressing a children's group at the time, talking about the trouble he got into when he was convicted of running a dogfighting ring and sentenced to 19 months in federal prison.
"He is telling kids and exchanging with them the rights and wrongs of the things that he did and encouraging kids to further their education and to not deal with the drugs," Caraway said. "To obey their parents and pick the people they hang around. That's a message I would challenge anybody to say that not one kid across America shouldn't hear from people in notoriety such as Michael Vick."
Vick was making an appearance at Super Teen Saturday sponsored by TVtextbook, one of many public appearances he makes. As he was leaving the event with a security entourage, Vick was confronted by radio reporter Richard Hunter, who adopted one of the dogs from the Bad Newz Kennels Vick was a part of. Vick's people rushed him out of the event, and Hunter relayed that when he told Vick that he adopted one of the dogs and showed him a picture of the animal, Vick "turned and looked at the picture ... then looked me right in the eye ... and walked away."
The dichotomy between the message Vick gave to the kids at the event, and his inability to take a second for a person who saved one of the dogs in Vick's kennels seems fairly stark, though we don't know if Vick gets people coming up to him talking about dogs with more nefarious things in mind (something that would explain his security detail). It is impossible, however, to know what was happening as Vick is confronted a lot about the dogfighting issue, and this very well could have been an ambush. As far as we know, Vick has not released a statement about the event, the award, or the confrontation at this time.