February 16, 2011
Oprah Winfrey was only able to land her exclusive interview with Michael Vick(notes) after she agreed to drop a bet with CNN host Piers Morgan. The two television personalities had wagered on who would be the first to sit down with the reformed football star since his return to the field, but Morgan says Vick's people demanded the bet be canceled because they didn't want the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback associated with gambling.
Winfrey and Morgan had wagered 200 pounds (about $320 in the U.S.) on their race to book Vick. Oprah was set to win the bet earlier this week when she announced Vick would appear on her show on Feb. 24. She dropped the friendly wager as stipulated by Vick's handlers. Morgan explains:
"Here's what happened: I bet Oprah 200 pounds for this interview, and then a mysterious thing happened at the end of last week, where Michael Vick's agent rang us both up and said, 'He can't be party to gambling so he'll only do an interview with either of you if you withdraw the bet.' At which point, Oprah, quick as lightning, gets straight on Twitter and says, 'Dear Piers, I'm withdrawing the bet, I don't know why I let you talk me into it, I still love you, Oprah.'
"The moment I saw that, I knew what that meant was, if she did that on Twitter, she was in the clear and she had him in the bag! You shouldn't pick a fight with Oprah Winfrey, right?"
Morgan is a bit of a blowhard and I'm not entirely sure I believe this tale, but if it's true it demonstrates how these image rehabilitation tours are nothing but a sham. Vick can lend his name to parties at clubs but not be the subject of a tongue-in-cheek bet between two stars? What, is he afraid that Oprah's mostly female viewership will make the connection between this silly bet and the disgusting ones Vick made during his dogfighting days? Censoring the present doesn't erase the past.
If Vick doesn't want to be associated with gambling, playing quarterback in the NFL is probably the wrong occupation. Millions of dollars are wagered each week based on Vick's play and he doesn't seem to have a problem with that. I suppose the moral high ground is easier to take when it's convenient.
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