While Michael Vick sits in a federal penitentiary for the next 23 months and relives moments of his days in the underground world of dog fighting the way football fans used to view replays of his spectacular displays of game breaking plays, the former highest paid quarterback in the game will have to wonder how its come to this. In a letter written to judge Henry Hudson, who presided over his dog fighting case, before he went before him for sentencing Vick, 27, asked for leniency and explained that when he was a youngster growing up in Newport News, VA he experienced dog-fighting going on all around him without seeing anyone get hard time. Because of this Vick says he never realized the severity of Dog fighting. Instead he says he saw people in his community locked up over drugs and guns. Sports legends Henry and Aaron and George Foreman also wrote letters to the judge before Vick was sentenced to ask for leniency for the superstar quarterback.
There appears to be a bit of a racial divide nation wide on this controversial issue of Vick and Dig fighting and how wrong it really is in the grand scheme of things. It is no secret that dog fighting goes on in a lot of urban inner city areas across America and like Mike Vick said it goes on without much resistance from authorities. A look at the protest lines and support lines for Mike Vick outside the Virginia Courthouse, where he went before the judge, and the Atlanta Falcons practice facility will give you a clear glance on where most black Americans stand on the issue. A number of athletes from Terrell Owens to Stephon Marbury have spoken out in support of Michael Vick acknowledging that dog fighting is something that goes on in certain black neighborhoods in America while bringing up the point and asking the question why hunting animals in the wilderness is widely accepted when essentially the same thing is taking place.
Three year NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse joined the Michael Vick debate recently when he told WBAI Sports that he thinks the penalty on Vick is to harsh "It's crazy, although I don't condone dog fighting in the same breath how different is it from hunting? he said. "You're still killing animals to a certain degree, they say that dogs can't help themselves well neither can the deer or whatever else you're hunting. I am disappointed that he got that much time, he is a great great player and I've met him and from what I know of him he's a great person and he just made a mistake so hopefully he can bounce back from it and get back to doing his thing on the field." In light of the Michael Vick situation and other incidents involving athletes a lot of attention has been focused on the company that athletes keep off the field and some of their old ties from before they hit it big who may not be on the straight and narrow and may be a negative influence. In Vick's dog fighting case he had three co-defendants all of whom he knew from his childhood. All three had criminal records and entered into this illegal dog fighting enterprise with Vick. The operation reportedly went on for a few years and wasn't discovered by authorities until a cousin of Vick's was busted on an unrelated drug charge while out one night in Virginia. The cousin gave police the address of Vick's house in Surry County Virginia as his place of residence. Police believing the cousin was a drug pusher got a warrant to search the house for drugs and when they got on the premises they found no drugs but stumbled upon the dog fighting operation. Three childhood friends and one cousin helped lead to the downfall of the $100 million dollar quarterback and now Vick has no one to blame but himself for the situation he now finds himself in. Jerry Stackhouse says even if you are a professional athlete your friends from your early days should not be a problem "real G's are going to keep it the way they're supposed to. I have a lot of guys who I grew up with who knew that they had to step away from me, I didn't have to separate myself from them they stepped away from me because they knew that wasn't what I needed to get to where I wanted to go" he said "they new I couldn't have someone with a felony brining me down and I appreciate that. I still got love for those guys and in certain environments I can still be with them and show them love but just on the mainstream I'm not able to do that no more, and like I said real guys who I grew up with understand that. But there are a lot of players who have a circle of friends who don't look at it that way and they get offended by the fact that a guy has to change his role." In Michael Vick's case it appears as if he kept it too real with his boys instead of changing his role and doing the right thing.