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Saturday, July 21, 2007
Professor Darryl C. Wilson on Reaction to Michael Vick's Indictment

Stetson University College of Law Professor Darryl C. Wilson, who co-authored a leading sports law case book (with Robert McCormick and Matthew McKinnon) and has been certified as an NFL contract advisor, responds to my comments and those of several readers on Michael Vick's indictment. Among other points, he questions why so many of us care about the indictment and the underlying behavior that Vick is alleged to have committed, while we do not appear concerned about many other, arguably worse forms of behavior that many of us are routinely engaged in (e.g., we kill thousands of animals a day for meat, and yet dog fighting upsets us). Here are his comments:
Once again the sports community is awash in hypocritical hyperbole as they go out of their way to villanize an athlete for something that has nothing to do with his/her sport.

Millions will change hands this weekend as we shout for blood and will walk away particularly satisfied if one of the athletes gets "retired" permanently one way or another in this weekend's fights, be they boxing, UFC, or other, but we are appalled at the idea that Vick might be "involved" in animal fighting.

I like the comment on the ham sandwich also being indicted. The ham sandwich will surely get off since sports is too filled with hams for them to let one of their own go down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Vick should be smarter and do better and blah blah blah but America loves to put the athlete on an undeserving pedestal, only to noose the statute later on and cheer as it comes toppling down. This is especially true of the overpaid uber minority who was done a favor by our beloved sports system and apparently ungratefully turned his/her back on the great institution. While Vick is certainly ultimately responsible for his involvement on whatever level, the media wildfire is nothing he or we deserve.

That idiotic comment by [U.S. Senator] Robert Byrd, who stood on the floor of Congress, where talk went from America's ongoing daily billion dollar draining foray into Mid-Eastern warfare to sports, to say the hottest place in hell was reserved for Vick and his fellow accused IF they were guilty as charged. Surely the hottest air on earth emanated from his mouth at that time and as the media keeps the heat on Vick it will be another sad day in American sports history if another very talented athlete gets burned for something as moribund as being involved in an activity that is clearly part of American and world culture.

This from a country that kills dogs and other pets by the millions daily, grinds them up with other junk, and feeds them to livestock that people will ultimately eat. The Jungle is alive and well on many fronts as another unwarranted feeding frenzy gets out of hand.


As I understand it, dog fighting consists of 2 animals being put in a pit and go at each other, while spectators stand around gambling on which one will win. Sounds a lot like pre-season football practice from my high school days. Of course, we didn't have any money riding on the outcome, but, then, I am not from the South.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 5:56 PM  

"That idiot Robert Byrd" -Hey Prof. McCann and others: how can you let a contributor get away with a statement like that? If you are indeed fair in screening your comments-which you have done in the past by disallowing so-called personal attacks-you ought not allow such statements (even if true) on your site from all, let alone Prof. Wilson. If you do not remove that statement, simply put: shame on you.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 6:53 PM  

I'm actually curious what you "issues worthy of discussion" are raised by this tired rant.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 7:50 PM  

Anon 6:53 -

You should read the original post. The "professor" got Byrd's name wrong. I can't believe the audacity of calling someone an idiot, much less a US Senator, when you can't even get his name right. Who is the idiot now?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 8:19 PM  

I am sorry. This blog is the best sports law blog out there and we all know it. However, when there have been personal attacks in the past, the "post has been removed" and then there was a scolding by the contributors to this post. To let this one slide shows a double-standard. Oh, and anon 7:50: you are right.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 8:35 PM  

Thank you.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 8:49 PM  

Anonymous 6:53 & 8:35,

Fair point on both of your parts. I have slightly edited the comments, in brackets, to make it consistent with what we expect of comments on the blog. In retrospect, I should have asked Professor Wilson if I could make the edit before I posted. I apologize.

Having said that, please note that in the relatively few instances where comments were removed from other posts, most contained expletives or, in one case, a racial epithet, rather than Dictionary-acceptable words like "jerk" or "idiot" etc. Whether that is an important distinction is another matter, but we have been consistent--I'm pretty sure the other commentators and myself, along with various persons mentioned in posts (e.g. Maurice Clarett), been called far worse than "idiot" in comments and those comments were not deleted.

I also suspect Senator Byrd has been called worse in his life, particularly given his past as a member of the Klu Klux Klan and his open efforts to preserve segregation, but that is another matter.

Anonymous 7:50,

I believe Professor Wilson has raised several important issues. For one, why do we care about dog fighting, and yet we willingly slaughter thousands of animals each day? If your response is that we need to for food, I suspect that a vegetarian would find that response unpersuasive. For another, would we care about this story if it didn't involve Michael Vick, but some random guy? In other words, do we actually care about what Vick did, or is that more that Vick did it?

Blogger Michael McCann -- 7/21/2007 9:04 PM  

Ahhh yes my "anonymous" friends, I did initially type Byrd's name wrong and if I'm an idiot for doing so, ok. I was enjoying my sports reading and CD playing at the same time and mixed up my references. But I do not feel bad about calling him an idiot for he has been called a lot worse and also called many others a lot worse in his time. I did agree to allow further editing to say "the idiotic comment by Byrd..." but since people know what I said originally and who I said it about it doesn't matter. And if that's all you got/get out of my post, such is life. "Lighthouse No Good"!. Now I'm off to see some guys hopefully beat the heck out of each other. Cheers

Anonymous professor darryl c. wilson -- 7/21/2007 10:18 PM  

I have to respect the voice brought to the above rant. At least it was written to inspire something in people.

Of course there is little point in listing his bio if he is only going to run off a sports talk radio style rant from Darryl in Florida.

You could basically write this exact same article about any story any day of the week. You could likely replace "Michael Vick" with "Paris Hilton" and the story would read roughly the same.

The fact that Professor Wilson chose to use this rant to quell whatever insurrection is mounting against Vick only suggests his own support of Vick and the agenda of the black male in professional sports.

That doesn't mean he's wrong. It just means anytime these stories hit, you have opportunists jumping in to blow their own horn and promote their own agenda. To get their "name out there."

So yes the same people damning the media for being a feeding frenzy are jumping in headfirst swinging bloody stubs trying to get the shark's attention.

Somehow I don't see how that really gets us anywhere.

P.S. If you don't see the difference between UFC and dog-fighting I don't think we can help you.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/21/2007 10:44 PM  

As for Michael Vick, I think Jon Stewart said it best earlier this week: "He calls [dog fighting] a sport. I’d like to cover him in liver and let the dogs see if he’s as fast and elusive as they say he is. My guess is no."

Then again, if Vick had one a championship for the Falcons (Kobe?), I wonder if 45% of Atlantans would want him released.

In response to Mike's first post, the reason we assume that indicted people are guilty is that they usually are--even if not convicted. Your post suggests that "guilt" is only defined by the legal standard "beyond a reasonable doubt," but to me, that is a procedural consideration designed to protect the accused from the massive power of the state, rather than a device for attributing moral responsibility. Vick, for better or worse, owes all of us an explanation; should he continue to offer none, he is guilty. Perhaps not of a criminal offense, but at a minimum of failing to be a good person.

Maybe there is no difference between dog fighting and the UFC. But most UFC matches end in 25 seconds, whereas some of Vick's dogfights apparently lasted two hours. The difference? A dog can't tap the mat to express a desire to surrender.

Blogger Geoffrey Rapp -- 7/21/2007 11:21 PM  

Whether or not America should rethink how we slaughter unwanted animals or overpopulated animals I think is beside the point. There is something perplexing and ultimately sick about watching and enjoying two animals fighting to kill one another. Boxers and UFC fighters choose to fight and are trained pros there's ref's and no one dies. To compare them is ludicrous and as a professor at an accredited University you should be able to make a more reasoned argument than that. Some of the allegations including electrocuting dogs to death and giving them golden retrievers to "practice" killing on deserve as much outrage as they are getting. Professor, you come off sounding like some blowhard know-it-all. If I was in one of your classes, I'd gladly tell it to your face. That said, I would have to agree with you that Congress has much better things they should be doing.

Anonymous SportGrdStudent -- 7/22/2007 12:35 AM  

At best, Wilson's remarks are an attempt to divert attention away from what Vick is accused of, at worst they come off as a defense of dog fighting.

As for the part of the original post on indictments, shouldn't we hope that those indicted are guilty? Otherwise, we have a pretty screwed up system if we are continually indicting innocent people. Say what you want about the presumption of innocence, but I should hope that 100% of the time we are indicting those who are guilty.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/22/2007 9:27 AM  

It is extremely desultory to compare MMA/boxing to dog fighting: one sport features fighters who, UNDER THEIR OWN WILL, are getting into a ring; the other is no more than a crimson bloodbath.

Blogger Nurmo -- 7/22/2007 10:02 AM  

Millions will change hands this weekend as we shout for blood and will walk away particularly satisfied if one of the athletes gets "retired" permanently one way or another in this weekend's fights, be they boxing, UFC, or other

Wrong. Few except the most boorish boxing/MMA fans "shout for blood" or want to see serious injury or death. Note, for instance, that the UFC's popularity didn't begin to take off until it toned down the more extreme violence of the sport. Promoting a sport as fight-to-the-death gladiatoral combat is a sure way of getting nothing but a fringe audience.

Anonymous Peter -- 7/22/2007 10:40 AM  

Is it really the contention of Professor Wilson that only strict vegans are able to condemn dog fighting? Or that a US Senator can't take up other worthy endeavors while the country is at war?

I'm really not sure what the professor is trying to convey in his "rant." Seems that he is just trying to shift the topic of debate rather than addressing what Vick is accused of.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/22/2007 12:40 PM  

You know, actually I am wondering if there was more than CD playing when he wrote this piece. I'd say that this posting by Prof. Wilson-to give him the benefit of the doubt-might be a classic example of someone who meant to say one thing, but the way that it was expressed was simply too confusing to put it lightly. I'm taking the glass is half-full approach, but I still can't figure out what he's really trying to say. Are millions of cats and dogs really being slaughtered every day??? Are we really talking about ham sandwiches, Michael Vick, dog fighting, race issues in America, UFC, or what?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/22/2007 1:10 PM  

Mike Vick may as well be Bigger Thomas in "Native Son"....these Birth of a Nation tactics by the media and this lynch'em now mentality of a gullible public is more disturbing to me than two dogs fighting ever will be. If anyone with 5th grade reading comprehension had actually read the indictment, they could have seen that once you got through the adjectives and adverbs, got down to the core of the sentences, all you have is a he said/she said from some anonymous individuals that has not been challenged yet. That's all...but hey, who needs fariness? Who needs "innocent until proven guilty"? That's just a tired, played out mantra. Nope, the sheep are jumping off the cligg one by one, because they are too dim-witted to THINK and critically analyze just the FACTS that are known. Damn...when the machines finally take over, won't be much of a fight.

Anonymous Miranda -- 7/22/2007 1:38 PM  

Intentionally spreading herpes.

Killing dogs.

Sorry if I don't run out and buy a poster of Vick to hang on my wall.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/22/2007 4:30 PM  

I've spent months annoying meat eating sports fans by comparing dog fighting to animal consumption. However, for me this does not mean minimizing the significance of dog fighting (as you do when you call it "an activity that is clearly part of American and world culture." It may be, but that doesn't mean it can't appall us). It means putting whatever outrage we feel into context, and striving to consider and eliminate the more prevalent types of animal cruelty that are legal and commonplace in our society.

Blogger Pacifist Viking -- 7/22/2007 7:41 PM  

Amen, Professor Wilson!

Another thing I'm sick of is the white-hating liberal elite media condemning that wrestler Chris Benoit. It's BS! Who among us doesn't go home every night, do steroids, inject our possibly retarded children with steroids, and then murder said children along with our stupid wife? If you say you're not doing this, we all know you're probably lying!

After all, if they would have read the Bible we placed next to their dead bodies, maybe they wouldn't have ended up like they did! The fear of God sure beats being six feet under, ain't that right, Brother Wilson!

And Hellooooo, athlete over here! If you're going to love me when I turn a double-play, you shouldn't be heard to complain when I commit a double-murder, too.

People do these things every night, but those east coast educated ninnies want me to feel outraged.

I'm sorry, but I'm with Darryl Wilson on this one: If you're going to insist on eating at Outback Steakhouse, please don't complain when I murder my family.

Blogger JMB -- 7/22/2007 11:39 PM  

WOW, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to touch this one, but as usual I feel the urge to put my two cents in here...

First of all, I think most of us have at one point misspelled, missquoted, or simply gotten someone's name wrong while posting something on this blog (or any other blog) so lets not get too crazy about a simple misstake, it happened, lets let that one go!

With that said...

Prof. Wilson,

I have had the pleasure to speak with you in the past and I attended the seminar at FCSL a few years ago where you were on the preformance enhancing drugs panel. I am usually quite amused by your comments, as it seems you do not hold back nor follow the path of political correctness to the point where your message gets distorded. But on this one I have to strongly disagree with you.

As one of the previours posters commented, there is a fundamental difference between dogfighting and boxing, MMA, etc. One difference is the consent/ free will. These animals are tortured into becoming fighters, they are starved, beaten and trained to kill... Maybe this does not sound to unlike a professional boxer, but when a boxer loses, he is not taken out back and shot by his promoter, this is the custom in dogfighting. I for one find it repulsive to hear athletes speak of it as a sport.
IF Vick was involved in this, he should go to jail!

I'm also a bit surprised by this comment:
it will be another sad day in American sports history if another very talented athlete gets burned for something as moribund as being involved in an activity that is clearly part of American and world culture.

Since when is it wrong to indict someone involved in illegal activity? Just because the illegal activity is widespread it does not make it ok.

So, on this one, I have to respectfully disagree.

Blogger Jimmy H -- 7/23/2007 12:39 AM  

Come on, Miranda -

"Nope, the sheep are jumping off the cligg one by one, because they are too dim-witted to THINK and critically analyze just the FACTS that are known. Damn...when the machines finally take over, won't be much of a fight."

This isn't the Durham DA we are talking about here. This is the Feds. I would assume that they wouldn't bring an indictment on such little evidence as "he said, she said." That may be enough to get you a search warrant, but is a fed prosecutor really going to indict Michael Vick on that? It's not like this investigation hasn't been going on for a while, if it took that long and all they figured out was they had four "witnesses" against Vick, you wouldn't be seeing an indictment, would you?

THINK and CRITICALLY ANALYZE the situation. Would the Feds really bring an indictment if they didn't have the goods on Vick?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/23/2007 5:33 PM  

The difference between dog fighting and UFC/boxing/etc: adults who knowingly participate in a sport vs. animals who are given no choice and are trained to be horribly violent (sometimes killed during training if they don't measure up). Also, those humans can stop the fight at any point and walk away. The animals can't. In fact I have never heard of a boxer being slammed on the concrete, electrocuted, or hung after he loses a fight.
The ham sandwich indictment comment is garbage. The Feds have a 95% conviction rate for a reason.
Killing animals for food serves a legitimate, viable, life sustaining purpose. Not a dog fighting expert but I am pretty sure it does not provide any of the above benefits.

Blogger Aaron -- 7/23/2007 7:05 PM  

I loathe dog fighting. I think it is a despicable act and that anyone found culpable should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

However, I am a believer in due process and I am concerned about the hysteria surrounding Vick before any resolution to the indictment has taken place. I find it troubling that the Humane Society of the US and PETA have already called for the NFL to "Sack Vick" prior to Vick being able to present his case or even before making any legally binding public statements regarding the matter.

One of the posters has claimed that the feds have a 95% success rate. I was under the impression that the American legal system operated under the maxim that one is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Any accused person - whether they be a suspected dog fighter, bank robber or murderer - has a right to have his day in court. Only once that right has been exercised and due process exhausted should, as the saying goes, the guilty party be fed to the wolves.

Also, it bears noting that Vick's celebrity status DOES have a bearing on this case. As noted by state officials, the feds taking over this case is highly unusual and would probably not have occurred if Michael Vick was a "nobody". Only the furor of the media, and specifically the sports media, compelled the feds to act and take over the investigation in the first place.

I realize that this is a touchy issue but the gravity of the crime should not and must not determine the rights of the accused.

Anonymous Jason Chung -- 7/24/2007 12:21 AM  

The above rant is highly emotional, but what point is it trying to make? Legalize dog fights? Make the UFC illegal? What an athlete does off the field is his own business? We should all be vegans? As somebody said above this sounds like it came off a sports talk radio, no matter who wrote it.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/24/2007 1:36 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Adam W -- 7/24/2007 10:19 PM  

It's odd, but as soon as I read his statement, I thought "he's got to be black", and lo and behold, he's black. When are blacks going to stop defending black criminals at all cost?

Blogger Kyle -- 7/31/2007 11:07 PM  

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