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ESPN ran a story Wednesday stating the NAACP, the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and other local civil rights groups are planning to march around Lincoln Field on Thursday in support of recently signed QB Michael Vick. Say it isn't so!
Eagles management tried avoiding an "ugly scene" by phoning representatives of the various groups trying to get this event canceled. The main thrust behind this event, if taken at face value, is as follows (quoted from ESPN's Sal Paolantonio article 08/26/09):
"We believe Michael Vick has served his time, paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance and the animal rights groups want to hold him hostage for the rest of his life," J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said Wednesday. "We think that's patently unfair. It denies Michael Vick's basic civil rights, denies him his ability to make a living."
So what's wrong with this picture? Many things. Too many, too obvious. Here are a few simple questions for my readers to ponder. Didn't Michael Vick receive a second chance from the NFL? Yes. Did he or didn't he sign an employment contract to be a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles? Yes. Was he or was he not named as starting QB for tonight's pre-season football game? Yes. Has Vick's civil rights been violated due to being incarcerated for running an illegal dog fighting ring? No.
So why is the NAACP and other civil rights groups planning to march tonight? To what end? Vick has been reinstated by the NFL giving him a right to play football (earn a living). Vick's debt to society has been served (jail term). He's a free man. While I'm certain many NFL teams did not want to take on a public image nightmare, Philadelphia took their chances. Now what? Civil rights groups will protest in contrast to the above Mondesire quote.
ESPN's story points out animal rights groups have used Vick as somewhat of a poster child attempting to garner support and awareness for abused animals. Everything from raising awareness, trying to find abused animals homes and seeking donations for helping animals subjected to cruelty. Local animal groups are trying to get the Eagles to match Vick's contract with a donation to their cause. How does this violate MV's civil rights? They have not called for any formal protests against the Eagles. Filed no petitions to have Vick terminated. Paolantonio wrote: "Local animal advocates seem to be keeping their distance. Rather than protest Vick or work with him, they prefer to use the public debate about his return to the NFL to raise money and awareness of animal cruelty issues." So what's the problem?
I fail to understand how a civil rights march outside Lincoln Field dedicated to "...(Vick) denied the ability to make a living" is supposed to help a person currently employed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Quite obviously, Vick's ability to earn a living has not been denied. How many other convicted felons sign a $1.6million contract in such a short time after being released from prison? This smells of something much deeper which I will address at a later date after tapping resources close to the situation at hand.
Let me take this one step further. What happens, who will be held responsible and accountable, if an innocent person(s) heading to the game suffers an injury if this protest turns ugly? Who will be responsible for any vandalism, property damage or civil injustices (which accompanies most large protests)? Afterall, we're talking about Philadelphia. It's one tough city and has been subject of many indecencies by unruly fans towards others. Remember hearing of temporary jails being set up at old Veterans Stadium in years past after drunken idiots started fighting or throwing objects during Phillies and Eagles games?
There are far better ways for the NAACP to bring positive attention to whatever cause they claim to be fighting. Engaging a protest in this manner, based on lack of "ability to earn a living", is a political sham devoid of fact and created for another purpose. If animal rights advocates have in any way, shape or form prevented Michael Vick from earning a living in the NFL or earning endorsements... then, NAACP should take up their cause directly with those they deem responsible by way of litigation or any other civil manner in which even the remote possibility of injury to others is not possible.
I'm curious why Paolantonio didn't interview Michael Vick for this news story? Is Vick for or against this march? How do Philadelphia Eagles players feel about it? Philadelphia police? Let's hope nothing bad comes from the march. It would be very unsettling should anyone get physically hurt or impared. In my opinion, far better venues for airing grievences can be found.
All World All Sports (www.allworldallsports.com)