The first shoe drops for Vick
— Or, if you prefer, Vick is first dropped by a shoe:
Nike Inc. suspended the introduction of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s latest shoe two days after a federal grand jury indicted him for allegedly conspiring to run a dog-fighting operation from a home he owned in Virginia.
Nike, the world’s largest athletic-shoe maker, is concerned about the “highly disturbing allegations” and decided to postpone the release of Vick’s shoe, spokesman Dean Stoyer said today. The shoe would be the National Football League player’s fifth for the company.
“We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen; therefore we have not terminated our relationship,” Stoyer said in a statement. “We have, however, made the decision to suspend the release of the Zoom Vick V and related marketing communications.”
Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who was on vacation when a grand jury indicted Vick and three other men July 17, said the team needed to consider “a wide range of interests and legal issues” before deciding how to respond to the situation, “including our need to respect the due process that Michael is entitled to.”
Predictably, everyone is being careful thus far to grant that Vick is deserving of his due process. But beyond that, support for Vick has been tepid.
Even Al Sharpton is taking measures to preemptively distance himself from Vick:
The Rev. Al Sharpton teamed with PETA Wednesday to criticize dogfighting in a letter that went to all of Michael Vick’s corporate sponsors.
The letter, signed by Sharpton, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, went to Vick’s sponsors, Falcons CEO Arthur Blank, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“The recent media spotlight on dogfighting reminds us of society’s callous disregard for the suffering of animals and disrespect for sentient beings,” they wrote in letters that arrived by FedEx Wednesday morning.
“We hope that Mr. Vick is not a product of this insensitivity that runs through our society. … It does us little good to prosecute just those who are famous and allow people across the country to continue to commit these hideous crimes. We are hopeful that authorities will take the appropriate action against anyone found guilty of an atrocity as serious as dogfighting …
As I predicted in my initial post after Vick’s indictment was announced, a few people have begun rumblings about dog fighting being a “cultural” thing — largely tied to gangsta culture — and so will begin to trickle out the suggestion that Vick is being targeted for being Black.
Which, supposedly, is the argument being made by ESPN’s Skip Bayless — a man so white that he scares the shit out of ghosts — though he is also on record as saying the Falcons should cut bait with Vick and try to pick up Daunte Culpepper. Still, his suggestion that dog fighting is a “black sport” is the quintessence of the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Let’s get one thing straight: Michael Vick was not targeted for indictment because he is Black, nor is dog fighting a “Black thang.” Vick was targeted for indictment because he is, allegedly, a big player in the thug world of dog fighting — and he is a high profile figure, one that prosecutors often use to prove that they are willing to go after “the rich and powerful.”
In short, he’s this year’s Martha Stewart. Though I have a feeling his prison diaries won’t be nearly so interesting should he be convicted and sentenced to prison.