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I am an animal lover, this is a well-established fact.  It is a factor in my personality that defines me almost to a fault.  I have been accused at times of liking animals more than people and found it hard to argue the fact.  As such, I find any instance of animal cruelty to be beyond the pale.

This is why I have on a number of occasions railed against Michael Vick.

Now, I know that many say he has “paid his debt to society.”  And, in a legal sense, I can’t argue with them.  And, yes, he has taken it upon himself to become an advocate to children speaking on a number of causes including animal cruelty.  It just all seems at least a small bit disingenuous to me.  He had a serious image problem and needed desperately to rehab that image to secure his ability to play in the NFL and to be sure he could continue with a semi-lucrative lifestyle.

In no way do I think he has paid for what he did to those dogs.

But, it is hard to make a case to toss Vick out of the NFL when others continue to play with other serious offenses from domestic violence to drug charges to murder laid out against them.  But, despite the fact that I hate the fact that he is out there among the privileged elite of sports making more money in a season than many of us will see in a lifetime, I can grind my teeth and accept that he has been welcomed back.

This weekend, however, was a bit much to swallow.

On Saturday, the Associated Press named Vick the 2010 Comeback Player of the Year.  In so doing, the AP, about as respected as you can get in the realm of news organizations, has declared Vick to be redeemed in the eyes of the media.  He is no longer to be considered a figure of controversy, but a standard for the competitive spirit fighting back from adversity.

What a load of crap, pardon my language.

Of course, the AP can hardly be fully condemned for this atrocity.  While the AP Comeback award is certainly considered to be the big one of its type, Vick also received Comeback Player of the Year awards from The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, and the NFL Player’s Pulse.  That final one is awarded by the NFL Player’s Association, and, thus, speaks to the opinion of his fellow pro athletes.

Reading this news had me seething, but worse was yet to come.

That same day Vick was in Dallas to continue his speaking engagements to kids about being a bad guy who is now a media darling. (Sarcasm added at no additional charge.)  While he was in town he got a little visit from Dallas mayor pro tem Dwaine Caraway who bestowed upon him, get this, the key to the city.

And why was Vick given the key to the city?  When asked that very question Caraway responded with this inanity:

He is telling kids and exchanging with them the rights and wrongs of the things that he did and encouraging kids to further their education and to not deal with the drugs. To obey their parents and pick the people they hang around.

That’s a message I would challenge anybody to say that not one kid across America shouldn’t hear from people in notoriety such as Michael Vick.

I won’t even start on the syntax and odd grammatical structure of this statement from a public official.  The message is clear, the mayor pro tem of Dallas sees Vick as someone who overcame great adversity to become a shining example to our children.

Um, no.

Vick is a man who caused great adversity and pain to creatures who knew no better than to trust that a human would care for them.   He was involved in horrific acts of cruelty and after spending less than two years incarcerated was allowed to cry some crocodile tears and go back to playing a game for millions of dollars.

That is not a message I want sent to the children of this country.  And worse yet, Vick has no ties to Dallas.  He was born in Newport News, Virginia.  He played his college ball at Virginia Tech.  He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons and currently plays for the Dallas arch-rival Philadelphia Eagles.  So, I ask again, why is he getting the key to the damn city?

The mayor, Tom Leppert actually addressed that on Monday.

“The action taken was not sanctioned by my office and was not an official ceremonial honor on behalf of the City of Dallas.  Official Keys to the City are presented by the Mayor, or an elected official designated by the Mayor, and reserved, on a limited basis, for an elected official of international status. Clearly, this was not the case in this situation and done without my knowledge or approval.”

So, apparently the mayor pro tem took this upon himself without talking to anyone first.  Well, it was one hell of a great call there, Caraway.  Even your own mayor is saying you were a bit out of line.

Think whatever you want of Vick.  I know that many think that I am over the top in my criticisms, but I don’t really care.  But, whatever you do have a little intellectual honesty.  This man only overcame adversity that he caused for himself.  And the terrible strife he had to overcome is nothing compared to the hell he created for those dogs.

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