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I haven't seen this news story in the British press yet, so I thought I'd share it with you. I warn you though, it really isn't for the faint-hearted. And I'm really not joking.

Let me introduce you to this man...

His name is Michael Vick. He is the superstar quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. One of the richest and most famous sportsmen in the USA.

Over the years, a number of American sportsmen have had brushes with the law, so when on April 25th, a Virginia radio station reported that police had searched a house in Surry County, Virginia belonging to Michael Vick, nobody paid that much attention.

I first heard the story through the American football gossip site www.profootballtalk.com. PFT has a somewhat dodgy reputation among the 'real' media in the US - partly because it usually beats them to the story, partly because it is prepared to prick the pompous egos of mainstream journalists and just maybe because it takes a crusading line on the bad behaviour of American sportsmen. One of their features is 'Turd Watch' which is a league table for NFL teams where teams score points for every player arrested (more points if it's a felony). Since Turd Watch started, the 'Days since last arrest counter' has reached double figures only twice.

Up until the last couple of days, if you had searched through American news media, you would have found only passing mentions of this Michael Vick story. Not so in PFT, which has typically posted several updates a day.

Two days ago, Michael Vick was indicted with three others on charges of "conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in animal fighting venture."



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 19th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)
I'll give full credit here to www.profootballtalk.com, both for the text of this post and for persevering with this story. It is largely due to their persistence that Vick's sponsors have already started dropping him and that the mainstream media is now calling for Vick's suspension from the NFL and sacking from the Falcons before any trial.

Jul. 19th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Reporting from PFT:

"Here are some highlights from the 18-page indictment. All of the following statements are based on allegations contained in the document.

The indictment identifies four "cooperating witnesses," without naming them. As we previously explained, the detail contained in the federal complaint filed earlier this month indicated that someone was spilling the beans as to the specifics of the operation. As it turns out, there are at least four such someones.

The conspiracy began in early 2001 and continued through April 25, 2007, the day on which Vick's Surry County, Virginia property was first searched by local authorities.

In May 2001, Taylor identified the property on Moonlight Road in Surry County as a suitable location for housing and training pit bull terriers for fighting. Thereafter, Vick and the others purchased approximately 26 dogs from locations inside and outside of Virginia.

The "Bad Newz Kennels" were established by Vick and the others in early 2002, and at one point the group obtained shirts and headbands representing their affiliation with "Bad Newz Kennels." The Vick property on Moonlight Road in Surry County thereafter became the location of the venture.

"Testing" of the dogs began in February 2002. One of the dogs did not fight very well. It was shot to death with a .22 caliber pistol.

Additional dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions were executed in the summer of 2002, with three shot and one electrocuted.

Fighting also began in 2002, with a trip to North Carolina. Vick's Surry County property hosted its first dog fight in late 2002.

The process continued, with purses as high as $20,000.

In March 2003, Peace allegedly electrocuted a female pit bull that had lost a fight after consulting on the matter with Vick. Peace shot another losing dog that same month.

The most graphic misconduct allegedly occurred not long before the first search of the property. According to paragraph 83 of the indictment, Vick, Peace, and Phillips executed in April 2007 approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions, by "hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

In other words, in the same month in which Vick declared that he never goes to his Surry County property, and the same month in which he sat face-to-face with the Commissioner, Vick had (according to the indictment) participated in the killing of as many as eight dogs deemed unfit for fighting.

So what next? After digesting this information, the NFL and the Falcons will have some tough decisions to make. And we think that both organizations will soon be facing strenuous pressure from animal rights groups to take swift and decisive action against Mr. Vick."

Jul. 19th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
This bit bears repeating.

"According to paragraph 83 of the indictment, Vick, Peace, and Phillips executed in April 2007 approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions, by "hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground.""
Jul. 20th, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
This is depraved. I hope Vick and his associates, if guilty, are punished as severely as the law allows, and that dog-fighting circles are broken up and their members rounded up.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 20th, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
Having seen the photos of the kennel buildings built with his money, on his land, which he definitely visited, I'm really struggling to see how he couldn't have known.

He might get off with a not-proven on his actual involvement in the hands-on stuff, but I really hope he doesn't, because even if that bit of it isn't true there is just no way that he isn't a complete bastard who knew what was going on.

Jul. 20th, 2007 01:08 pm (UTC)
That's just horrible, I really hope they don't get away with it :-(
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )