What does the name Michael Vick bring to mind?
For most sports fans, it should be of a marquee NFL player. It should be of an athlete who has done so much at the quarterback position. It should be of one of the best scramblers in the NFL.
Vick is the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He’s a walking brand as his Falcons jerseys, Nike shoes and shirts are among the best-selling paraphernalia in sports.
Yet the average person does not think of those aspects first. Instead, they think of a man who allegedly was intimately involved in dog fighting. They will think of a man whose premises were the home of cruel acts to dogs.
Up until now, Vick has been portrayed as a player with a clean image. He stayed out of off-the-field troubles common among his peers. He went to college at Virginia Tech. He rose to stardom in the NFL in spite of modest beginnings in a public housing project in Virginia.
Nevertheless, Vick has stated recently in the media that he is not concerned about his image. He feels no matter where he goes people will always support Michael Vick.
Generally speaking, people who are indicted for a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. They have a chance of clearing their name and easing out of public disapproval.
However, that will be a tall order in Vick’s case. The general public has already condemned him. They think he is nothing more than another rich athlete who let fame and fortune get to his head.
People like PETA already think he should pay dearly with his job, as their public protests outside of Atlanta Falcons offices vividly show.
It’s hard to see Vick getting out of the situation with minimal damage. Already, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has prohibited Vick from participating in Falcons training camp. His trial is set to start on the 26 July and could possibly result in Vick’s absence from preseason games.
Goodell has been strict on player conduct this off season, already suspending three players for over 7 games. The precedent is already there for Vick to be another on that list.
However, Vick is far from finished. It’s doubtful that this case will ban him completely from the league. His brand is already so well-established its unlikely Nike will hinder itself by dropping its endorsement. Thus, Vick still has money and time coming to him to reshape his image.
Ultimately, public opinion is a sketchy creature. For now, it’s breathing fire down Vick’s neck for his struggles off the field. Maybe in ten years, public opinion will be the one to look at his struggles on the field and help soothe the burn of this case away.