Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vick Launches Pro-Dog Campaign

On Tuesday, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of sponsoring a vicious dogfighting operation. Three other defendants were named in the indictment, which alleges that dogs were trained and fought to the death at a property owned by Vick in Surry County, Virginia. Vick may be elusive inside the Georgia Dome, but shaking free of prosecutors and a dog-loving public is another matter. With those concerns in mind, the Falcons star has taken immediate action to enhance his image by launching an aggressive pro-dog public relations campaign.

The first step in his pro-dog efforts will surely be popular in Atlanta, as he expressed his love for the Georgia Bulldogs. Vick stated that he has no ill will toward UGA for beating his Virginia Tech Hokies in last year’s Chik-Fil-A Bowl. He added that he is excited to be a mentor to third-string Atlanta quarterback D.J. Shockley, a former Bulldog. Vick also expressed his relief that SEC member Mississippi State is not on Georgia’s schedule this fall, since he can’t stand to see fellow Bulldogs hurting each other. Vick even suggested a humane alteration to Sanford Stadium’s signature cheer of “Go Dawgs! Sic ‘Em! Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!” Upon kickoff in Athens, he urges UGA fans to yell, “Go Dawgs! Treat your adversary with love and respect! Because I believe all Dawgs should be kind to their fellow creatures!”

The quarterback also enlisted his pro-dog policy to try to upgrade his receiving corps. Many have noted that Vick has been figuratively stuck with a bunch of dogs at wide receiver. In an attempt to turn around the situation, Vick lobbied for owner Arthur Blank to literally sign some canines to play wideout. At the top of his wish list were Snoopy, the most athletic member of Peanuts, as well as Buddy, the multi-sport star of the Air Bud movies. Vick conspicuously did not mention University of Tennessee mascot Smokey. Reportedly, the Peerless Price experience soured him on Volunteer receivers.

Vick emphasized that greater interaction with dogs would help his team toward its ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl championship. For inspiration, he referenced an Atlanta team that did reach the pinnacle. The 1995 Atlanta Braves won the World Series thanks to Cy Young Award winner Greg “Mad Dog” Maddux, as well as Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff. That entire 1995 season showed what dogs could accomplish on the field. Orel “Bulldog” Hershiser pitched for the American League champion Cleveland Indians, and Mo “Hit Dog” Vaughn was the AL MVP. Vick acknowledged that Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson could not win a championship in Atlanta, but as he remarked, “Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha couldn’t lead the Hawks to a title!”

The Falcon standout even plans to join dogs in sports other than football. Drawing inspiration from Chad Johnson’s win against a horse, Vick will put his speed on the line in a friendly race against a champion greyhound. Later, he’ll join forces with a team of huskies to compete in the Iditarod. Vick was not concerned about his lack of experience in the event. Indeed, he has proven that he can win as an underdog (pun intended) in a cold weather environment, having won a playoff game at Lambeau Field.

Vick also used his platform to encourage ESPN to pay more attention to dogs in sports. He was enthusiastic about the Worldwide Leader’s coverage of the Westminster Dog Show. In the next edition, Vick plans to enter his infectious Chihuahua named Ron, whom he purchased in Mexico. Although Ron does not have the statistics of a prototypical Westminster competitor, Vick feels that the dog’s freakish athleticism supersedes traditional stats and will cause serious matchup problems for his competitors. Vick did take ESPN to task for excluding canines from the World Series of Poker. As he remarked, “Come on, we all know dogs can play poker. Those paintings don’t lie!”

The charges against Vick are quite serious, and it remains to be seen what effect his pro-dog campaign will have. However, it cannot be argued that athletes and dogs are better off when they work together. That approach worked wonders for Scooby-Doo and the Harlem Globetrotters.