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Published: Tuesday, 8/28/2007

Vick apology belies heart but reflects indigent soul

Apologizing for unforgivable acts, pro football star Michael Vick yesterday said he spoke to us all "from the heart."

Hmmm. That's strange.

Tell me, do we generally think of anyone who bloodies and even kills dogs for amusement as someone with any heart whatsoever?

The highest-paid man in National Football League history took pains to apologize at a take-no-questions news conference he gave after pleading guilty in a federal courthouse in Virginia to dogfighting.

("Dogfighting." The words themselves sound almost benign, not much worse than dogs snarling and barking while crossing paths at the park. But the 19-page federal indictment practically drips with the blood of dogs that were systematically - there's just no other word for it - tortured. "Dogfighting" is too bloodless and sterile a phrase for the gruesome things Michael Vick did to defenseless animals.)

But the Atlanta Falcon's marquee quarterback stood somber before the media - blinking repeatedly, occasionally licking his lips - and sounded suitably contrite. His PR handlers must be proud, especially of their client's aw-shucks beginning:

"For most of my life, I've been a football player, not a public speaker, so, you know, I really don't know, you know, how to say what I really want to say."

I dunno about that. From the sound of it, Vick knew exactly what he wanted to say - and to whom.

He apologized first of all to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, then went on down the line to his coach and teammates.

No apologies to any dogs, mind you.

No, not so much as a whisper of remorse for the cruel things that he did to those dogs.

"I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts and, you know, what I did was, what I did was very immature, so that means I need to grow up."

When I think "immature," I think of, say, teens willfully breaking curfew, or maybe little kids calling each other rude names. That's immature.

But bankrolling an operation that pits dog against dog to the bitter, bloody end? And then (pick any: all apply) drowning, hanging, electrocuting, and/or body slamming losing dogs? Way beyond the territory of "immature."

''It's just I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions."

The guy makes it all sound like something from an ABC After School special. Did he make the mistake of going out for pizza with friends before doing his homework? Wow! What bad judgment he showed, what a bad decision that was...

"Dogfighting is a terrible thing, and I did reject it."

It's just such a shame he didn't reject it - and, oh yeah, get around to finding Jesus - BEFORE he spent six whole years torturing animals.

Dogfighting is never a simple "mistake" people make, it's not any kind of "Ooops!"

And to regard it as a "terrible thing" is never a sudden revelation. To take part in dogfighting requires a colossal lack of empathy with other sentient beings.

Michael Vick may be worth millions, but it takes an impoverished soul to do what he did.



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