The League

Jason Maloni
Crisis Communications Expert

Jason Maloni

Senior Vice President with
Levick Strategic Communications
and Chair of the firm's Sports & Entertainment Practice.

Who Vouches for This Man?


Surrogates are a key element of any branding, or rebranding, campaign. Surrogates, also known as third party allies or validators, are credible individuals or organizations with impeccable credentials who vouch for a CEO, celebrity, lawmaker or other individuals whose actions are being scrutinized.

When a surrogate like Tony Dungy stands in front of the cameras and speaks on behalf of someone like Michael Vick, Dungy's words put people at ease, remove doubt and provide confidence.

At first glance, Dungy and Vick are an unlikely match. Dungy is in his mid-50's and has earned widespread respect for his unflappable character and strong personal and moral conviction. Michael Vick, on the other hand, is widely seen as having the potential to be one of the greatest athletes ever to grace the gridiron but also as someone who has largely squandered his opportunities and gifts by participating in heinous crimes.

Still, Tony Dungy has emerged as Vick's greatest and most outspoken ally.

Upon closer inspection, the two may not be the odd couple that they are on paper. Dungy still enjoys working with young athletes and has long been passionate about ministering to young people. For a time, he considered leaving coaching to do just that. Vick was someone who saw little of his father when growing up in Virginia. Just the type of kid Tony Dungy loves to help.

Many questions remain unanswered. Has Michael really changed? Are five NFL teams really speaking with him as you read this (for what it's worth, my guess is its less than that and one of those candidates might only want Vick to keep him from a division rival).

One thing remains certain: Michael Vick needs to grow the number of people who trust him as Tony Dungy does. Vick may be signed by a team and he may even see him playing time this year. But we're a long way from Vick being the face of a football team as he was with the Atlanta Falcons.

Tony Dungy is a good friend to have but that's not the same thing as an owner, standing in front of a bank of snapping cameras, with his hand out saying "I trust you."

By Jason Maloni  |  August 11, 2009; 12:56 PM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons , Crime , Michael Vick , NFL , Quarterbacks , Race , Roger Goodell , Tony Dungy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Dungy or Young Jeezy? | Next: Ban Donte' For Life


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Trust has to be earned by all of us, some a lot more than others but I believe, if given the chance, Mike Vick will earn that trust and more.

Posted by: OHREALLYNOW | August 11, 2009 1:54 PM

This guy is an ex-con, and he needs a job, or he'll just go back to a life of crime.
I learned this from watching TV.

President Obama should extend a hand to a brother, and name him the "Pet Czar," or perhaps the "Dog Czar," and he would be the advocate for all the country's pets, or perhaps just the dogs. As you know, a czar position requires no congressional approval, it pays pretty good, and your boss is the Bama. Pretty neat gig for someone working their way back into society.

Some might say that it would be inappropriate for a convicted felon to be working at the White House, but I say, hey, the "Green Jobs" Czar is an admitted communist, so why not help a brother out?

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | August 11, 2009 4:51 PM

In my job, if I have a felony conviction I can no longer perform and will be fired. Those with prior felonies are not eligible for hiring.

However, if people want to send their hard earned cash (and lots of it) to a guy who treats sentient beings like garbage and who knew his actions were illegal, then let them. Perhaps the Republicans should hire Vick. He'd be great in Iraq or Gitmo. He could stage suspected terrorist prisoner death matches. How much fun would that be?

Posted by: arancia12 | August 12, 2009 6:24 AM

Is there anyway you can block Atlanta from receiving media coverage (including blogs) of Michael Vick? You see, unlike the rest of the country, we have moved on. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Posted by: rcagle343 | August 12, 2009 11:48 AM

...Perhaps the Republicans should hire Vick. He'd be great in Iraq or Gitmo. He could stage suspected terrorist prisoner death matches. How much fun would that be?
Posted by: arancia12 | August 12, 2009 6:24 AM
Not sure what this has to do with politics, but I bet it just burns you up that Vick is African American and not some Caucasian redneck and you can't stereotype him for a member of GOP.

Posted by: Chuckled | August 12, 2009 11:52 AM

I have lost all respect for Tony Dungee. Vick hung and burned live animals! Thats not a "mistake"! Thats the work of a very sick man, not just a criminal who "served his time". He has no right to be in the NFL.

Depraved criminals such as child molesters, serial rapists and "LIVE ANIMAL BURNERS" DO NOT DESERVE TO BE ROLE MODELS FOR OUR CHILDREN!

The most disgusting part are the knuckle heads defending him as though he is a victim. I doubt if any major corporation other then the NFL would hire a "DOG BURNER"!

I can hardly wait for Vick to show up at Fed Ex!

Posted by: donmac1 | August 12, 2009 1:11 PM

Can anyone imagine discovering their son doing this, or husband , or is so mentally sick I am totally shocked at the responses. It has absolutely nothing to do with PETA or football , it is just inhumane and and sick. People are not this cruel unless they are seriously disturbed....again, if it were your son or brother, would you be worried about his state of mind...this has nothing to do with football, sports, the right to return to work is just frightening and in my humble opinion I believe any team who supports him has failed whether they win or lose
not an animal rights activist just normal

Posted by: ellenw1 | August 12, 2009 5:14 PM

Dungy isn't the saint people paint him out to be and it's funny how media hacks perpetuate that myth.

Vick does have a right to earn back that trust to the many people he betrayed. But playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. Sure he can be taught by his high priced lawyer how to respond to questions in 60 Minutes but the guy just doesn't seem to get it.

There are mistakes and there are extreme anti-social behaviors that go on for, say seven years. He stopped his gambling and torture only because he was caught. Even his recent quote of passing responsibility to others who influenced him shows the guy still clearly doesn't get "it."

I'm willing to let Vick demonstrate he can function in society but will never support any team who might consider employing this (current) lowlife who threw his gifts away.

It appears that other people who have jobs and buy NFL related products agree with me.

Posted by: Leofwine | August 12, 2009 6:14 PM

Yeah right!

Get this guy back to work. He needs the money so he can buy more dogs to kill in assorted ways.

Help him to stay in practice so he can graduate to PEOPLE.





Posted by: Rubiconski | August 13, 2009 5:52 AM

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