The League

Derede McAlpin
Crisis Litigator

Derede McAlpin

Vice President Levick Strategic Communications

Vick's the winner

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The Philadelphia Eagles recently announced Michael Vick as recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. Vick's controversial past has left critics wondering whether or not he is deserving of the award.

The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, an NFL-supported charity, is dedicated to recognizing courage in the League while improving the lives of abused and neglected children. The Foundation annually recognizes a player from each NFL team who, in the eyes of his teammates, exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage.

According to news reports, Eagles coach Andy Reid, said the vote was unanimous. He stated, "staying with Michael, Michael won the Ed Block Courage Award, which is voted on by his teammates. Congratulations go out to him for working to straighten his life out, to better himself as a human being and then some of the things that he went through. I'm not sure any of us can relate to that, but was a challenge and he's obviously very well respected and looked at by his teammates."

He further added, "I don't expect everybody to understand it, no, but I think it's a tribute when it's a slam dunk by his teammates voting him that. It was just a unanimous vote there. That's not something we as coaches, or [Head Athletic Trainer] Rick [Burkholder] as the trainer or anybody else promotes. You don't sit there and promote a player to win the award. It's picked by the players and only by the players."

The cornerstone of the American judicial system is the right to be tried by a jury of one's peers. Juries serve as the conscience of the community, determining innocence or guilt. The role is often described as a finder of fact.

Nowadays we may rarely know all of the facts. With a 24/7 news cycle and speed of the Internet, we often see a presumption of guilt in the "Court of Public Opinion" before the accused ever gets a day in court. And with professional athletes the problem is often magnified because the public is eagerly in search of truth and contrition when a high profile individual is accused of doing something wrong.

In this case, Michael Vick was convicted in the "Court of Public Opinion" before even getting a day in court. Following months of negative media coverage, he pleaded guilty to federal charges for dog fighting and was sent to prison for 18 months. The ordeal cost him a reputation, lucrative endorsement deals, and a coveted NFL salary with the Falcons.

We will not know all of the facts behind the dog fighting accusation because the case never went before a jury. The point is moot anyway because Vick served time and has now paid off his debt to society. In the eyes of a "jury" of Vick's peers, this award was well deserved - unanimous verdict.

By Derede McAlpin  |  December 25, 2009; 12:45 PM ET  | Category:  Michael Vick , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I have no feelings for Anyone who is cruel or abuses any Animal or Child. he did it because he wanted too, he made that choice and the only reason he now says he is sorry is because he was caught? That means NOTHING, if he had not been caught he would probably still be doing it. He is Not a Role Model for Human or Animal..The choice he made to Hurt and destory a animal was because he Wanted too. in my way of thinking he has used Life to Hurt and destory.

Posted by: icewater1 | December 25, 2009 2:12 PM

Are you kidding? "We don't know.."!?)The man admitted to years of unspeakable acts of cruelty to animals - described in detail in his own testimony. Guilty. He should have been banned from the sport for life. "Courage" award?...what a farce! Maybe the courage to help a franchise win games, increase revenue for owners, and help teammates reach the playoffs. The channel changes at the first mention of his name. The Eagles, the NFL, (their PR agents) and Ms. McAlpin should be ashamed.

Posted by: DrScott33 | December 25, 2009 2:47 PM

Just read the byline more closely. Ms. McAlpin is the PR agent - a paid shill. Now the Post should be added to the list of shame. Is this the state of journalism today?

Posted by: DrScott33 | December 25, 2009 2:53 PM

Though I agree that Vick should be rewarded for turning his life around I find Ms McAlpin's comments suggesting Vick did not get a "fair hearing" as delusional. Only a moron or a complete hypocrit would make such a claim. I suppose she think's O.J. is inncocent and Bill didn't actually inhale.

Regarding the comments made by the animal lovers: Your claims about Vick's motives after being released from jail appear to be based on your extreme prejudices, as they are not supported with any facts.

I like animals but I do not put them above humans on the evolutionary scale. You seem to.

Posted by: ddutcher1 | December 26, 2009 5:45 AM

ddutcher1: "I like animals but I do not put them above humans on the evolutionary scale. You seem to."

No, we animal-lovers don't. We do, however, recognize animals (especially pets) as creatures who depend upon the kindness of others for their health and well-being. Science has proven, and continues to prove, that animals--especially other mammals--can experience mental and emotional anguish, along with trust, compassion, and joy. When someone deliberately and repeatedly tortures and maims numerous other sentient beings while also paying others to do so, makes a profit off of it, and (likely) gets some sort of perverted pleasure from it, then that's without any doubt a moral failing.

It's egotistical to claim that such actions are at all excused by the fact that homo sapiens have moved up the food chain and obtained a great deal of power over other animals. (Yes--humans are indeed animals.) In fact, that actually obligates any legal adult of any integrity at all to treat them better than Vick and his stooges ever did.

As for doubting his sincerity when he says he's sorry and wants to atone for his actions, you don't have to be a psychic to conclude that he's probably only/mostly sorry that he was caught. I try to see the best in everyone and used to be a fan of his, so I'm not eager to see him in such a light, but he leaves me little choice.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | December 26, 2009 1:18 PM

Science has proven, and continues to prove, that animals--especially other mammals--can experience mental and emotional anguish, along with trust, compassion, and joy.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Science conducted by animal ethicist' who are trying to support an agenda. I used to fall for this crap until I found that much of this reserach has yet to be duplicated by anyone other than the vested interests.

Even if this research were true, animals should not be considered deserving of equal or semi equal status as humans.

Posted by: moebius22 | December 26, 2009 8:11 PM

Courage???

Necessity borne of bankruptcy and crime, with some remaining skills to trade on. Proves the character of those on the field as well. Somewhere, Gale Sayers shakes his head, in a pathetic way, wondering what ever became of real courage.

This is honestly disgusting. I don't begrudge the man a chance to earn his living. I do begrudge hypocrisy such as this. Too much money in the game has destroyed it.

Posted by: drc231 | December 26, 2009 8:17 PM

I won't violate my own rule and root for Vick to get injured. But there's no way he should be in football. The man is a slimeball and the same goes for anyone who supports or defends him.

Posted by: dgainor | December 26, 2009 10:58 PM

sooooo where were all these comments when Ray Lewis obstructed justice in the MURDER OF A HUMAN BEING? But we're talking about dogs! Not humans, dogs, man!

Posted by: ZeroHero0 | December 27, 2009 2:22 AM

Zerohero: comments about the murder of a human being are only as easy to find as publicity of the crime itself. Duh.

Unfortunately (and this is coming from an animal lover, you know) the murder of ANYONE--homo sapiens or not--is far too common, and the NFL's acceptance--even embracement--of such accused felons as Lewis and convicted felons as Vick is disgusting.

If you're paying any attention--and clearly you're not--then you'd know that folks like me care about people just as much as animals.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | December 27, 2009 6:41 AM

Moebius: there's more than enough research--conducted by many different scientists seeking understanding of mammalian brains for many different purposes--to prove that other animals do indeed feel some of the same emotions as we do.

The findings by psychologists and animal behavior researchers who have nothing to lose by drawing one conclusion over another are increasingly concurrent. Neurologists, many of whom (I know) are some of the most objective PhDs of all, can and do study and scrutinize the validity of any other scientists' work better than you can tie your own shoes. They have perhaps the most concrete evidence--via EEGs, neurochemistry, and so on--that the same areas of the brain that are active when humans experience emotion are also similarly active in other mammals. The nature of these responses is quite clearly indicated via analyses of many complicated brainwave patterns that are nonetheless readily read and understood by these highly intelligent professionals. The behavioral psychology findings so often corroborate with cognitive psychology conclusions and are THEN found to concur with the quantitative and qualitative results of neurological research. If you know squat about scientific method, you'd see that your question of legitimate science is weak.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | December 27, 2009 6:46 AM

Moebius, I'd also like to add that if you still think that compassion for animals' emotional health begins with and ends with "bleeding hearts," you're not aware of the fact that some of those who also understand and benefit from this knowledge are actually among the most accomplished experts in the field of animal husbandry. Their work goes beyond that of psychology and into the engineering and operation of the machinery used in, among others, the beef industry and their slaughter houses. How does your claim of "vested interests" leading to bias fare now?

Yes, there are many pet owners who get choked up when they see dogs, cats, and other animals showing signs of pain, depression, affection and emotional contentment. There are also people like you who judge more compassionate humans as wimps and fools to be heckled and even despised. You're dismissing the well-being of animals because you see them as far inferior to humans...who can be defined as more developed exactly because we DO have the capacity to feel more complex emotions.

Dispassionate chest-thumpers like you rarely fail to prove yourselves as ignorant playground bullies who pride themselves on subduing others. You're unable to understand that people like me might actually be more aware of evolutionary hierarchy than you. Pay attention now: roughly 99% of animal rights supporters are simply saying that other creatures deserve better treatment than some, like Vick, dole out like car compacters crushing aluminum.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | December 27, 2009 6:50 AM

Please excuse me; one more thing.

It is true that some theories regarding animal emotions are questionable. However, the scientific debates most often revolve around the concept of emotional cognizance, not the experience/existence of emotions in the first place. The model of the triune brain concerning the functions of a brain's anatomy says no, though animals can feel basic emotions, they aren't aware of them exactly the same way humans are. Many animal scientists have moved beyond the question of "do animals have feelings" to an even deeper study of how those very real emotions operate. While some jiffy-pop critics out there are busy insisting that the earth is flat, those who actually know something about it are sailing the seas and updating the maps.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | December 27, 2009 7:48 AM

"We will not know all the facts behind the dog fighting accusation because the case never went before the jury"

Excuse me Dedere , but the facts are clearly know as they were clearly stated in the documents that Mr. Vick pleaded guilty to in open court before a judge.

Concerning Mr. Vick's teammates choice.
It just unfortunately reflects the level of their core values and integrity . Perhaps they also would now give Tiger Woods the same award after his impending divorce.

One thing is for certain..their image of courage is a bit different from what the award outlines in its wording.

Posted by: travisg2 | December 27, 2009 11:14 AM

Ed Block is turning over in his grave. The management of the eagles should be ashamed.

Posted by: MILWI | December 27, 2009 5:12 PM

i find all of the harping about vick, rejoining the nfl and/or winning this award rather interesting... peta whines about the animals (yes, i love animals too, have two of my own), some of the "totally" disgusted are meat eaters, others are hunters and still others worship this country, which was established on the lives/deaths of people of color, yet never paid a dime for the lives sacrified....vick has paid the price set by the "just us" system and yet some want more....interesting.... very interesting

Posted by: ohthehypocricee | December 27, 2009 7:19 PM

This was an "in-house award" that was subscribed to and felt good about it by the players.... " Hey man, ya been through what ya' been through and I admire how ya' handle it... Now it ain't over you still got some things to deal with. I got ya' back!

Thats what that award could signify. He is not deemed guiltless nor is his sentence extended. He's allowed his dignity with encouragement and expectations that he will continue what he been doin'.

Posted by: tedwordlaw | December 27, 2009 7:53 PM

The man got hired by the Philly management; anyone on the team who is unable to respect him would still be smart to at least put on a good show. So, if enough of your teammates are going to vote in his favor, those who don't are going to get noticed in a big, big way. Would you rather make a relatively futile statement against him, or in favor of "team spirit," knowing that you still have to play with these guys for the next few years (if you're lucky)?

I can think of a few co-workers of my own who don't/didn't deserve the respect you'd give a cockroach, but I still had to treat them with professional courtesy.

I feel sorry for the men who would prefer not to work with Vick.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | December 27, 2009 8:17 PM

ohthehypocricee said: "... I love animals and own two of them ..." -- One of the them is obviously Vick. I love those people who dismiss real animal lovers' work by first starting off with "I am an animal lover myself, ..." as if that will make their sorry statements any more believable. Different animal activist groups obviously have somewhat different philosophies and therefore do things somewhat differently (and some members are even meat eaters) but all have to deal with people like you who just blindly sees a race issue in Vick's case and refuses to see otherwise.

Posted by: KT11 | December 27, 2009 8:21 PM

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