Michael Vick selling, Piers Morgan buying

by Jim Longworth

Just when I thought I was finally free from writing about the NFL’s star dog-killer, Michael Vick has written a new book titled Finally Free. How’s that for irony?

Vick launched his publicity tour for the book with an appearance on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” show, where host and guest teamed up to justify Mad Dog Michael’s horrendous crimes. The love fest focused mainly on Vick’s childhood, and how growing up in a poor neighborhood was responsible for his transgressions as an adult. Vick told Morgan,”Growing up, I heard gunfire in my neighborhood every single night…. It made it seem like violence is right…. You start to believe that there’s no consequence to it.”

Well boo freakin’ hoo Michael! I guess every little boy who grows up in a bad neighborhood has a free pass to torture and murder dogs. Speaking of which, here’s what Vick told Piers about his first exposure to dog fighting: “I always had a passion for animals, and I always had a dog, and I took care of it on my very own. But the day I saw my first dog fight, something changed. I didn’t know dogs could act that way. I fell into a trap.” Poor Michael. Poor Piers. If anyone had fallen into a trap, it was Morgan.

The Brit host then helped Michael’s case by remarking on QB7’s football fortune as an excuse for bad behavior.

Morgan: $130 million dollars would change anybody, wouldn’t it?

Vick: I let money change me, and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Okay, so let me try and understand this. First, Piers and Michael told us that being poor made him kill dogs. Then they said that being wealthy made him kill dogs. Makes perfect sense to me.

Not once during the interview did Morgan challenge Vick to be accountable for his crimes. Instead, the closest thing Piers came to asking a real questions was, “How can you be a dog lover, and also enjoy killing dogs?” Vick’s response? “I was in love with competition.”

Okay, so it wasn’t poverty or wealth that forced Vick to murder dogs, it was his competitive spirit. What’s next, “The devil made me do it”?

The fact is that Vick is a disingenuous, chronic liar who always has an ulterior motive and plenty of people around to enable his bad behavior.

He lied to a judge and was still sentenced to only half of the jail time he should have received. He lied to the NFL commissioner, and not only did he get reinstated to the league, but ended up richer than ever before. Vick even managed to snow the Humane Society president who, immediately after receiving a generous cash gift from the Philadelphia Eagles, came out in praise of Michael’s promise to speak to school groups.

And, speaking of ulterior motives, Vick’s new book (which is supposed to make him a sympathetic figure) was released the same month that his court-ordered, three-year ban on owning a dog expired. Michael had already laid the groundwork for his post-ban plans. In December of 2010, Vick told NBC News, “I would love to get another dog.” That’s just great. Why don’t we also ask the courts if Jerry Sandusky can have conjugal visits with little boys.

The truth is that Vick doesn’t love dogs, he just wants us to think he loves dogs. Case in point, following a February 2011 event in Dallas in which Vick had been honored, journalist Richard Hunter confronted the Eagles star. With TV cameras long gone, Hunter approached Vick and told him that he had adopted one of the dogs that Michael once tortured. Hunter just wanted to let Vick know that Mel the dog was doing fine, and to show him a photo of the rehabilitated pet. But Vick ignored Hunter’s repeated overtures, and just walked away from the journalist. Vick’s bodyguard then pushed Hunter away, saying, “Hey, we don’t care about the dogs.”

It was an interesting encounter considering that a year earlier, Vick was asked what the Michael Vick of 2010 would have said to the Michael Vick of 2006. Vick replied, “The Vick of 2006 wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. The old Mike would probably just walk away.” Well, Michael still walks away, and he’s still the “Old Mike.”

According to Vick, the purpose of his new book is to get people to understand where he came from. “It’s all about not making the same mistake twice,” Vick told Morgan. In truth, though, Michael is still just blaming everyone and everything but himself for the heinous things he did, and good old Piers bought into the whole act. Said Morgan, “This book is a great story of a man learning his lesson.”

At the conclusion of his sham show, a giddy Morgan thanked Michael, saying, “You helped me win a hundred pounds on a bet I had with Oprah Winfrey, that I would be able to interview you before she did!” How fitting that Vick is now the center of another gambling ring, only this time the competitors were betting on a real dog.

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11am on WMYV (cable channel 15).