Here are some of your responses to Mike Straka's last column about Michael Vick:
Cyndy G. writes: You choose to be in the public spotlight, you should be held to a higher public standard! This includes athletes, music/movie/TV celebrities and politicians. Remember, it was a choice!
J. Olsson writes: Let's see ... how many rapes, domestic abuse charges, restraining orders, murders, drunk driving deaths, drug overdoses, drug charges and jail sentences have been racked up by professional athletes over the years? And now the public is outraged over ties to illegal dog fights? Since when has the public ever done anything to send a message to professional athletes that they won't tolerate law-breaking, wife-beating, drug-abusing stars?
Vincent F. writes: Enough is enough with these untouchable, godlike, rich and powerful delinquents that are polluting our culture. When do we call these people what they are, a flat-out menace to society, especially our youth? Unfortunately, we can’t and save face at the same time, since our money has made them who they are and we’re not willing enough to speak out in numbers and flat-out boycott the sponsors who are paying them! Keep saying it like it is -- some of us are still interested in hearing the truth, not making phony idols for our kids to emulate so we can look up naively someday and say, “I wonder where they learned that from?!”
Sue F. writes: I couldn't agree with you more. One suggestion -- I'm a firm believe in an "eye for an eye." They should put Mr. Vick in the ring with one of his puppy dogs, arms tied behind his back, and see how well he fares!!! Or maybe he'd like to try the electrocution -- you could let him choose his sentence. Only in America!!
John C. writes: Right on about Michael Vick! Anyone who abuses animals has no conscience. Animal abuse can also lead to spousal and child abuse, among other things. Vick ought to be banned from the NFL for life! No team, anywhere, should be allowed to hire him.
Deb M. in Hampton, N.H.: Thank you Mike! I have been watching football for over 40 years -- I love the game! My Dad taught me all about the game when I was very young. Thank you for reminding Michael Vick and the other players that playing in the NFL is an honor and a privilege that carries responsibility with it. Cruelty by any name is still cruelty and it is not OK to shoot, maim, disrespect other living beings -- not your friends, your family or your animals.
Carl D. writes: Your're kidding? This man at worst ran dog fights at one of his many houses. I don't care if it was 101 Dalmatians. These dogs are property of "PEOPLE," and they are DOGS, and DOGS only. Not people, not DOG people, but just dogs. Next thing we know the DOGS will have lawyers. Someone please explain to me how this is "BIG NEWS"? DOG fighting has gone on for centuries. It's not like HUMANS are fighting to the death. Although humans are fighting to the death every day on the street, it draws much less attention and concern. Give the man a fine for charges on the dog fighting like he is JOE BLOW and put him on probation. If VICK restrains himself from DOG FIGHTS then he has shown the community that he is sorry for his role in any illegal activity. I don't know VICK, but I'll bet he is a pet lover.
JP writes: I just wanted to take the time out of my day to explain how thrilled I am about your recent article on Mr. Vick. You've hit the nail on the head. But in all reality there needs to be a major movement against immature athletes. This nonsensical and just barbaric "star power" junk is getting old. And I also agree that the sport organizations (MLB, NFL, etc.) need to step up as well. It is also their responsibility to serve harsher punishments.
Rick W. writes: To be "Fair and Balanced" Mike, Donaghy (the NBA ref) betting and fixing NBA games is far more a travesty ... I would like to see you put the same amount of energy and critique of this ref that you did with Mr. Vick. Donaghy was "thugging it up" also. What say you?
-- Rick, while I believe that what Donaghy did was wrong, it is hardly as big a travesty as participating and promoting the destruction of innocent animals. Are you kidding me?
John writes: The vain, insulated world these professional athletes and entertainment types live in is surrounded by handlers who would never condemn their behavior. One thing to keep in mind is celebrity is nothing without public support. The public makes one a celebrity, so we need to learn how to strip it just as quickly. If the NFL thinks a longtime football fan like myself will turn off the TV or not go to a game, they will take player conduct more seriously. If a movie star acts like an irresponsible a--, we can ruin their career by simply not seeing the film. Their status is weak and fleeting, just like their character. If the powers that be realize a personality is hurting their business enterprise, we won't hear much from that individual again. So in my mind, it's not really the league or the entertainment business itself we should expect to do the right thing. They will only follow the money trail. It's up to us, the consumers of this garbage, to say enough is enough. Once we're gone, so is the money, and subsequently so is the moron we're so desperately tired of having to endure.
Kati in Warner Robins, Ga.: AMEN! Thanks for finally saying it. I’m so sick of the media skirting around this issue as if there’s any doubt that he was involved. The evidence is all there. This is the most disgusting and disturbing thing I’ve ever read about a “celebrity." I am heartbroken both as a dog lover and a football lover. I will never watch Vick play again, even as a proud Georgia resident. I have never read a news story that made me so physically ill than when I read about what they’d done to those innocent animals. I hope that Vick is punished to the greatest extent the law will allow, and I think there’s a special place in hell for people like him. Thank you for your courage to speak the truth. It’s definitely the road less traveled these days.
Teresa T. writes: Mike, I hope Mr. Vick responds to your questions, but don't hold your breath. He had a chance recently to proclaim his innocence and he took the no comment for now route. He is a gutter rat pure and simple. The only difference is that he has money and fame. There is no way he did not know what was happening on his own property. If reincarnation is possible, I hope he comes back as a pit bull and everything he has done or allowed to be done to those poor dogs will be done to him. DISGUSTING INDIVIDUAL!!!!!
Mike F. in Edison, N.J.: While I also believe we coddle athletes and celebrities too much, Michael Vick should be entitled to his day in court. Let's not forget the Duke lacrosse case --sometimes people are charged with crimes they didn't commit. While things don't look good for Vick, he should have the opportunity to answer these charges in a court of law. If these charges can't be proven, he should be able to move on with his life. If these charges are proven, I hope he gets the maximum penalty, and if some NFL team has the lack of class to sign him, I won't be watching any game in which he participates.
Kathy in Mo.: Great piece -- you say what my family has long believed. Star athletes who are paraded in front of millions of children every year really do have a responsibility in return for the fantastic pay, endorsements, recognition, etc. they receive. It isn’t just the expectation that they will play and perform well -- lots of young athletes could fill that role -- but when they cross over into that “mega” status, when they accept the endorsements and step forward proclaiming their "greatness," then they also should accept the responsibility of being a model for these young children. I think one of the very best EXAMPLES is Tiger Woods.
Kathy in San Antonio: A huge GRRR!!! to Vanessa in Fieldale, Va., for whining about "little old ladies" asking her tall boyfriend to help them get things of top shelves in grocery stores. Vanessa, you silly, selfish twit, a lot of little old ladies are totally alone in the world. They have no one to help them in the grocery stores or gas stations or wherever. They have to rely on others, such as your boyfriend, who sounds like a much nicer person than you'll ever be. Do you think they enjoy having to ask others for help? Many feel ashamed or embarrassed at having to seek help; they think they're being a burden. Have you ever seen an elderly person in tears because of their waning abilities to help themselves? I have. It's heartbreaking. You are a brat. I can't wait until you need help and are made to feel ashamed by the next generation of selfish brats. GRRR!!!
Joannie M., an informed soccer hater writes: Will all of the soccer fans PLEASE STOP telling us the rest of us (the majority, by the way) that we would enjoy the sport, if only we'd watch the British Royal League or whatever. I've watched soccer. It's boring. It's my opinion. Doesn't mean I'm wrong. Doesn't mean you're wrong. We're not telling you to HATE soccer, so stop telling everyone that we don't know what we're talking about when we say we don't like it.
Chas in Venice, Fla. writes: You really sound like the guy (or child) that was never chosen for anyone’s team who now has a national microphone to finally spew his retort. I’m quite sure Vick speaks highly of you. All joking aside, let’s reflect for one minute. Do you really want to end a man’s career and disrupt his lively hood over the life of a “dog?”
It’s clear that PETA (and maybe you subscribe to them) sees a PR and fund-raising opportunity to raise Vick and dogs to the same level of Imus and controversial commentary. Once the media (remember the term crisis junkies?) realize the mass of Americans care or don’t care and refuse to “take it to the streets” or their local affiliate, it all becomes another Hilton express. Give me a few columns, I will shed light.