King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Vick enters his plea and apologizes. Was he sincere? Better question: Is it football season yet?


Salon Staff
August 28, 2007 8:00PM (UTC)

Was it just me? When Michael Vick said at his post-plea press conference Monday that he'd turned his life over to God, was I the only one who thought of that old joke about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac?

He stays up all night wondering if there's a dog, you see.

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Vick officially entered his guilty plea to a dogfighting conspiracy charge in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., thus bringing to a swift close the big tawdry tabloid sports story of the summer. Well, one of the many.

And right on time, too. College football starts up this weekend, so the long national sports nightmare that is the month of August is just about over. We can put away the scandals and felonies of summer now, Vick and his dogs, Barry Bonds and his BALCO-powered home run total, NBA ref Tim Donaghy and his gambling associates. We'll have football now, and baseball pennant races and playoffs, then basketball and hockey.

I'm not saying the tale of Vick's outrageous pattern of behavior over the last five years wouldn't have been a big deal had it not crested in August, that wasteland of Orioles-Devil Rays home-and-homes. I'm just saying that if the whole thing had to happen, it couldn't have burst at a better time.

My favorite part of the wall-to-wall Vick coverage on ESPN Monday was the earnest consideration of whether the Atlanta Falcons would be able to shut out the distraction of their quarterback's guilty plea earlier that day and have their heads in the game as they played the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night.

Get it? Their heads in the game. Nobody has their heads in an exhibition game except the dozen or so guys fighting for the last two or three roster spots, who have probably never even met the star quarterback if he's not in camp.

The Falcons managed to shrug off their troubles and beat the Bengals 24-19 in front of a crowd that, by the end, was likely smaller than some of the crowds that watched Vick's dogfights.

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Vick will be sentenced on Dec. 10, a day on which you'll hear the word "ironically" misused a lot on your TV, because the Falcons are playing again that night. Ironically enough, it'll be against the New Orleans Saints!

Prosecutors recommended a 12- to 18-month prison term as long as Vick, who as part of his plea deal will become an informant, is cooperative. But Judge Henry Hudson reminded Vick that the sentence was Hudson's alone to decide. The maximum is five years.

Vick began the process of rehabilitation by making a five-minute appearance before the press at his hotel following the hearing. He apologized, mincing no words and taking responsibility for his actions. He didn't say what they were, but the guilty plea is a matter of public record.

Is he really sorry or just sorry he got caught? That's always the question tossed at a guy who gets caught and says he's sorry. I've heard it tossed at Vick.

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I think it's an unfair question. What's wrong with being sorry you got caught? People do bad things sometimes, and in my experience, most of the time they don't apologize unless they get caught. And upon getting caught, it's kind of a natural reaction to be bummed about it.

It's an awfully high bar to expect all people who have done something they shouldn't have to turn themselves in, and hurl the old "sorry you got caught" bromide at them if they don't and then they get nabbed. I suppose we'll find out in a few years if Michael Vick was sincere Monday, or maybe we'll only find out if he was able to stay on the straight and narrow.

For the moment, though, I don't see any reason not to take "I take full responsibility for my actions ... I'm totally responsible" at face value. Whether any of us forgives him is our own decision, but just because we don't forgive him doesn't mean he's lying when he says he's sorry.

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Secret winter survival methods a mystery to Bills back? [PERMALINK]

Oh, give me a break.

There's this thing making the rounds about how running back Marshawn Lynch, the top draft pick of the Buffalo Bills, has not only never played in snow, he's never even seen it.

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Gasp! And he has to play in Buffalo? He'll surely melt!

Lynch, from Cal, is a native of Oakland, which isn't exactly tropical but it has palm trees and pleasant weather and no snow. CBS Sportsline columnist Clark Judge wonders how Lynch will handle it late in the season when Buffalo's weather does its thing.

"This isn't just rain, Marshawn," Judge writes. "It's sleet. And snow. And wind. And cold. Lots and lots of cold."

As a California native and Cal grad who, like my homeboy Lynch, moved to a colder climate, though not as cold as Buffalo, I can tell you how he's going to handle it. He's going to wear warmer clothes! Am I typing too fast?

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I wonder if some people just want to think people from other parts of the country don't have the sand to deal with whatever elements are native to their own home region. I don't feel that myself. I don't lord my earthquake survival ability over non-Californians, even though you're a bunch of wimps who'd turn to jelly at the first tremor while I laugh at a 7.0.

Or maybe it's just a California thing. Have you ever seen a column wondering if some kid from Pennsylvania can handle the heat and humidity now that he's been drafted by Miami?

He'll melt, won't he?

Here's my prediction about Marshawn Lynch: He'll succeed or fail in the NFL based on his running, catching and blocking ability and whether he can learn the Bills offense. The weather won't have anything to do with it.

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Not to bring up an unpleasant subject, but did California native O.J. Simpson ever play in snow before he got to Buffalo? How'd he do once he got there?

Previous column: Little League World Series

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