Philadelphia Eagles third string quarterback Michael Vick has drawn protests from animal rights groups around the country this fall, and San Diego was no exception. Members of the San Rafael-based In Defense of Animals staged a small demonstration at Dog Beach on Sunday and police radio reports from Qualcomm Stadium indicated that protesters were picketing entrances to the Chargers-Eagles match up on Sunday.
The Dog Beach protesters were urging the National Football League to include dogfighting and cockfighting in the “criminal offense” section of its Personal Conduct Policy. Vick was convicted on charges stemming from his involvement in a Virginia based dogfighting organization, dropped from the roster for the Atlanta Falcons and served 20 months in prison. A recent Court of Appeals decision will allow Vick to retain some of the earnings that were thought to have been forfeited in that case.
A statement released by In Defense of Animals on Sunday, outlined the group’s position on Vick:
IDA has always been a strong supporter of civil liberties, and from that perspective, a Constitutional perspective, we need to accept that once any criminal has done his/her time, they need to be allowed the opportunity to return to society and contract for their labor. To deny any criminal that right would be a danger to all of our rights. No matter how despicable Michael Vick’s crimes were, and they were indeed despicable, he does retain the right to get a job once released from prison.
It is also the right of any potential employer to choose whether or not Vick is appropriate for the job for which he’s applying. An NFL quarterback is, rightly or wrongly, a representative of a city, and a role model for youth. The Philadelphia Eagles have made the decision that Vick can be an honorable of Philadelphia, as well as a positive role model for young people. We disagree with that judgment.
The crowd at Dog Beach on Sunday was sparse, with demonstrators being out numbered by media people at times. One cameraman, hoping to gain an action shot, jokingly offered $20 to a passerby if she could get her dog to urinate on a “Vick piss stick” being sold by IDA at the event.
I doubt that any of these reporters found the time to accurately report IDA’s position. Oh, yeah. The Chargers held off a fourth quarter comeback by the Eagles to win, 31-23. Vick was not a factor in the game.