After the dust settles, we may actually want to thank Michael Vick

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 26, 2007

It’s weeks like this one that make it difficult to find an allegiance with professional sports.

All three major sports leagues are immersed in some level of scandal. Only the National Hockey League has had a quiet offseason, but then again the NHL has a quiet in-season as well.

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Michael Vick has been told to stay away from the start of Atlanta Falcons training camp as he faces a federal indictment alleging a long history of dogfighting.

As the indictment came out last week, the knee-jerk reaction was to kick him out of the league and ban him from public view for the rest of his life.

In actuality, we may soon look back on the soon-to-be-former Atlanta quarterback and thank him. We’ll thank him for galvanizing a country over some topic. We can’t agree on taxes, the war, spending or Medicare, but when the horrific details surfaced in the dogfighting indictment, Americans lost all party affiliations and became the anti-Vick party.

Whether he gets convicted or not, Vick’s reputation is gone. Who would risk having him as a team leader knowing that forever linked to him will be the image of brutality to man’s best friend? When’s the last time we saw O.J. Simpson doing a car commercial?

Vick will be the sacrificial star that shed such a bright light on the world of dogfighting. Vick, unknowingly, could help finally put a stop to a gambling act in which two dogs rip each other apart.

In baseball, Barry Bonds inevitably will break Hank Aaron’s career home run record of 755. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has said he will attend as many Bonds’ games as he can.

At the rate Bonds is hitting home runs this year, belting three more could take months. One can only hope that he just breaks the record and disappears so we won’t have to think about him anymore.

As sure as Vick will be linked to dogfighting forever, Bonds will be linked to a national debate on steroid use, even though he has never admitted to doing anything wrong. He won’t let himself admit that.

The most shocking of all, in terms of straight sports landscape, is the alleged fixing of games by NBA referee Tim Donaghy.

If he fixed games for whatever reason, the reputation of the league that is still super popular will be stained for many, many years. Every time a questionable call is made, players, coaches and fans will think of Donaghy. The entire referee situation is akin to a &#8220Sopranos” episode.

As most scandals do, these eventually will slip into our subconscious. Records will fall again and the NBA will police its referees.

As far as Vick goes, well, sometimes someone has to, willingly or unwillingly, be put up for sacrifice for the better good. And when dogfighting finally ends (we hope), maybe we can give Vick a thank you.

If we can find him.