From an Ex-Philadelphia Eagles Fan

Hi there. Pleased to meet you. I used to be a Philadelphia Eagles fan, before Thursday night. I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania — Lancaster County, to be exact — and I still live there today.

As someone who will be 32 in a few weeks, I can’t be called a young, fair-weather fan who can only remember the Andy Reid Era. Heck, my first memories of the team stem from the positively godawful Marion Campbell Era, which seemed bad at the time until the Rich Kotite Era came along.

The point is, I’ve followed the Eagles, and all of Philadelphia’s sports teams, through quite a lot, and I always believed that I always would, until that terrible, stupid Thursday, and its extraordinary consequences. In a move that has baffled just about everybody, the Eagles signed dog-torturer and dog-murderer Michael Vick to a two year contract.

I can’t follow this team any more. Period.

I know there are those who say that everyone deserves a second chance and that, yes, the NFL has in the past reinstated all kinds of crooks, murderers, and all-around scumbags back into its ranks, so Michael Vick certainly deserves a second chance.

I believe those people are, in fact, correct. My beef stems from the fact that it was the Philadelphia Eagles, of all teams, that signed him.

“Hang on for a second,” you might say to me, “so you’re just some hypocritical jerk who was okay with Vick rejoining the NFL as long as it wasn’t with your team?”

That isn’t what I’m saying. What I am saying is that out of all the clubs in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles, which just happens to be the team I rooted for all my life, was the absolute worst possible one to sign Vick. The reason for that is something you may not be aware of unless you’re from southeastern Pennsylvania.

You see, Pennsylvania has a problem. Southeastern Pennsylvania especially, where a huge chunk of the Eagles’ fan base dwells, and my home of Lancaster County in particular, has a gigantic problem: just Google the term “Puppy Mills” and you’ll start to see what I mean.

But don’t take my word alone for it. Here’s Nightline’s:

And, of course, here’s part of Oprah’s well-known expose on the subject:

As abysmal as conditions in dog breeding kennels have historically been around here, over the last several years we have begun to make some (still all too small) progress toward cleaning them up. A lot of southeastern Pennsylvania residents, among them many, many Eagles fans, have fought long and hard to make that happen.

While it would have been seen as bad by some fans of any team for Vick to have landed in their city, it is far, far worse for him to have ended up in Philadelphia, given the region’s massive problems with the treatment of dogs in breeding kennels.

We have plenty of farmers around here who breed dogs on the side in horrendous conditions, and who see nothing wrong with doing things like shooting all of them when they’re ordered to simply repair a kennel and get veterinary care.

Consequently, the Eagles’ signing of Michael Vick, who, among other things, hung, electrocuted, and drowned dogs pretty much for the hell of it, carries a terrible symbolism: it is huge slap in the face to everyone who has worked so hard for the elimination of puppy mills around here, and it is absolutely unforgivable.

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6 Responses to “From an Ex-Philadelphia Eagles Fan”

  1. TD Says:

    Are you concerned for the welfare of animals or , like PETA, just looking for enemies? Anyone concerned for animal welfare should be thrilled about the Michael Vick situation.

    -An animal abuse ring was identified and stopped.

    -A number of animal abusers were caught and punished – in Vick’s case to the tune of about $70 million dollars in lost income and 2 years of his freedom.

    -Due to Vick’s fame, the issue of animal abuse has become part of the American conversation, maybe more than ever before, for years.

    -In Vick, the issue now has a high profile convert that reaches past the echo chamber of activists. Vick is working with the Humane Society including speaking to inner-city children – precisely the same kind of environment in which he was raised where dog fighting was and is a common part of the culture.

    Identification, Punishment, Conversion, and Changed Behavior. By any standard this is a great “Win” for animal rights and Vick should be welcomed back into decent society with responsibilities – unless one is looking for enemies, rather than achieving positive change.

    I know why PETA is protesting. An enemy to them means political power and big money. If the reason were other, they would have found homes for more than just 7 of the 2,126 cats and dogs they took in during last year – killing the other 2,119 animals, much less the 21,339 they killed over the last decade.

    Fine, they are a political organization using the animal rights issue as their ticket but I can only assume you are sincere so I must ask…

    Why are you looking for enemies in success stories?

  2. Tom Soles Says:

    PETA and Vick belong in the same pen.

  3. Torrey Says:

    Go Bears!

  4. Got Dog Kennels Says:

    Very interesting perspective

  5. Fred Says:

    Sorry but this post is just silly. Your position is clearly hypocritical despite your attempt to paint it as internally consistent. Why stop supporting a team that is simply giving an ex-con the second chance that your own post states he deserves? If it is moral for some random team to give Vick that second chance, it is also moral for the Eagles to do so. In fact one could make a good argument that Vick coming to Philly might positively impact the exact dog breeding problem that you claim is the basis for turning away from the Eagles. As a lifelong Eagles fan, I have concerns about them signing Vick from a football perspective but I find it laughable to argue that he deserves a chance just not in Philly. I also think the media uproar over Vick’s return is pathetic when compared to how they approach other NFL players that have harmed or even killed a fellow human being. The animals-before-people crowd make me almost as sick as what Vick did to those poor dogs.

    • ianheath653 Says:

      Honestly, Fred, I was thinking ever since Vick’s signing about the possibility that, if he is genuinely changed, he could become a huge positive impact on the dog-breeding industry around here. Our opinions differ because you seem to think that scenario is rather likely in the end, while I’m much more skeptical about it. I’ll believe it when I see it, but until then to me it’s just as likely as pigs taking to the sky. I really hope you turn out to be correct on that one, but until then I’m inclined to doubt it.

      The other area where we differ is that while we agree that it’s moral for a random NFL team to give Vick another chance, I do not believe that Philadelphia is a random NFL team in this situation. Philadelphia is different from other places.

      No other NFL city has a surrounding rural area full of farmers who practice dog breeding on an industrial scale under abysmal conditions, who see nothing wrong with doing things like shutting down their breeding operation by shooting all 80 of their dogs after they’ve been ordered by local authorities to repair a kennel and get some of them looked at by a vet. Bringing Vick here sends a message that such behavior is okay.

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