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September 15th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

One Last Word on Michael Vick

Mike VickBy the way, the controversy over Michael Vick’s reinstatement to the NFL is still raging. Following Wednesday’s Philadelphia show, in which we had what I think was an intelligent discussion about Vick’s reinstatement, I do think some people moved their positions, but I don’t think any widespread peace has broken out between the two sides.

If you’ve been reading this blog, then you know how much I love animals, dogs in particular. I’ve also made it clear just how outraged I am with anyone who engages in dogfighting. In my opinion, people who do this kind of thing are sick, and they are sick in such a way that it’s unlikely to expect any real change from them.

Nevertheless, I personally found the Philadelphia show to be very thought-provoking — so much so, I actually forgot we were doing a show because I was so engrossed in the discussion. I went into the discussion with an open mind, but in all honesty, I was skeptical about whether Vick was rehabilitated and whether he truly had earned the right to be back in the NFL. Still, I will say, I was impressed with what I heard from Eagles head coach Andy Reid, who I spoke with the day before we did the show. The coach believes Vick is sincere, is genuinely turning his life around and is determined to never go back to that place in his life where he thought it was perfectly fine to fight dogs.

I believe that Vick should be credited for serving his time in prison without complaint and publicly declaring that he has learned the error of his ways. I was also impressed with Governor Rendell’s logic that it sends a terribly negative message to other prisoners serving their time; that we still choose to deny them the right to earn a living after they have paid their debt to society.

If you watched the show, you know that the NAACP representative said he thought that a lot of what had happened to Michael Vick was about race. He believed Vick was being treated harshly simply because he is an African-American. White convicts who served their time, he went on to say, aren’t judged so harshly after they are released from prison. I’m curious what you think about that point of view. Personally, I just don’t see it, but of course, I could be missing something here. Maybe you’ll enlighten me.

I guess where I come down is that our opinions are after the fact. He has been re-signed, that’s the reality, but I believe the Eagles and the NFL should proceed with extreme caution. As I pointed out on the show, I’m not saying Vick is a sociopath (antisocial personality disorder). I can’t do that because I haven’t evaluated him or seen the results from anyone who has, but based on his conduct, he certainly could be. And if that’s the case, I’m not optimistic that he Eagles Vick Footballhas, or even can, get better. The fact is that the prognoses for people with these types of disorders, while varying from person to person, are generally, in my experience, not good.

Now let me be clear: I’m not saying he shouldn’t be given a second chance. But, what really bothers me is that there doesn’t seem to be much focus on whether or not he has really gotten any better. To really overcome this type of behavior and reasoning, it takes a lot of work with highly-trained professionals. Despite the progress that has been made in the prison environment in recent past, I’m guessing it is just not the therapeutic milieu Michael Vick is likely to flourish in.

In my opinion, giving him his NFL status back before he has done the work required of him is imprudent and untimely. I actually think it’s unfair to him: giving him too much too soon could very well be setting him up for failure. Just because his handlers and spin doctors have him saying the “right” things doesn’t mean he believes or means a word of it. Just because they have him interacting with students and animal advocates doesn’t mean he’s on his way to lasting change.

But as I said, at this point, we have to accept the facts: Vick is signed with the Eagles, and given starting quarterback Donovan McNabb’s rib injury, he may soon play. I sure hope he works as relentlessly with a professional therapist as he does practicing pass plays. As Pennsylvania Governor Rendell said on the show, the measure of his success or failure will not be on the field, but in his life off the field.

So, I’m going to watch all this unfold with an open mind. And I mean it when I say I’m going to be watching. We need to be very cautious about Michael Vick — very, very cautious. Time will tell as his behavior will speak much louder than the scripted words he is spewing.

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131 Responses to “One Last Word on Michael Vick”

  1. Ollieinbc says:

    I’m sorry if I sound callous or unforgiving, but I have zero tolerance for anyone that abuses animals. Animals were not put on this earth for us to use and abuse. It’s up to us (humans) to take care of them and to keep them safe.

    I believe, once an animal abuser, always an animal abuser. These people can’t be reformed … it’s just the way they are, without conscience and without feeling.

    I’ve always been a cat person and have been owned by many of them. When they lay on your lap and look into your eyes you see pure, unconditional love. Or when they lay next to you in bed at night, with their warm, furry little bodies keeping you warm and purring in your ear, it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling and helps lull you to sleep. Dogs are the same way. They give love and deserve love back.

    So, anybody who uses these innocent animals in a negative way should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, should never be allowed to own another animal and should never even be allowed to be within a hundred yards of another animal.

    Animal abusers are sick people and it’s known that people who abuse animals also have no qualms about abusing other humans.

    Just my 2 cents worth …

  2. Carol says:

    I don’t think that he deserves to be in Football at all he killed innocent animals for nothing but because of the money he could make.
    How dare the League give him back his job as though nothing has happened he even said that he thought he would be the head quarterback he still doesn’t realize what he did to those innocent animals. It just makes feel badly about the league that they would hire anybody because they don’t have the quarterbacks they need and that is why they did it and that is as low as they can go and that is a fact.
    He is a killer and they don’t even think about it he deserves to be in jail like all killers do. I know the law calls a dog property but to me property is a house a car something that doesn’t breathe and feel pain.
    I thought that the League was low when the Patriots got away with cheating on a large scale with just a small amount of money that changed the whole scope of football and now they have rehired a killer.
    What else would they do that the public doesn’t know about for their bottom line?

  3. Jill C says:

    I have a huge problem with Michael Vick being reinstated by the NFL so soon after his release. He made a HUGE error in judgement when he became involved in a dogfighting ring. He not only killed innocent animals, he assisted in their mutilation and electrocution. This is one sick individual. Maybe Mr. Vick can be rehabilitated, who knows? I don’t understand why he was forgiven so soon, sure he served the small amount of prison time he was given. What has he done since his release?
    Why didn’t he have to do any community time? Work for an animal shelter, perhaps? Is he in therapy to help him better understand why he let himself get involved in a dogfighting ring to begin with? I am a firm believer that if you will abuse an animal, it’s a matter of time before you abuse people. I don’t think Michael Vick has changed one bit. He has just learned to say the right stuff to get reinstated by the NFL. Much more time should have been given between his release and reinstatement to PROVE he has changed. I, for one, will not be watching any game involving the Philadelphia Eagles. Fortunately, I am not as forgiving as the NFL and Philadelphia Eagles, especially when it comes to animal rights!

  4. dr. Phil, will your show start airing again in Houston? There are so many people that miss it so much and really get a lot out of it.Please respond.

  5. Vicky Van Hentenryck says:

    I don’t know what more I can say that Dr. Phil hasn’t already said but I will try to articulate my anger and frustration. When people would talk about the Vick conviction I would always say he would never be re-signed because of all the bad press but it happened and it happened quickly. I think all the people who think he should have been re-signed need to search their hearts and ask themselves why they would back such a ruthless murderer. And yes he is a murderer..he took innocent lives. The only reason he says he is sorry is because he got cought. Some of those beautiful dogs have gone on to become therapy dogs and are serving their community with more dignity than michael vick ever did (I will not use capital letters in his name because he doesn’t deserve that much respect). When the dogs that lost their lives get a 2nd chance is when I will give one to vick. The best thing you could do to honor the animals that were tortured and those that lost their lives is to keep their memory alive and never forget what happened to them. Do not support the NFL by giving them your money. Turn in your tickets in protest and see how fast they will cut vick. The bottem line is always money so do what you can to take it away from them.

  6. Georgia says:

    My question about Michael Vick is “Who cares”? I mean, what he did was totally wrong. I’m not denying that, but he did pay his debt to society. I say give the guy a chance and let him play football, for goodness sakes. If he screws it up again, that’s on him.

  7. Did I hear correctly, that Michael Vick has signed a contract to do a reality television series? Somehow, I don’t think that will come to pass.

  8. Race has nothing to do with it and I resent the fact that the NAACP has to toss that into this mess. There was a man, a white man, near here that put himself in a very similar situation to Michael Vick and believe me, the backlash was astounding! People feel very protective about animals, small children, and the elderly. What on earth is wrong with that??? Black, white, brown, whatever, it’s a disgusting thing and something that is very hard to forgive. Black? Come on, that’s a diversion to the role he played in the treatment of these defenseless animals and that’s why it’s hard to put much merit in the opinions of the NAACP anymore.

  9. Lori says:

    I agree what Vick did was wrong but really, if you are eating meat, wearing furm wool, down or leather you are all participating in the abuse of animals. We have a moral schizophrenia when it comes to animals.

  10. He did the crime, he did the time. Back off. Football is his profession. Since he has “paid his debt to society” by serving jail time–lay off him. Give him some time to prove he learned his lesson and allow him to practice the profession he loves and is very good at. The”do the time” part is intregal to US Justice. Leave him alone.

  11. Karlyn says:

    I think it’s absolutely disgusting and ridiculous at the fact that this man has been allowed to come back into the NFL. he’s a sick person, a murderer, and has no sympothy whatsoever for what he’s done. the only reason he says he’s sorry is because he got caught. He’ll never feel bad for what he did, he’ll never cry or lose sleep over the loss of these animals, when in reailty…they could’ve been wonderful pets for families that actually care about animals. and to play the whole “african-american” card makes it even worse. He’s trying to make himself the victim by using that which is ridiculous. You know what you did, you got caught, you served a MINIMUM sentence…which in all reality should be a hell of a lot longer! You got lucky because you are “famous”…to who? NOT ME…but to some I suppose. He should never EVER be allowed to own a pet (I probably shouldn’t even say “pet” because I’m sure to him, they’re just money makers). He shouldn’t even be allowed near an animal. And in all honesty, I’m not just saying him, this is my opinion on every single person that participates in such an awful thing. You deserve to be treated the way you treat these animals…you deserve to get injured, hurt, and suffer. People like him make me sick.

  12. Margaret Latocha says:

    omg takes these freakes and put them over in the war and make them fight

  13. Erin says:

    I am shocked by what I saw on the Dr. Phil Show about dog fighting. Who in their right mind could actually want to sit by and watch such a thing happen. I am glad to know that it is against the law to do such things. If it weren’t illegal, people would be doing it in their back yards, causing injury to kids! It is a protective law!

  14. Deborah Kay Steinken says:


  15. maggie says:

    i couldnt watch more than 5 min of the show,it made me sick,as the owner of one of these gentle giants pitbulls (sheeka) is 11 yrs old and sleeps in the waterbed with me since my husband has passed away. this dog has been attacked twice by pitbulls that have no been on leashes.she is so afraid now,she is on the offense,so i can no longer can take the dog for a walk.
    this guy is really sick,i think cock fighting is sick too

  16. maggie says:

    couldnt watch show after 5 min today,i have one of these gentle giant pitbulls (sheeka) is 11 yrs old and now sleeps in my waterbed. she is my most beloved pet yet.this is sick and so is cock fighting

    thank you for taking a stand

  17. maggie says:

    couldnt watch after 5 min too sick

  18. Terri says:

    Dr Phil,

    I planned to watch this show, but didn’t get to, because I received a phone call alerting me that an ‘investigative reporter’ in Charleston, SC just aired a fact-faulty story about my father’s upcoming parole hearing. My father, David Tant, was convicted of dogfighting in 2004, and dubbed the “Number Two Dogfighting Kingpin in the World.” Several attempts to tie my father and Vick were made by the SC Attorney General at the time of Vick’s trial, to the point of endangering his life and severely violating his civil rights.

    My father was originally sentenced to 15 years, and had already served two years in medium security when he was due to come up for his first parole hearing. It was at the same time Vick was being tried. Suddenly, without warning, & after the close of business on Friday afternoon of July 4th weekend, my father (at age 60) was transferred to a maximum security prison and put in general population. His parole hearing was cancelled and moved forward three years. It seems the SC Dept of Corrections decided to change his sentence from 15 to 40 years, based on a letter they received that day from the judge. My father was never notified or brought before the judge. It turns out, the letter was prompted by the AG, and the judge’s clerk told my father’s attorney “David Tant’s not getting out” because the judge “can do whatever he wants.” Wow.

    During the following week, a reporter from Channel 4 ran a story (which the inmates were watching) from a “source” calling my father “the secret informant against Michael Vick.” As you might imagine, his life was immediately in danger, and there was a mad dash to correct the news story. That reporter cited his source as anonymous & coming from the AG’s office, and then he mysteriously didn’t work for that station anymore. The connection to Vick was never proven.

    Now, it’s three years later, and time again for his ‘first’ parole hearing. It was scheduled for June 25th. The Channel 5 news story now says that the hearing date is June 9th, and it will be a media & animal activist frenzy. June 9th just happens to be three days before the SC primary, and our media-loving AG also just happens to be running for governor. He has stated several times that he is using my father to “set an example” regarding his intolerance and toughness on crime.

    There are many more sorted and questionable details to this story, but the bottom line is-

    I believe that what my father did was inhumane, and don’t dispute that he should have been punished, but at what point is it enough, and when does society’s (and the legal system’s) treatment of a human become inhumane? There are many, many people out there who say he should be imprisoned for life or executed, because the dogs didn’t have a choice in their fate. I can understand where their anger and hatred comes from, but there are so very many more child molesters and murderers who have had ‘fair’ trials and served much less time. My father has been a model prisoner for nearly six years, fully paid all restitution, had almost all of his assets seized, and is now 63 years old with no prior criminal history. His trial was a farce, designed to be a personal media event for the AG, and his civil rights have been very obviously violated. He, like Vick, may not yet have had the formal rehabilitation that you speak of, and at the rate it’s going, it doesn’t look like he’ll ever get the opportunity.

    Thanks for bringing both sides of the issue to the table,


  19. I AM OUTRAGED!!!!!!!! I HAVE BEEN RAISING PITBULLS FOR OVER 20 YRS AND I AM VERRRRRRRY ANGRY THAT PEOPLE WOULD TAKE THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS WITH THE INTENTION OF WATCHING THEM DIE. We have a legnthy process for the people who buy my dogs, they must have had job for more than 1 year, have their name on a lease or own their property and be able to document it, must have vet name and phone number, we have to visit your home and reserve the right to confiscate the dog if ever abused in any way. We currently own 3. We have the mom, dad and son. They are the most beautiful dogs you have ever seen. I know if you were to see them you would agree they are AMAZING!!!!! I wish I could send you a picture, you would fall in love!

  20. Tina Miller says:

    Dr. Phil . . .I see a lot about Dog abuse, and completely agree that we need to take a stand in preventing it. HOWEVER, what about addressing what happens to dogs when they have been mistreated and taught to be mean and the responsibilities of pet owners when THEIR DOGS ATTACK innocent people. My son was 6 years old, when he was attacked by a rottweiler. Sustaining injuries on his eye brow, under his eye, nose, lip, and jaw that left him in the hospital! Not to mention the mental anguish he still goes through. Maryland has a First Bite Law and it is permissable to have such an attack with NO ACCOUNTABILITY to the dog or owner! REALLY??!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH PEOPLE??

  21. Wendy says:

    I watched todays show with the dog fighter who remains under the impression that what he does with “his” dogs are his business. Michael Vick said the exact same words, these people are very sick individuals, I’m not sure therapy can give a person a conscience that he or she was not born with. However, dogfighting has been linked to other terrible crimes, such as human slave trafficing, money laundering, drug lords and gang related activity. Each and every state much not only pass these laws but uphold them and hold those who are convicted of breaking these laws accountable. No one ever learns, if they are repeatedly praised for wrong doing, the punishment for animal abbuse is way too lenient, sometimes a slap on the hand or a small fine is all they get for the torure an pain they inflict. Our society of decent citizens has no room for these dispicable people, there is no excuse for their actions, we all have things in our past that were not pleasant, but if we are responsible human beings we don’t repeat the wrong we make this world a better place for us and those who will go on after us. This have become a big problem, people even take their children to watch these fighting events, fighting that these poor animals have no control over, animals, such as dogs, or cat or roosters, do not fight to the death if not in the “ring” one will back down, and peace is established, ask any one who has lived on a farm. Mother nature never put an animal in a ring with no choice but to fight for its life only man and his sick mind could do such a thing. I hove no sympathy for any one who mistreats an animal in any way. I hope this sort of “sport” is wiped out and the rest of us won’t have to fear that our pets will be stollen to be a “bait dog”. It all just makes me want to cry, and after that the anger takes over and I want to see them all in jail with a bunch of hard ass animal lovers. Thanks for letting me vent. And shame on that mans attorney and the smirk of both of their faces. When confronted by the biker group that dog fighting man looked like he needed to run, too bad he wasn’t in a ring with no way out.

  22. Shauna says:


  23. Retrail Vick he just doing to do it again he serv enough time to learn
    Next time hang till the sun goes down
    And get him off the football playing grounds let him play golf

  24. Im not committing anymore im 53 im tired he just a sicko

  25. Samantha says:

    I think that what Michael Vick did is sick and cruel. I believe he shouldn’t even be allowed to have a dog. Who can trust that man? He has done so many horrible things to those innocent dogs it makes me sick. Even though he is “good” at this sport he plays, he should not really be playing again in my opinion. How would you feel if you were tortured? Not very good, that is what I thought. Dogs are people too and they also deserve justice.

  26. Jeanne says:

    I really appreciate free, succinct, rleaible data like this.

  27. Jenita says:

    Articles like this make life so much siplmer.

  28. My Blog says:

    [...] all of this, he was still shunned by many in the public, and in local, and national newspapers. Even Dr. Phil described his behavior as “sociopathic” while also stating that he could not give a diagnosis of Vick, without having evaluated him, [...]

  29. Augustine says:

    I also think they will let him play again. If they don’t, its only because they want him to be a symobl to every player who might do something wrong – MC

  30. Lauren says:

    It’s important to seratape the question of what Andy Reid should do and what Andy Reid will do. The fans will no doubt be screaming for Vick within two offensive plays next week, but my guess is that Reid really does want to stick with Kolb. In this day and age, you can’t fool around with concussions, and if there’s any week to feel comfortable starting your second-stringer, it’s when you play the Lions. (And how comfortable should you feel afterwards, if you only beat the Lions by three?) It might be easier to win with Vick right now. But my guess is that Kolb keeps the job, and that Vick is the starter for a different team next season.

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