Tim Sylvester's Blog

I've been gone a while, but I am working my way back home, so to speak. Yes, it took the poster boy for the NFL to get me out of the pits I have been in since the footbal season ended. Throughout our lives, we encounter a situation where we look guilty of something, beit because we did it, or because we are associated with people who did. From our siblings when we were little, tattling on us, or just flat out blaming us for something they did, the majority of us know that sometimes appearences are enough to convict.

Over the past few years many young players in the NFL.Their friends are in that life, sometimes, their family is as well, what's that life? The night life, partying, dancing, drinking, fun. However, any time to mix young males with alcohol, anything can happen, especially when scantily clad women are involved; testosterone flows. This is not an excuse for the Pac Man Jones, or Chris Henry types, just an example of what can happen. Sometimes players are indeed innocent of the accusation they encounter. Sure, they were there, they even had words, but they walked away. Fortyniner linebacker Rodrick Green knows this all too well. Last summer, while out with friends at a local Maryland bowling alley, Green was stabbed, simply for "bumping into" a person. Oh sure, Green is fine now, but that did not stop many fans around the area from specualting, thinking the wrose, because of the past expereince with late night and NFL players.

Now we have Michael Vick.  

While it is unconscionable to think Michael Vick did not, could not know about what was transpiring on the property he bought for his cousin, while I detest animal cruelty and think of it akin to child abuse, we must let the facts play out. Over the course of history, many people have been thought of as guilty. Human nature sometimes is to give in to the allusion of perception and declare guilt, if even by association. Least we forget, the Duke Lacrosse scandal, that rocked a community, lead to a cancellation of an entire season, all but ruined several lives, because of false accusations and appearances.

In Vick's case, the investigation has been on going for some time now. Reports came out earlier this month, that the prosecutors did not have enough evidence to indict Vick or even tie to this dog fighting ring. Several indictments were handed down, several people involved in this conglomeration of animal cruelty were arrested, and Michael Vick was not one of them. Then the hammer came down late on Tuesday evening July the 17th naming Vick as an integral partner in this "business". An eye witness had come forward naming Vick in several horrible crimes involving the dogs, including funding the operation and betting on dog fights.

We have all read articles or watched news stories of cases where someone has stepped forward and named names to break a case wide open. Most times, the truth comes out, the perpetrators are guilty. However, in some instances, one of those indicted have tried to save their own skin, given the prosecutors a big name to try and get less time behind bars. ESPN ran a story months ago when the news first broke, with someone inside the world of dog fighting appearing, his identity hid, who went on to say Vick was involved and people knew, but those people would be too afraid to speak or take the money to keep quiet. Yes, it is possible that someone was trying to save their own hide, maybe even blackmailing Vick and Michael refused to give into the demands. Yes, the evidence appears to be solid.

After all, how many of us would spend over a million dollars on a house and property for a family member, and not keep tabs on that investment? While we may not know every dirty little secret hidden in the closets of our family circle, if one of our family members ran an illegal activity that netted in the millions per year, involved as much equipment as this dog fighting ring did, if the property was named -Bad Newz Kennels-one would almost have to be in a coma not to know.

If Michael Vick is innocent of all of these charges and truly did not know what was happening on that property, he, along with every other person whose job puts them in the spot light, affords them millions upon millions of dollars each year, should learn a valuable lesson. In life, there are people, even family members who would try and abuse, misuse, our kindness, our generosity. People who spend much of thier life in jobs that are under the spot light and even us "ordinary citizens" should be weary of our appearences. No, we can not nor should we do a background check on every friend, every new friend or family member, but we must avoid the appearence of impropriety. If you are against topless dancing, but smoke, would it be wise to stop in one o the many dance halls and buy a pack of cigarettes? Aside from the likely price gouge, if one of your friends or family members saw you coming from that establishment, think of the rumors that would circulate. That is a simple example.

Life is far more difficult than that scenario. No, players should not stop going out to clubs and having fun; they are entitled to that most certainly. However, which clubs, how long they stay, what they do in the clubs and perhaps more importantly, who they are with in the club should be scrutinized. Why hang out with a known gang banger, or drug user? Your association with said person can lead to many in correctly perceived notions. The NFL has made a cear statement on Vick and it speaks to the rest of the players as well.

"We are disappointed that Michael Vick has put himself in a position where a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against him," Brian McCarthy, a league spokesman, said in the statement. "We will continue to closely monitor developments in this case and to cooperate with law-enforcement authorities. The activities alleged are cruel, degrading and illegal."

Avoid the appearences, stay away from the known, be weary of the unknown. Your life in the NFL, you life outside the NFL for that matter, may depend on it. You are entitled to have your own opinion of Vick's or anyone's innocence. Just be careful you don't convict, and end up disbarred. Appearences and have lead to the down fall of many good people.






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