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Apparently the word "defendant" was more tolerable to Michael Vick than the words, "Gee, Mike, you’ve really changed." Vick was so concerned with staying true to his roots that no amount of Blue White Black ladies Mens Kids [Team All] Jerseys paternalistic lecturing from Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank could persuade him to dump his old associations. As a result, there were apparently two Michael Vicks. There was the polished, posterized NFL star who was nice to kids, and on his way to being wealthier than a multinational. But according to a federal indictment, there was also the lowlife, sadistic kingpin of the Bad Newz Kennels known to childhood pals as "Ookie."There is the suggestion that Vick has landed in all this trouble, indicted on federal charges for running a lurid dogfight operation, because he was trying to, as they say, "keep it real." The suggestion here is that when you get to play a game for a living and call it work, and stand to earn more than $100 authentic Barry Sanders Jersey million, you are no longer in the realm of "real." You have officially entered the realm of the blessedly "surreal." Vick obviously questioned which realm he really belonged in. Now, a U.S. District Court may decide his realm for him.The Vick case poses an interesting question. What’s escapable? One of the more troubling aspects of Vick’s indictment is that it suggests that real change wasn’t possible for him, that he never really got away from the place he grew up, that he was doomed by his lousy-violent childhood in the projects of Newport News to such flawed judgment. He was on his way to being one of the most appealing and dashing young men in the NFL. But self-determination doesn’t seem to have prevailed.A full-fledged canine horror chamber was found during police raids April 25-26 on his 15-acre property in Surry County, Va. Vick has maintained he was not aware that dogs fought to death, were tortured and executed on his property. "I’m never there. I’m never at the house," he said. "I left the house with my family members and my cousin. They just haven’t been doing the right thing."Then Vick added an interesting statement. “It’s unfortunate I have to take the heat behind it. . . . It’s a call for me to really tighten down on who I’m trying to take care of. When it all boils down, people will try to take advantage of you and leave you out to dry. Lesson learned for me.”For the sake of argument, let’s accept Vick’s excuse. Let’s set aside the three authentic Barry Sanders Jersey Blue White Black ladies Mens Kids [Team All] Jerseys witnesses cited in the indictment who allege that Vick was on the property, gambled on the dogfights, and ordered dogs executed, including one that was doused with water and electrocuted.At the very least, Vick is guilty of leading a double life. He had one foot in the corporate boardrooms, and one foot in the bad old circles from Newport News, where he grew up amid gunplay. By his own admission, he has taken care of all the wrong people, for fear of being labeled a phony who forgot where he came from.But if you want a phony, how about a starting NFL quarterback and a huge commercial concern with his own Nike brand-name shoes, who tries to act like he’s still one of the fellas. Who hangs with childhood cronies named "P-Funk," or "T" or "Q." Who by day comes on like a business sophisticate who endorses the Nike Air Zoom Vick IV D, currently on the shelves selling for $84.99, or the Zoom Vick V, at a suggested retail price of $100, and who by night (whether wittingly or unwittingly) bankrolls dogfights. What a silly, pathetic brand of fraud, to pretend to be someone lesser, instead of someone better.Vick’s loyalty to his old mates was like a bad undertow. It has resulted in a disservice to the Falcons and to Nike. Granted, the corporate interests that have allied themselves with Vick are using him, too. But at least they’re paying to use him, as opposed to those parasites he paid while they used him. Blank gave Vick a 10-year contract extension and supported him through various smaller misjudgments, including the charming moment when he shot the finger to fans, while Nike has put out five styles of shoes with his name on them. Now Nike has to suspend sales of Vick’s newest kicks, while Blank has to figure out who will quarterback the team.Both the NFL and the Falcons have to decide how to deal with Vick while under indictment. Should they tolerate Vick’s inability to disentangle himself from his old associations, though it will entangle and drag them down too? Should they put up with the public embarrassment and the protests that will result if Vick reports for practice under new coach Bobby Petrino, a day after he’s scheduled to appear in a Richmond court for bond and arraignment? Are they supposed to display loyalty to him even though his own loyalties are, by his own admission, so misplaced?One suggestion being floated is that the Falcons and the NFL might press Vick to take a leave of absence while he deals with his indictment. It’s not a bad idea. A leave would give him time to sort out something else too: the question of who he really is.

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