An open letter to SUNY Cortland concerning Michael Vick

To whom it may concern (that would be over 1,500 petition signers):

You must think the petition you’ve signed that aims to keep New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick off the campus of the State University of New York College at Cortland is a noble cause. In reality, it is asinine, it’s conceited and it doesn’t benefit you, either.

To clarify for readers who may not understand the connection, SUNY Cortland has hosted the Jets’ training camp every August since 2009, bar the lockout year of 2011. They plan to return there this summer, but if a group of protest-minded students have their way, their new quarterback, former dogfight emcee Michael Vick, will be legally barred from campus. Vick has to practice with his new team, so the petition effectively tells the entire team to take a hike.

The first thing I see when opening your petition on Change.org is the sickening shot of a mutilated dog, adjacent with Michael Vick sporting a Falcons beanie and a smug mug. People so mortified by animal cruelty would not post the picture of this dog anywhere except for shock value. You cry “sociopath,” “monster” and “disgrace.” You say he “has never once apologized” (factually untrue).

You say that Vick served a jail sentence, but that “that does not mean… that his crimes should be forgotten.” Similarly, for every comment I read on this New York Daily News article saying that Vick has paid his debt, there is a reply saying little more than “No, he hasn’t.” I understand that Vick’s animal cruelty charges were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea, that he only served time for the bankrolling of a dogfighting ring, but that’s our justice system at work. Play vigilante all you want – he served his time.

I truly hope nobody treats you the way you wish to treat Vick (like he’s an unapologetic, proven serial killer who got off on a technicality). Do you have to perpetually pay for the mistakes you made five or ten years ago? You haven’t received forgiveness or a second chance? You people who signed this petition are taking a very anti-forgiveness, anti-second-chance stance. Vick’s crimes were horrific, but I advise that he who is without sin among you to cast the first stone.

Now, let’s look at what you’d be doing to the innocent citizens of Cortland by turning Vick and the Jets away. The Jets stop by SUNY Cortland for a few weeks each year to stretch and run some drills on their turf, and in return, the entire town cashes in. I visited Jets camp in Cortland myself two years ago. You know, the year of Tebow and the media circus? ESPN practically broadcast Sportscenter live from your insignificant village for two weeks. Can you imagine how much extra dough your town earned putting up Sal Paolantonio and his merry band of TV crew, and all the other media types in town? Syracuse.com’s Lindsay Kramer reported it was about $5.5 million.

In short, the Jets don’t need you. You need the Jets. I’m sure SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Fredonia or some other college would be happy to capitalize on your loss. But more important here is that Vick has made the most of his second chance in the league, and you want to deny him the career he earned and earned again.

Maybe I wouldn’t be writing this open letter if the Jets weren’t my favorite team, but no matter what team Vick had signed with this offseason, I’d think it laughable if the campus that hosted that team’s camp tried to ban him. I was not a big Michael Vick fan at the time he was sentenced. I was not a big fan when he was reinstated, either, but I still had no problem with it.

A parting thought. I reject your premise that “if we welcome Vick onto our campus, we are complicit in his crimes.” But if you truly believe that, there are better ways to protest. I’m sure out of your 1,500 petition signers, there are a few of you who like football. The real right thing to do would be to boycott the NFL who reinstated Vick – you know, back in 2009. Forget training camp! Don’t consume anything they sell! Don’t watch a single game of NFL football for the rest of your lives, or at least until the NFL kicks Vick out for good (basically the same thing).

That’ll show them.

Best wishes,

Adam Zielonka

  • cleanupphilly

    I disagree that petitions have no teeth. This has already gotten about four dozen articles written about it, and the petition has 10,000 signatures at the time I post this. It generates buzz. More than one person committing to boycott the Jets or the NFL, it is making people really rethink the traditional game day with the family. Are these the values you want to convey to your kids when you watch a jets game? Those kids will look at the photo of the rescued pit bull (one of Vick’s if memory serves) and ask “Daddy, did our QB do those things?”

    • Nathan

      Stop whining! The school is more than likely not going to give in to this petition! If they do it’s sad for the loss of revenue in the community! The machine will just roll into a new town more excited and welcoming! Oh and if I had a child that asked “did our qb do those things?” I would say yes, he has changed and continues to do things that will end dog fighting!

      • cleanupphilly

        So when your darling girl grows up and dates him, you’ll have no problem. Ha ha. You’re going to have mutant Vick babies. Let me tell you something – I live here. He has not changed one iota.

  • cleanupphilly

    Hiring an ork like conVick is a boon for sports like Soccer and Cycling. People are going to be so disgusted, they’ll change the channel. They’ll just let go of football as a thing they did so fanatically.

    They’ll finally get to those chores. They’ll hit the gym. They’ll run. They’ll bike and do charity fundraisers. Some people will break the spell of the NFL in every team area Vick goes to. It happened to Philly, until Philly said it’s not worth having jailbirds as a team both to manage and for the bottom line in growing paying fans. The quality people with the cash peeled away from the sport and went to better for you, better for family sports to watch and to play.

    Mark my words, you are watching the beginning of the end of the dominance of the NFL as the American pastime. This is the last generation of it. And it’s nonsense like having gangsters and thugs play the game that jolts people into realizing, hey, this is not something that is good for my kids, not guys I want my kids to emulate in anyway.

    • Nathan

      You are so blinded buddy! The only thing that will break the NFL cash cow is if there are more deaths related to the brain linked to NFL play! No one player will end the throne the NFL sits on! You might not have been excepting of Vick but a large % of Philly was and still is! Your circle must not be as big as you think!

      • cleanupphilly

        That is the other side of the knife. The NFL is not what is was, once a kind of national religion, the only game in town, the only thing you could talk about with men. There is no more stranglehold. Mothers and fathers don’t want it for their sons like they once did anymore, and thugs like Vick are just one reason more.

  • cleanupphilly

    And Vick didn’t serve a day for animal cruelty – that time was for federal tax evasion on illegal income from a criminal conspiracy. He walked on the cruelty aspect.

  • tj

    @cleanupphilly:disqus you make me sick, im a huge dog lover and i have forgiven him. He has spent immense amounts of time trying to repair his image, to the point where it actually began to look like overkill. Its people like you, the aggressors, that make this world worse. Yes, he participated in a dog fighting ring, he pled guilty and was not charged. He still served a ton of time and put in a lot of extraneous work. I truly believe the man is sorry. If we can’t forgive in life, how are we supposed to ask for forgiveness from other people. I’ve screwed up my fair share of times and I’m sure you have as well. Personally, I think the right thing to do as fans is support our team and live in the NOW…not 10 years ago.

    • cleanupphilly

      I suspect people like you are paid PR flacks. I never meet the Vick fans in real life. I live in Philly, and were are these people? I meet the people who are grossed out that Vick got hired.

      But let’s presume that you are somehow a real person, that somehow believed that a sadistic killer like Vick who enjoyed dog fighting and killing as he stated is somehow able to change that part of the neocortex that has empathy. Neurology contradicts you – you grow a neocortex and have empathy that expresses itself early or you don’t, due to fetal alcohol or other exposures, such as to violence, and it is stunted. It doesn’t just grow back.

      Vick is unchanged. He just lives on a very tight leash called an NFL contract. You are woefully naive about human nature. Live in the now. The now is he is a thug is a thug is a thug. Once a jail bird, always a jailbird. You don’t have the power to wish redemption and grant it. It isn’t fairy dust.

      Some crimes are too extreme and too gruesome to find redemption from, and this is one of them.

  • Dan Gustafson

    I agree!! I live in Cortland, and the town benefits tremendously from the Jets’ training camp! I have written an e-mail to President Bitterbaum (president@cortland.edu) expressing my support for accepting Michael Vick as a team member of the Jets. I encourage everyone else to do the same!

  • jgc

    Vick did not do ONE SINGLE DAY in jail for serially, brutally torturing and killing dogs. He did time for running illegal dog fighting. This psychopath attached battery cables to dogs’ ears and tossed them into a swimming pool where they LEFT CLAW MARKS ON THE SIDE OF THE POOL trying to get out! He is only saying the right things now to make $5,000,000.00 A YEAR! Please, go to change dot org, read the horrific things he did, and then sign the petition. Vick should not be allowed in the NFL.

  • Amie

    While personally I would like to see Vick banned on principle, I doubt very much that this will be the outcome. The real purpose here is to raise awareness. Dogfighting (to speak nothing of the ourtright torture he and his associates inflicted well outside of the realm of mere dogfighting) is a heinous and despicable act, and the victims are at a disadvantage because they cannot advocate for themselves. Even if Vick does not get banned (highly likely), maybe a few people learned about dog fighting and will be better informed because of it. They will vote with their dollars. THIS is what I am aiming for. While I agree that focusing on the NFL’s reinstatement of Vick might have been a more effective tactic back in 2009, I was not aware of the issues at that time. Due to the actions of others to promote awareness, I was educated about the issues and became an advocate myself.

    Vick will be fine. He is sitting on millions, and he has plenty of supporters (perhaps more than detractors). I certainly don’t wish him any personal or bodily harm (and condemn those who do), but I can also not forgive what he has done. After engaging in the continued, calculated abuse of animals, the very
    least he can do is help to draw attention to the issues he helped
    perpetuate.

  • Ondre3k

    You people need help……
    If this was a great white hype QB, we wouldn’t even be discussing or signing any petition. It would be swept under the carpet and forgotten to a point. It’s just another crazy situation, people are causing for no reason. It happened and there’s nothing you people can do about it, but move on. If the jets win the Super Bowl, all this bs distraction would not even be a topic and you same people would be happy celebrating, so save it……