This is the thing with Willie Brown: I really want to like, nay LOVE, him because he’s such a magnificent bastard. I get oddly excited by the fantasy of him drinking himself under the bar at Ame, stiffing the bartender (serving Willie Brown is tip enough, hooker!), and then having a Ukrainian prostitute sent to his room at the St. Regis. That is a man I can get behind (gross), a man who Lives Each Day Like It’s His Rocking Last.
That’s why I’m having particular trouble with his most recent column telling the 49ers to hire dog killing quarterback Michael Vick. In his words:
Memo to the 49ers: Hire Michael Vick.
One, you need a quarterback. Two, he would increase ticket sales instantly.
As for the firestorm that would erupt over Vick’s conviction for dogfighting, I say, do what they did in Philadelphia. Ride it out.
Aside from being showboat (former) mayor/developer shill, Willie Brown’s early career was actually in criminal defense, meaning when it comes to crime, perhaps his ethical barometer is calibrated differently from the general public’s. This wasn’t actually a bad thing: Before he got to City Hall he was the defender of minorities, gays, and hookers.
A good friend to the little guy? Especially if the little guy is walking the streets in a wig and heels? I like.
Some say that Brown became corrupted by big development money and that’s one reason he’s ready to do whatever it takes to keep the 49ers. And maybe Brown’s still upset that he was unsuccessful in getting a new space for the team during his tenure (or EVER).
But how corrupt, upset, or ethically miscalibrated does a person have to be to suggest that Michael Vick should come play for our City’s football team?
Michael Vick’s crimes are truly horrendous. He ran an illegal dog fighting ring out of his home from early 2001 until it was raided on April 25th, 2007. During those years, he participated in the fighting, hanging, beating, electrocution, shooting, drowning, and execution of dogs. Not only that, he lied about it to both federal prosecutors and FBI agents.
What really stuck with me was the swimming pool that was used to drown some of the dogs in Vick’s ring. According to BadRap, a SF bay area based pit bull rescue and education organization, whose members visited Virginia to evaluate and home some of Vick’s dogs:
Jumper cables were clipped onto the ears of underperforming dogs, then, just like with a car, the cables were connected to the terminals of car batteries before lifting and tossing the shamed dogs into the water.
Most of Vick’s dogs were small – 40lbs or so – so tossing them in would’ve been fast and easy work for thick athlete arms. We don’t know how many suffered this premeditated murder, but the damage to the pool walls tells a story. It seems that while they were scrambling to escape, they scratched and clawed at the pool liner and bit at the dented aluminum sides like a hungry dog on a tin can.
To say that the Niners could just “ride it out,” and that San Francisco would eventually accept a man responsible for crimes like this is greatly underestimating the legions of dog lovers in SF. It might also speak to how out-of-touch Brown now is from the everyman he used to claim he spoke for.
As many folks like to note, there are more dogs than kids in our city, and San Franciscans hold dogs in the kind of esteem most societies reserve for deities. While I was walking my dog last night, a homeless guy stopped me to ask me if I knew what dog spelled backwards was? GET IT? We love dogs.
I highly doubt a city so obsessed with its critters would actually “ride it out,” and I’m disappointed that Brown thinks we lack any sort of depth of conviction in this regard.
I can think of one way the city of San Francisco might welcome Michael Vick with open arms: what if he gave up the game, and came here to devote his life to helping end dog fighting? Imagine how amazing that would be.
It’s not an altogether crazy idea, either. There are lots of us who earn very little money working in non-profit. I understand that he has some serious BILLS but WELCOME TO DEPRESSION 2.0, we all have some serious bills. He’d just have to work off his debt to society in a slow-ass way, just like the rest of us. God knows, one of the people who free loaded off his dumb ass during his pre-conviction glory years could even help him out.
He could spend the rest of his days teaching kids that dog fighting is fucked. If he really has a passion for football and simply has to play, check out little league, motherfucker. Or you know, some sort of community adult team. Bam!
It’s a nice fantasy, but now some reality: When Vick was in town to play the Oakland Raiders, BadRap sent him a letter asking him if he’d like to visit any of his dogs that have since been rehabilitated and placed in loving homes. His answer? “Nope.”
If Michael Vick were truly remorseful, I believe he would have gone to see those dogs. But moves like that make me think he’s not.
Think about that letter, and Vick’s response, Mayor Brown. Think about that swimming pool. Now think about how suggesting that San Francisco collaborate in giving this man back the game, the contracts, the money, and the fame is a reprehensible thing to do.