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Vick's Mistake

Those who say the friends of Michael Vick's youth led the multi-millionaire quarterback to bankroll the dog fighting operation in which he allegedly participated as a trainer, bettor, and executioner decry posses and entourages. They maintain that disadvantaged lads who rise to riches and stardom through their athletic prowess must leave their still disadvantaged associates behind.

Then there are those who believe that Michael Vick would have been able to count on the support of the Atlanta Falcons and the considerable clout of the N.F.L. in his hour of idiocy if he hadn't lied to them when the deal began to go down. The lesson here, they contend, is that cover-ups don't work, and lying comes back to bite you when it's time to work a deal with the feds.

Finally, we've heard from the people who say it's the public that should finally learn from the Michael Vick mess that being a talented, photogenic, wealthy athlete who stars on TV each week doesn't necessarily make somebody a good guy, let alone a role model.

Maybe. Or maybe the lesson is that Michael Vick just picked the wrong animal.

People like dogs.

He should have bred, fought, and bet on rats. Big, fat, sleek rats with beady eyes and pointy teeth. Few people like rats. Vick and his friends probably could have starved, beaten, and pitted rats against each other with impunity. Probably nobody'd have objected to drowning them, either, though some bleeding heart namby-pambys might have drawn the line at electrocuting the vermin.

The police pick up a guy in Virginia on drug charges. The guy turns out to be Michael Vick's cousin. The authorities learn by visiting the perp's address that Vick has financed and enthusiastically participated in a rat-fighting operation. You think it goes any further than a laugh down at headquarters over what a twisted character Michael Vick turned out to be?

I don't think so. I think that under those circumstances, right now Michael Vick is in Atlanta's training camp preparing for the N.F.L. season rather than deciding which tie to wear when he stands before a judge on Monday.

He liked fighting animals, he should have gone with rats.

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