At least no more than a few people have raised the specter of race in Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's involvement in the inhumane and barbaric practice of dogfighting and animal executions.
To offer race as an excuse is to taint every black and to license misbehavior purely on the basis of color. To even hint that race is one reason Vick's tawdry behavior should be tolerated is to demean all blacks by saying that they should be allowed a lower standard of conduct simply because of their color.
Bad behavior is bad behavior. Period. Vick's now-admitted involvement in the grim practice of dogfighting should not be accepted on any level.
In spite of what has gone on in this country, race can never be an excuse for inexcusable behavior. If Vick arrived in the National Football League with a questionable background, he was obligated to overcome it. If he were 13 years old instead of 27, one might forgive him.
But Vick is an adult who has experienced pitfalls as well as huge advantages. Not only did he hide his role in the mistreatment of animals, he lied about it when his involvement was uncovered. He had to know that allowing animal abuse on his property and facilitating the practice was wrong, wrong, wrong.
If pro sports are to have any real meaning in America, they must demand certain standards, both on and off the field. Anyone capable of abusing animals as was done in this instance should be banned for life.
Playing professional sports is a privilege. Not only are athletes paid huge sums of money, but they enjoy opportunities that are closed to 99 percent of the rest of us.
Three of Vick's accomplices pointed fingers at him and set the stage for a trial that might have landed him behind bars for a lengthy period of time. If he is lucky, he'll only be suspended from the league and spend less time in jail. Truth is, he should be expelled from football. Like it or not, professional athletes are role models who represent every kid's dream of making it in the pros, just as Vick did.
Because Vick is guilty of behavior that millions of Americans find appalling, there is no place for him in professional football. It doesn't matter that dogfighting is underground commerce, and that it goes on in various parts of the country.
Vick's late-hour confession after lying about his involvement to his family, friends, fans and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is unconscionable. It's amazing that some people are talented enough to play complex professional sports and at the same time are stupid enough to throw away their careers for something as profane as animal cruelty.
There is no excuse for his long-standing role in dogfighting and his participation in the slaughter of canines by hanging, electrocution and worse. Some behavior is beyond redemption.
Every big-league contract should contain multiple clauses pertaining to behavior, spelling out the possible consequences of serious infractions. It's not too much to ask of athletes paid millions annually to entertain sports fans - and innocent children - to exercise integrity and sensitivity.
Whatever the future holds for Vick as an NFL player is what he brought upon himself.