A throwaway line in the Paul Simon song "You Can Call Me Al" goes something like this: "Get these mutts away from me -- I don't find this stuff amusing any more."
Michael Vick can certainly relate. Or, he might find an appropriate theme song in that late '90s hit by the Baha Men: "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Even if the Atlanta Falcons' quarterback isn't suspended by the league, I'll bet he hears that blasting over the PA system in every city on the road.
Vick hasn't been proven guilty of participating in (and bankrolling) illegal dogfighting, of course -- but he has been proven self-destructive, by a long series of embarrassing incidents. I'm not sure what it is about the Tidewater area, but his problems remind me a lot of Allen Iverson, the Hampton-born basketball star, who also seemed determined to hang onto his tough guy, pseudo-gangsta image even after the Philadelphia 76ers made him a multi-millionaire.
In recent years, Iverson appears to have matured. Vick, 27, may have lost his chance.
Tuesday's federal indictment against Vick and three alleged co-conspirators (including a guy named Pernell Peach) was not only damning, but grisly. At one point, it accuses Peach of electrocuting the loser in one dog fight with Vick looking on. If true, that's not going to go over well with PETA.
Perhaps the hardest of Vick's statements to believe is the one about his relatives and friends staging dog fights at the Suffolk County property the quarterback owned without his knowledge.
("Quick -- Michael's coming! Let's hide the 50 pit bulls in this closet!")
That would be like Osama bin Laden saying that he thought those Afghan terrorist training centers were really summer camps for disadvantaged kids.
Even worse, Vick repeated his blanket denial to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in April.
Unlike the federal court system, the NFL doesn't have to try Vick with a jury of his peers. If it's determined that he's become enough of an embarassment to the league, he can be suspended. Period.
Either way, this is a huge problem for Vick's team, which has built its offense, its salary structure and its marketing plan around Vick's twinkling feet and howitzer of an arm.
Falcons' owner Arthur Blank has hung in there with Vick for several years despite the fact that the former Virginia Tech star has only rarely fulfilled his enormous promise on the field, has embarrassed him at every turn, and was openly defiant of previous coach Jim Mora. Mora's replacement, Bobby Petrino, was brought in from the University of Louisville largely because it was thought that he can both coach and control Atlanta's maverick star. Oops.
Now, the Falcons have a huge hunk of dog doo-doo on their collective shoe -- and a backup quarterback, Joey Harrington, with less than All-Pro credentials.
It couldn't be more fitting that Atlanta's training camp will open in August -- the Dog Days.