Michael Vick – My Game Went To the Dogs – How One Choice Brought An Unexpected Consequence

Most everywhere you turn when looking at sports these days you’ll see and hear stories about the prosecution of Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons football star quarterback. Expecting to be prepared to advance his career, Vick is now considering his options as to whether to accept the government’s plea deal.

As stated in the White Collar Crime Prof Blog, “A best-case scenario for Vick that the defense lawyers may be seeking is a “Martha Stewart” double-nickel sentence: five months in prison, five months of home confinement. The government’s offer would most likely call for a term of a year-and-a-day, which under the Bureau of Prisons guidelines would allow Vick to receive a 15% good time credit, reducing his sentence by 54 days to a bit over ten months. Any sentence under a year that his attorneys are trying to negotiate would have to come in under ten months for it to be an advantage because there is no good time credit if the sentence is a year or less.” http://www.chuckgallagher.com

Not only does it look difficult for Vick, but others who were charged in this Federal dog fighting conspiracy accepted plea agreements and decided to cooperate with the government. So, at this writing, it would seem that Vick is in the proverbial “dog house.” His actions have had multiple and far reaching consequences.

It seems that Nike and Reebok have given Vick the boot. According to ESPN.com news services, “Nike suspended its lucrative contract with Michael Vick on Friday, while Reebok took the unprecedented step of stopping sales of his No. 7 jersey.” Likewise, Donruss, a major trading card company pulled Vick from future releases and Upper Deck removed autographed material from its on-line stores. And finally, Rawlings decided to end its relationship with Vick due to the conspiracy charges. All of these changes have huge financial implications.

All of the above consequences came directly as a result of Vick seeming to enjoy a non-football passion – dog fighting. Now the question that is worth reviewing is did Vick at any time give any serious consideration to the consequences of his illegal actions? I can imagine that he saw this as a sport (perhaps one that isn’t recognized), but to him a testosterone filled pastime. After all what harm can come from fighting pit bulls? Apparently a lot!

Once you look past the surface abuse of animals (a big issue for PETA), the fact it’s an illegal activity, etc., you’ll find that Vick rationalized his behavior just like any of us who have been convicted of an illegal action. I am convinced that Martha Stewart, for example, had no clue that her choice to sell stock on a tip from her broker was going to end in a prison sentence. The fact is that many an unsuspecting person may make choices that can have immediate or prolonged consequences in unexpected ways.
The consequences of actions are not limited to activities that folks even understand are illegal. Take for example, Genarlow Wilson, a young man who is incarcerated for 10 years for his sexual activity with a minor. His case has received national attention, yet, even after the law that convicted him was changed, he remains in prison. Whether the consequence is fair isn’t always relevant. What is a fact is EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

The Choices Foundation, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to teaching young people the relationship between choices and consequences. “If we can impress on the mind of our youth the direct correlation between what we choose and the consequences that follow, perhaps we can help them avoid consequences like those Michael Vick are facing,” stated Choices Foundation founder Chuck Gallagher.

In a presentation to a youth group not long ago, one young man stated, “Well, it’s not dishonest if you don’t get caught.” Attitudes like that are what empowers people to make unethical decisions and expect no direct consequence. From my personal experience, I know that one can rationalize a choice all day long and it doesn’t color the action or change the consequence. “My actions left me incarcerated in Federal prison, an experience I will never forget.,” stated Gallagher.

As a motivational speaker and ethics keynote speaker, Chuck Gallagher shares his experience in a way that connects with his audience, whether a business executive group or a youth group from a university. http://www.chuckgallagher.com “Understanding the effect of Choices and Consequences from one who directly knows can be powerful and an influence for ethical behavior.” Perhaps, when the smoke clears, Vick can see the effect clearly from the choices he made. And maybe, just maybe, Vick will use his powerful influence for good, helping those who have looked up to him understand that Every Choice Has A Consequence!