Keidel: Lawrence Taylor Or Michael Vick – Who’s Your Favorite Bad Guy?

By Jason Keidel
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Some of you are appalled by the applause Lawrence Taylor recently received at the Meadowlands, recalling his recent interlude with Johnny Law.

I respect your opinion – as long as you’re not wearing a Michael Vick jersey when you express it.

This LT uproar forces us into the realm of relativism, which is always tricky, prickly, and perilous. Vick is now hailed as heroic because, well, I don’t know why. The man slaughtered a civilization of dogs just for kicks.

Many of Vick’s apologists say those of us who are less understanding of Vick’s actions don’t understand the cultural mandate that spawns such behavior. What culture is that? Men with $100 million contracts to play football? Men whose jerseys sell more than any other? This idea that urban life or any ghetto forces men to train pit bulls to kill each other is obscene.

It’s impossible to defend Taylor’s conduct since he retired, but before the latest scandal, Taylor hurt largely himself. He had intercourse with an underage prostitute who (according to Taylor) told him she was 19. Now Taylor must register as a low-risk sex offender. There is a difference between a fool and felon, though the former football great is closing the gap every year.

But when did Taylor become Charles Manson? The people applauding Taylor Monday night weren’t lauding the man as currently constituted or signing off on his rap sheet. My guess is they tipped their caps to better times, to the immortal player before he became painfully mortal.

We all agree that rape is a wretched crime, but Taylor was never charged with it. And if I must choose between a man who made a drunken faux pas with a young woman who was younger than she let on and a man who willfully choked, drowned, and electrocuted hundreds of dogs? You got it. And it’s agonizing to see the thousands of No. 7 jerseys hopping up and down like piano keys every time Vick makes a good play. Apparently, that’s all right, but clapping during Taylor’s cameo Monday night is unacceptable.

I clap even harder for Cris Collinsworth. During Sunday night’s Eagles-Falcons game, Al Michaels made the assertion that there are some who won’t ever forgive Vick for his crimes. Collinsworth said, “Well, let’s be honest, what he did was pretty horrendous.” I can’t believe he had the stones to say it. Collinsworth’s candor made me applaud with more fervor, made me stomp and light a match and howl harder than any play I will see this year short of my beloved black & gold winning the Super Bowl. And if you’re a member of the “They’re just dogs” camp, please turn this page.

We can go on and on with this, from Leonard Little to Donte Stallworth: two men who spent a combined four months in jail for killing people with their vehicles while intoxicated. The NFL, which prides itself on its prerogative as America’s game, its shield doubling as the emblem of dignity, has an odd filter when admitting men into its sport.

Sorry if it sounds like I’m calling Taylor a solid citizen. He’s not. But let’s not be so selective in which rotten eggs we root for. Is a man pardoned in public opinion simply because he can still play? If LT were still active would you be so quick to criticize? If Vick lost any part of his arsenal of athletic genius, would you still love him?

What’s acceptable and what isn’t? Well, that’s up to you. But please consider the cluster of convicts who have whisked through the turnstiles of your favorite franchise. You’ll find people worse than Lawrence Taylor, and more accomplished criminals – like Mike Vick.

Feel free to email me:

What do you make of the LT hubbub? Do you agree with Keidel’s stance on Vick? Be heard in the comments below…

  • JK

    You’ve been awfully quiet since your team and beloved QB gagged to a far inferior Giants team yesterday. Enjoy season #52 without a title. Karma is, well, you know. Or maybe you don’t when you worship a mass dog murderer.

    • Brian

      I hope you are not directing this comment to me. You can’t be serious.

  • Brian

    I will, especially the Eagles’ season. Seeing as though I explained the whole mind reading comment and invited you to prove me wrong, which you never did, thanks for showing that those “superhuman” powers of mine have some truth in them afterall. Glad I was able to prove my point.

    • JK

      I love your need to be “right” over inherently subjective issues. You originally came off as an objective observer in search of truth, when in fact you’re an Eagles (and Vick) shill who sees victory in a rather warped way. I think it has been 51 years since the Eagles won the NFL title. I look forward to another 50 winless years, with Vick’s karma leading the way. Good luck. Make sure you wash your No. 7 Snuggie at least once a week. ;)

      • Brian

        Wow! In search of truth…..don’t make me laugh. I always knew the truth on this matter. A shill? Seriously? Im not always right, but in this case the truth is the truth. It is what it is. Every opinion I expressed, along with every point I made I supported with the reason I feel that particular way. You, on the other hand have chosen to continue deflecting from my main question. Why do you feel Michael Vick should not have been reinstated back into the NFL? Can you answer that? As much as I would like to hear your answer, I don’t anticipate you will give me one. I’ve debated this issue with many people and they all have a breaking point at which their theories begin to fall apart. I never said I was “right”, I said I proved my point. I even asked you to prove me wrong. This is not really an issue with who’s right and who’s wrong, but being a writer, I expected a little more from you as to the reasons you feel the way you do. If you don’t want to write that, that’s fine, but don’t make this about me because I have nothing to do with your thoughts or your willingness to express them. This is your article so I’ll give you the last word because I’m done debating you about this. Like I said, my point was proven a LONG time ago.

        • JK

          All that was proved, sir, was your blatant bias toward a grotesque person imprisoned for an unconscionable crime. And, by all means, if you dislike my view or my writing, I urge you to look elsewhere for your sports entertainment. I will somehow survive without you. I hope.

  • Lawrence the Loser

    I’m far from a football fan but if I was Lawrence Taylor would NOT be my pick.He’s a perverted pig who apparently didn”t take the time to “get some” from his wife before he left home and apparently couldn”t wait to get home so he had sex in a hotel with an underage girl/prostitute. He’s a pig, assuming this girl had AIDS and he has now infected his wife. His thinking and his game is whack.

  • TomB,,, Las Vegas

    There are very few people I hate more than VIck or any dog fighters. Simple, weak minded “people” who have no guts fight dogs. If they had any balls at all they’d fight themselves but they dont,. If thats your “culture” ,,, then your culture blows. If one of Vicks dogs got a concussion during a fight, that POS would have electrocuted it to death. Vick just gets to sit on a bench and see a doctor. Grow a pair and get in the ring if youre such a bad ass.

  • Acesun

    IMHO Whatever these guys did in their personal life, does not take away or erase what they did on the grid-iron, this goes for O.J. and even Reggie Bush. It’s dumb to even try to use their personal down-fall to cloud their individual accomplishments on the field.

    While I won’t put any of them on a pedestal, you have to be ignorant to try and defame their football accomplishments because of what happened off the field.

    Nothing Lt does off the field can change the fact that he revolutionzied the OLB/DE position. Even with Bush returning his heisman, everyone knows who the best player in the NCAA ’05 season was, look at the statistics. Even though Plaxico shot himself and endangered others, he still caught the winning TD in SB 42… You don’t have to respect or like these people, but yu must respect what they did on the field, peace.

  • Robert Richardson

    I don’t think one can compare the immature,miscellaneous, misdemeanor activities of “Green #17” to the rest mentioned here.

    • True Blue

      Pardon me, sir, but you don’t get thrown into Rikers for immature miscellaneous misdemeanors. He discharged a weapon inside a nightclub. Accidental or on purpose, that’s more than just a misdemeanor.

      • Robert Richardson

        I stand corrected, I was wrong Mr. True Blue. I misunderstood you and thought you were referring to Mr. Holmes. I plain forgot the Plaxico is now a NY Jet. We were all lucky that his “felonious” action caused harm only to himself. However, his action was out of immature, stupidity as opposed to a planned “criminal enterprise”. Don’t hate the Jets, let them play their game; as you play yours.

    • JK

      Great to hear from you, Robert, as always…

  • True Blue

    A crime is a crime is a crime. To Mr. Keidel’s point: Don’t wear a Vick jersey if you are going to criticize the Giants for honoring LT as part of the 86 Giants.
    And that also goes for all of the blathering Jet fans sporting their newly minted #17 home green. Don’t criticize LT or the Giants while wearing the jersey of your convicted felon WR. You are the Mets of the NFL: a poorly run franchise with a headline-hungry oaf for a coach. The NYG organization has more class than you could ever comprehend.

    • JK

      Heh. I won’t get into the best (or noblest) team in NY debate, but you characterized my argument perfectly with your first sentence, True Blue.

  • DavidC

    you people are hypocrates…you guys would eat & drink animals (chickens, cows)
    You don’t condemn people that hunt and kill aniimals but michael vick kills some dogs and the whole world ends..?
    give me a freaking break..
    this country is so backwards sometimes…

    • JK

      With all due respect, David, I don’t think it’s fair to compare eating a steak to torturing pets. Is that what you’re doing?


        Ummm…do you not think its FAIR because it applies to you. Of course DavidC is correct. You chomp on steak every weekend so I guess your sicker than VIck is at least he didn’t EAT THE DOGS. You eat cows and keep in mind in India you would have been worse off than VICK for eating a cow.

        • JK

          My apologies. I thought I was dealing with a rational human. I’m clearly not. Good luck, I guess.

  • C. Rice

    Sorta like “who’d ya rather- Adolph Hitler or Mussolini.”

    • JK

      A bit harsh, C. Rice, but your point is taken…

  • Bill in NJ

    Vick is a low life wanna be thug that torchered and killed dogs because he says he didn’t know it was wrong just like other low life thugs. Thugs that make money off the suffering of people and animals, thugs that never worked an honest day in their lives. Thugs that will take your money, your car or your life because they thnk it’s owed to them. Now correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t Vick making a pretty good living as a starting NFL QB at the time? What was he doing involved with dog fighting? Try to keep up the rep as a thug bad ass???? He never should have been allowed back in the NFL. Do any of you genius’ think that you would get your job back with a raise after serving time????!

    • Brian

      He didn’t get his job back. He got another job with another team. And as far as a raise, he was paid the league minimum for a QB, which was 1.6M while he was 10s of millions in debt. Also, he was a third string QB. Never be let back into the NFL? Why? While dogfighting may be horrible, what does that have to do with football? Michael Vick is where he is today because he earned it. You can’t realistically say that somebody gave him anything. He worked his way back to the level he is today and the Eagles paid what they owed to him.

      • JK

        Though you guys disagree, you both make good points. Bill is correct in that there isn’t one employer I’ve ever had who would have taken me back after a dogfighting conviction. And Brian is correct in that a man is worth what a team will pay him. I don’t think playing in the NFL is a right but rather a privilege. But, luckily for Vick, I don’t make the rules. Heh.

        • Brian

          In regard to the “employer taking you back” argument; You have to factor in who got convicted, the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. If Michael Vick was a cashier at Wal-Mart, this case would be no big deal and definitely wouldn’t have garnered national attention. If you were applying for a job or seeking your old job after a criminal conviction of something that has nothing to do with your job description, I don’t see why you couldn’t get that job. Michael Vick has gainful employment. While it may not be a “normal” job, it is still a job. Most people don’t consider themselves privileged to be employed, but rather a mutually beneficial relationship between a person and a company. A persons wages or salary doesn’t determine a privilege. The NFL doesn’t issue character contracts (Here’s an extra 5 million for just being a nice guy off the field) they issue contracts based on performance among other things. If you were the Head Coach of the Eagles, would you rather have Michael Vick at QB, or some other guy for no other reason than he’s just a nice guy off the field? I understand that some people will never get passed what he did, and they are well within their rights to feel that way. I just wish those people could take a closer look at who he is today, rather than dwelling on who he was nearly 5+ years ago.

          • KPMc

            You think if i commit a felony today? A reprehensible one like torturing dogs while running a GAMBLING ring, do you think my job will be here when I get out?

            Keep making excuses so you can root for a POS. Or better yet. just man up and say F’ You. I’d have more respect for you then.

            • Brian

              Was his job there when he got out prison? Did he go right back to a 130 Million dollar QB for the Atlanta Falcons? Exactly. He was fired by his employer (the Falcons) and got another job with a new employer (the Eagles). If you worked for any company, and you were found to have fought dogs, I’m willing to bet you never would have been sent to prison in the first place and your job would have never been in jeopardy. What excuse did I make for Vick? I support Michael Vick, yes. He’s an incredible athlete and he leads the most explosive and entertaining football team in the NFL. You clearly hold on to a lot of negative energy, but whether you like it or not Michael Vick has earned the right to be in the position he is in today. Your hate for Michael Vick in regard to something that happened more than 5 years ago, really identifies some deeper underlying issues than dofighting. Since Vick has been an Eagle, what one thing……JUST ONE THING has he done that you have a problem with?

              • JK

                With all due respect, Brian, I feel you oversimplify the argument. No, he wasn’t assured a job with Atlanta upon his return, but we all knew the NFL – his employer – would give him another chance because of his athletic genius. And the fact that he’s not running a dogfighting ring now doesn’t mean we should forget that he once did. Again, I fully support the notion that Vick has a right to earn a living, just not in the NFL. In either case, it has been a great debate and I thank all of you for it.

                • Brian

                  We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I don’t feel I oversimplify anything. Michael Vick served his time, something celebrities rarely EVER have to do. For what reason should he have been banned from the NFL forever? That’s all I’m asking and no one has an answer because it’s going to be fueled by jealousy and envy. Justice is served in the court of law, not the court of public opinion. My point in regard to the employer factor was that the social status of Michael Vick cannot be compared to a regular person seeking employment. It’s just not logical. The only reason people say he shouldn’t be back in the NFL is because of the potential to make the money that he has now made, which in turn is the gateway to a luxurious lifestyle that you feel he doesn’t deserve. It’s not the job itself but the millions of dollars and fame that comes with it that you don’t like. People need to stop acting like Vick needs your individual forgiveness or personal exoneration for his actions. Every day Vick has been proving that letting him back in the NFL was the right decision. Finally, you’re right… don’t have to forget what he did, but what are you accomplishing by holding on to it?

                • JK

                  Now you’re engaging in mind-reading and putting words in my mouth, sir. I’m neither jealous nor envious of Mr. Vick. God gave me a talent to write about such matters and I’m happy with it. We are allowed to dislike something or someone sans ancillary motives.

                  You ask what I have to gain by rooting against him. I can ask the same of you. What do you have to gain by defending him?

                  You took a perfectly good debate and made it bad by resorting to the lowest form of dialogue – insulting us simply because we don’t agree with you. A shame, because you heretofore expressed your ideas with intelligence and dignity.

                • Brian

                  I guess its just a coincidence that I couldn’t reply to your last comment below. I’m not insulting people who disagree with me. You yourself said “I fully support the notion that Vick has the right to earn a living, just not in the NFL.” I respect all accurately reflected opinions however, once you begin to dictate the terms in which a person should be allowed to earn a living, I feel that is overstepping the boundaries.

                  You then say I’m mind reading and putting words in your mouth. To be honest, you are absolutely right. I am assuming that jealousy and envy are the two biggest contributing factors in not wanting him playing pro football. However, I didn’t mean that specifically to just you, but people in general who feel that way. Now while you say Im mind reading, and to some extent you are correct, I notice that you still never expressed a reason why you feel he shouldn’t have been reinstated back into the National Football League. Of course you don’t have to tell me or anyone else and you’re well within you’re rights to keep that to yourself if you please, but I made that assumption to challenge you on that particular point though. I could understand people not wanting him back in the NFL in ’09 when he got out of prison because most people didn’t know what type of person he would be. Now that he’s been back for a few seasons and has shown he is a different person both on and off the field, I can’t really see why someone would still have a problem with him playing in the NFL.

                  What do I get out of defending Vick? lol…..I don’t “get” anything. Im just glad to see a man bounce back from such a low point in his life (though it was self inflicted), and taking advantage of an opportunity to do things better than he did before. That’s all I wanted to see from him. He had a tremendous fall from grace that included the loss of 100 million dollars and 2 years in Federal Prison. I don’t defend what he did, but I commend him for trying to straighten his life out and do thing s the right way.

              • JK

                I don’t control the comments. The filters come from up high. I’m just an ignorant writer. My power is rather limited. You’re not the first to complain about this issue, and I’ve submitted said complaints to my superiors.

                Anyway, the debate was great until you were imbued with superhuman powers heretofore reserved from Professor X. Enjoy the football season, sir.

  • Kurt Spitzner


  • Oscar E

    Then make a statement and 1) don’t watch the games, 2) don’t attend/take your kids to games, 3) don’t buy any NFL merchandise, 4) don’t patronize bars that show games, 5) don’t purchase any packages to watch games during the season and 6) don’t buy anything from any company that airs ads during the game. I’m sorry, is that too much? You can’t complain about the hero worship when you are part and parcel of the machine that drives the demand curve that allows these guys to play and command 9-figure contracts. At least Vick went to jail and is distancing himself from grown men who call themselves “P-funk”.

    And it’s not just limited to football, my friends.

    • JK

      I’m not sure I get your point, Oscar, with all due respect. Are you suggesting we don’t watch games because of people like Vick? I’m not being facetious; I just want to understand your argument.

  • Linda B

    At least Vick admitted his guilt and went to prison, did his time and got out. Stallworth gets 30 days for KILLING SOMEONE (DUI manslaughter). Leonard Little also KILLED someone and got to play in the Superbowl, and there are tons more things that happen which get swept under the rug (domestic abuse, statutory rape, sexual assault a-la Roethlisberger). Gimme a break… Get off Vick’s back. At least he admitted his guilt and is moving forward to put his thugnificent past behind him, unlike LT who seems to slip and fall into his own puddle of stupid over and over again.

    • JK

      With all due respect, Linda, the men you mentioned aren’t mutually exclusive. We’re allowed to criticize Vick even if others have committed more heinous crimes.

      And I don’t think you properly portray Vick’s case. He admitted guilt because he had no choice. There were mountains of evidence (like dog bones in his backyard) and testimony of former friends who put Vick as the ringleader of the whole thing.

      Sure, he could have gone to trial, but his lawyers knew he would still be in prison had he not cut a deal.

  • Chris

    They both have done wrong, one thing that I don’t like is the constant references to Lawrence Taylor as a rapist. He was found to be guilty of statutory rape but let’s stop acting like he sexually assaulted someone.

    He called for a hooker who turned out to be under age, it isn’t the same thing.

    Michael Vick tortured and killed defenseless animals, that’s one of the signs of a serial killer.

    • JK

      Agreed, Chris. Taylor was neither convicted nor accused of rape. I admit I think Vick is a wretched person, but I detest the hypocrites who pound Taylor and praise Vick merely because he still plays and produces for their team.

    • JK

      Agreed, Chris. Taylor was neither convicted nor accused of that crime. Some folks are inherently melodramatic, and toss that term around until it sticks. A shame they don’t actually follow the facts.

  • Robert Richardson

    JK you gave us a case study into the hero worshiping aspect of the American psyche. A sick, twisted, pop culture, media behemoth driven by greed, moral decay, unfulfilled expectations … you name it. A world turned upside down where “our” anointed ones are held to a lower standard of conduct and gets them “passes”. This a world where the real heroes who sweat and die for us get only a mere mention while those who just entertain receive unconditional adulation. I’m not going to compare the aforementioned athletes, nor will I judge them. I do believe that all human beings have moral flaws and deserve to be forgiven with genuine efforts at redemption. I couldn’t help to analogize our misplaced values between who deserves our attention and “worship” Great article JK !!!!

    • Victor Cruz

      You’re an idiot! These guys give us life. What would our everyday lives be without them to give us substance. You sound like some Obama lovin Liberal

      • JK

        I must say Victor provides the oddest comments. I never know when he’s serious.

  • Susie

    Both are bad guys in my opinion. I don’t think media time should be wasted on them.

    • JK

      Obviously, I disagree, Susie. I think these cases are instructive.

  • Jesse Faulkner

    uhh i guess the guy who isnt the rapist, but im not sure…….

    • JK

      Neither is a rapist, Jesse. At least neither has been convicted of that crime.

  • Marc Weiss

    Gr8 article. As I have always contended, LT NEVER killed anyone or any being. Vick is a sociopath who just happens to have the fastest legs in football. LT hurt only himself during his playing days and to be honest who has he really hurt since other than his wife and his family. I applauded him not for the person he is, but for being the reason this team won 2 Super Bowls in 5 years and became relevant again. I’m kind of shocked that a celeb like LT would even have to get a hooker. I always thought sports guys could pick up girls just on who they are. Glad to see he’s become more normal I guess :)

    • JK

      Thanks Marc. Regarding your surprise over celebrities patronizing hookers, two words: Hugh Grant! ;)

  • Mook

    Taylor didn’t hurt anyone but himself. Pro athletes patronizing hookers? How novel. No one has ever heard of that before. Or do we so quickly forget all the revelations about our Ewing era Knicks?

    • JK

      I don’t think folks take issue with Taylor buying the services of a prostitute, Mook. The outrage is over her age. To me, it all hinges on whether she told him she was 19. Assuming Taylor’s telling the truth, how could he have known otherwise short of asking her for a passport?

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