From Sam Wood of the Philadelphia Inquirer comes this predictable news: Dick’s Sporting Goods will not stock Michael Vick’s new No. 7 Eagles jersey until the chain, according to a spokesman, “evaluate(s) the reaction of Eagles fans.”
Wood quotes Jeff Hennion, Dick’s chief marketing officer, thusly: “Right now we don’t know how much of a demand there is for [the jersey]. If there is a demand for it, we’ll sell it.”
I have three words for Dick’s. Those words:
Are you serious?
The Vick jersey will be the hottest seller of the year, hotter even than Brett Favre’s purple No. 4. NFLShop.com is selling Vick’s jersey, which tells us the league itself isn’t backing away from making money off No. 7. Were Dick’s taking a iron-clad stand on moral grounds, that would be understandable. (Self-righteous, but understandable.) To suggest their stores must first test the water is merely a case of trying to cover one’s corporate assets.
Dick’s wants to be able to say to PETA: “Look, we resisted the impulse originally. We’re only doing this because our customers asked for it.” But that’s not a principled stance; that’s a weaselly one. You know you’re going to end up selling the thing, so … sell the thing already!
And it’s about time that people got past this fear of PETA. Roger Goodell did by reinstating Vick. The Eagles did by signing him. Yes, some people are going to be upset by the sight of Vick on an NFL field, but if you’re waiting for unanimity on any issue nothing would ever get done. (Ever been to a neighborhood co-op meeting?)
Frankly, the thought of that smirking prima donna donning the Viking purple upsets me more, but I’m not so outraged I’m about to picket games in Minnesota. Besides, the threat of protest is almost almost overblown. Remember Martha Burk and the Masters. Was Super Bowl XXXV derailed by demonstrators because Ray Lewis was playing a year after going on trial for murder? (Actually, Lewis wound up being the game’s MVP.)
Some folks will never forgive Michael Vick for what he did to those dogs. That’s their prerogative. But more folks, I submit, are willing to grant him a second chance, and some of those might be interested in paying $79.99 to wear his Eagles shirt. Let them.
Last I checked, this is America. Last I checked, we’re a capitalist nation.
(A shout-out to esteemed former colleague and Pulitzer winner John Woestendiek, who published the Inquirer story on his pro-dog blog Ohmidog!)