'Supporting Our Own': Blacks Split on Michael Vick

Animal activist's sign

An animal rights activist holds a sign near the Atlanta Falcons training camp in Georgia supporting the ouster of NFL star quarterback Michael Vick. Getty Images hide caption

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NFL quarterback Michael Vick plans to plead guilty to federal dogfighting charges next week. The case has ignited a spirited public debate.

Is support for Vick in the black community based solely on his race, or on a broader belief that he's just the latest high-profile black man to be vilified in the media?

NPR correspondent Allison Keyes moderates a discussion with Michael Eric Dyson, author and Georgetown University professor; Mark Gray, radio host of Sports Groove on WOL-AM; and Katheryn Russell-Brown, author and law professor at the University of Florida.

Fans React to Vick's Guilty Plea in Dogfighting Case

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick agreed to plead guilty to federal dogfighting charges Monday, nearly a month after he pleaded not guilty in federal court in Virginia. The plea agreement struck a mixture of disappointment and relief around Atlanta.

The Atlanta Falcons have tried to minimize the impact on the team — and the constant talk about Vick. How the team and the league will punish the young quarterback is unclear. They're waiting to see the plea agreement next week before deciding what action to take.

Vick and three others were charged in July with two counts of dogfighting. The other men have already agreed to plea deals. The charges included allegations that the men killed animals that did not perform well by hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog to the ground.

Atlanta fans have been split over Vick since the indictment. Some were angry from the start that their star athlete could be involved in such vicious activity. Some didn't believe it. And others, like Don Frisbee, who works for the Department of Corrections, gave Vick the benefit of the doubt.

"I was leaning toward innocent until proven guilty, but if he has pled guilty, then I don't think he should ever play for the NFL again," Frisbee says.

Vick was not only the Falcons' star player but also one of the most exciting players in the NFL.

On a sports talk-radio program in Atlanta known as Two Live Stews, hosts Doug and Ryan Stewart and their callers have questioned the charges. Now the Stews are debating how the case will play out in the long term: "The day he gets out of prison, I'd shake his hand and let him come play quarterback for me."

But no matter their opinion, many fans say it's sad and difficult to see someone with so much talent take such a big fall.

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