NOAH ADAMS, host:
It's DAY TO DAY. I'm Noah Adams.
DEBORAH AMOS, host:
And I'm Deborah Amos.
These days stories of bad boy athletes running afoul of the law are so common, they're barely news. But the one this week is big news.
Michael Vick, the second highest-paid player in the National Football League, has been indicted on charges of running a dog-fighting operation on his property in Virginia. Prosecutors allege that on one occasion Vick participated in killing at least eight dogs.
Dog fighting is illegal on all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Humane Society of the United States. George Dohrmann has been covering this story for Sports Illustrated. He joins us now.
Welcome to DAY TO DAY.
Mr. GEORGE DOHRMANN (Sports Illustrated): Thanks for having me.
AMOS: When did the rumors start about Vick's involvement in dog fighting?
Mr. DOHRMANN: There was a raid on the property that he owned in Virginia. It was a raid that was connected to a drug bust involving one of his cousins. And during that raid, they found all this dog fighting equipment. They found 66 dogs. And that was when, you know, word started to leak that this is a dog-fighting operation and then the question became how connected to it was Michael Vick. And then over the last few months we've obviously seen just how connected he is.
AMOS: And were you surprised by the indictments?
Mr. DOHRMANN: Yeah, I was. I mean, I wasn't surprised that he got indicted. I think there was this idea that he would get some sort of - he had some sort of connection and that would come out. What was surprising was his level of connection.
I mean this million dollar athlete was, you know, according to the Feds, intimately involved in every step of the way, whether it was coordinating bouts, you know, attending fights, executing dogs that lost or didn't show the proper gameness to fight.
So I was surprised because I think usually when we see, you know, multi-million-dollar athletes like this involved in a crime, it's usually they're on the periphery, you know, and it's one of their, you know, entourage or something that are more involved.
AMOS: Now, these are all still allegations. Your piece is called "The House on Moonlight Road." What specifically was discovered at the house?
Mr. DOHRMANN: Well, you know, in the back - in the front of the house - it's a white kind of colonial looking house like many you'd see in Virginia. In the back of the house you had these out-buildings that were surrounded by a black fence and all the buildings were painted black.
And it was in these buildings where they found dog-fighting equipment. They found, you know, treadmills for training dogs before fights. They found, you know, break sticks for opening a dog's jaw when it's been clamped down on another animal.
They found, you know, an area in the upper level of one of these buildings that they determined was the fighting pit, where the fight actually took place. There was blood on the wall, there was a canine tooth in the bucket in the corner. To the people that were on site it was - what they saw told me was unmistakable evidence of a dog-fighting operation.
AMOS: Now, you write in your piece that Vick says this wasn't me, it was my relatives. And then you also talk about this is the country side of Vick. Talk a little bit about that.
Mr. DOHRMANN: Yeah. You know, Mike Vick grew up in a really rough neighborhood. He was surrounded by drug dealers and, you know, crime most of his life. And you know, an associate that we talked to about Vick who is very close to Vick described to us that Mike Vick wasn't a born dog fighter, but that Mike Vick got interested into this world by the people around him, the sort of country people around him, the criminals that he grew up around and who still maintained contact with him.
And so then he was sort of brought into this world by them, is what it was described to us, but then sort of got infatuated with the idea of dog fighting and then became, obviously, at least as the indictment says, a real player in that world.
AMOS: If he is found guilty of these charges, can his reputation in the NFL survive this linkage to such a cruel sport?
Mr. DOHRMANN: You know, I don't even know if he needs to be found guilty. I mean, I think that's a shame in a way, this idea that, you know, simply allegations would ruin your career. But you know, in the indictment that handed down yesterday, you know, there's 26 fights that Mike, you know, allegedly was linked to. He allegedly executed dogs.
I mean, these are things that whether you're found innocent later or charges are dropped, fans are not going to forget. Certainly owners who invest millions of dollars in their teams are not going to invest. I mean if Mike is found guilty of this, I don't envision a scenario where he plays in the NFL. And I don't even know if necessarily he has to be found to be guilty for that to play out.
ADAMS: George Dohrmann is a staff writer for Sports Illustrated. Thanks very much.
Mr. DOHRMANN: Thank you.