The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It



I love football and I can prove that. I had season tickets for the Chicago Bears for two years when Bobby Douglass was the QB and Abe Gibron coached the team. The Bears’ performance at that time gave new meaning to the hope that we Chicagoans held that the Cubs would win the World Series.

I would brave the winds to make my way to the east stands – a third of the way up –wearing my six layers of clothing, my little flask in my pocket. I figured I could use the alcohol for self-immolation in order to defrost myself from the west wind which blasted my face and through my clothing – if only I could light a match.

A typical half-time score would be Them – 42 – Us – 3. Two years of this abuse and I gave up my tickets. At least at home. where I was able to move my fingers, I could change the channel.

So I did the Bears and myself a favor. I gave up my tickets – two years before they won the Super Bowl. Maybe I was the jinx hanging over their heads.  I guess it’s true – timing is everything.

So having said that I enjoy football, allow me to explain why I haven’t watched a game – pre-season, regular season, playoff or Super Bowl for more than two years. That is because of the way the NFL handled the case of QB Michael Vick.

Mr. Vick was convicted in 2007 for helping organize and participate in an interstate dog fighting ring. He spent twenty-one months in jail for his felony conviction and a subsequent short period in home confinement. I sincerely hope that he truly was rehabilitated during the time of his incarceration.

Most Americans would agree with me that watching two dogs fight each other is an expression of our most base instincts. I have never been to one of these fights and never will go to one. My stomach seizes up at the very thought of it. There is a very simple reason – and that is the animal you see at the top of this post – a German shepherd mix named Dusty.

I found Dusty when he was about an eight-month old puppy. He had been tied with heavy wire by his throat and legs and dumped in an abandoned building. I just happened to be walking by when I heard him crying – got into the building, freed him from the wire and rescued him. At the point I made my way to him, he was trying to chew his left front leg off to get out of the wire. There was a lot of blood.

I brought him to my vet where he was treated for his injuries and held for observation while he was on intravenous solutions. We weren’t sure he would make it. But ten days after I found him my vet called and said that he could go home.

As I waited for one of the attendants to bring Dusty from the kennel I remember thinking, “What kind of mind could think up this sort of abuse – let alone do it?  If this were as far as we had evolved – we had a very long way to go.  A very long way.” 

My vet, Bill explained that Dusty was probably going to be used as a “bait dog” for a dog fight. The way people “trained” these dogs was to commit extreme acts of cruelty on the animals – in order to toughen them up. Bill had seen this before.

The “treatment” included external physical abuse.  In addition, they would starve the animal and deprive it of water. Then, after a few days of food deprivation, they would put a large bowl of food in front of their victim which was loaded with cayenne pepper.

At that point I couldn’t listen to any further description. I wanted to vomit. I paid for the hospital’s services and took Dusty home with me.

It took about two years before Dusty really trusted me. Considering his treatment as a young dog I thought that we had made very fast progress. But when he finally came to believe that I wouldn’t hurt him, he was the most faithful and devoted canine companion with whom I have had the privilege to share my life.

Dusty and I lived together for over sixteen years. He died a month short of what would have been his seventeenth birthday – or at least that was the date we established based on the day I found him and my vet’s estimate of his age. I will never forget this wonderful animal.

I am a strong proponent of business – including the business of football. The NFL, as with all professional sports leagues has, however, a special responsibility to its fans and the public.  Its players are icons and role models for our children.. When one of those players behaves badly it is the league’s responsibility to send a strong message that they will not tolerate that kind of behavior.

If a person working in the much-maligned financial services industry is convicted of a felony, as with Mr. Vick they are sentenced to time in jail.  In addition, they are banished from any further involvement in the industry for life. That would have been the appropriate punishment for Mr. Vick.  The NFL chose to follow a lesser path and re-instate him.

As we have all seen so many times and in so many situations, money usually trumps morality.

So I have been on my boycott of the NFL for two years. I know that it won’t make a difference to their bottom line – and I know that they won’t lose any advertisers because of my absence.

But it’s the least I can do to express my continuing love for my wonderful friend, Dusty.


Comments on: "NO FOOTBALL FOR ME" (12)

  1. There’s much to ponder in this piece. I’ll never forget watching Bobby Douglas play with the Bears. What a terrible passer, but what an incredible runner. You know, I had a similar reaction to a sport because of Mike Tyson. I attended a closed-circuit fight of Mr. Tyson taking on Evander Holyfield. That was the fight where Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear. What most fans don’t remember is that after the warning, Tyson did it again! What really bothered me was the way Tyson fans reacted: they cheered Tyson’s barbarity. And the ref should have instantly disqualified Tyson on the spot. He didn’t. I haven’t watched a boxing match since. Regarding Vick: he served his time; he seems sincerely contrite. I’m okay with the NFL reinstating him. Besides, the NFL has a great role model in Tim Tebow playing this weekend. You’ll like him, because he’s cut from the Bobby Douglas mode: great runner, not so great a passer. Watch the Broncos vs. the Patriots Saturday night. Let Tebow help you reconcile your feelings toward the NFL. By the way, my condolences on the passing of Dusty. What a beautiful dog.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful response. If the wind in Chicago had come from the north rather than west, some of Bobby Douglass’ passes would have ended up in Gary, Indiana. I can’t look into another person’s soul and know what he or she really feels – and that is true of Michael Vick. And I certainly am not sinless myself – so I don’t have a stone pile in the back yard ready for use. I do know that we attempt to protect our children (movie ratings being an example) from inappropriate behavior, language and situations. Although movies that are currently rated “G” would have been an “R” when I was a kid (if ratings had existed) – I think that speaks to our decline in values and standards as a nation. Based on some of your posts that I have read – I think you would agree with me. That is the basic focus of this blog – restoring values as a first step toward restoring prosperity. I respect your opinion and suggestion though I am going to decline to follow it – and I hope you respect my decision. I wish Mr. Tebow and all the other good examples in the NFL the best. I wish there were more of them in professional sports.

  3. Dusty was one beautiful dog, and what you did for him was heroic and beautiful. As you know, most people would have just walked on by. Thank you for being who you are.

    • Of the nine dogs I have had in my life, Dusty’s death was the hardest for me to bear. He was Spenser’s companion for five years and helped me raise him. I always felt that I had the responsibility to attempt to atone for the abuse he received as a puppy. I hope that in some small way I was able to do that. He was a wonderful friend and a joy to all who knew him.

  4. Wow. What a sweet dog, and it makes me so sad to read what happened to him. How can people do that? It infuriates me. How wonderful of you to rescue him, and I’m glad he was with you for a long time. Today is a sad one for our family–my younger sister’s beagle died of unknown causes. I’m glad she has another dog, who won’t understand what happened.
    How can people harm dogs, who only want to love us.

    Don’t punish the NFL. Michael Vick served his time, and I don’t think he should be vilified for the rest of his life. Too many young black men have paid for their crimes time and time again.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Donna. Give your sister a hug for me. I understand her feelings as I lost my companion Spenser on November 29th and I will mourn him for a long time – as will his surviving canine companion, Gracie.
      That there are inequities in our “justice system” is undeniable. And statistics would suggest that those inequities fall more heavily on our black citizens than others. As I pointed out – those in the financial services industry who commit felonies are banned for life. The theory is that this protects the public from that particular predator – whether they are repentant or not. Should we not hold those professional athletes, whose influence over our children is far greater, to the same standard – whatever their color?

      • Your premise that inequalities in our justice system fall more heavily on black citizens is debatable. The subject is complex. It depends on the criteria. I loathe discrimination in any form, but I don’t believe the media has reported this issue with impartiality. I may write on it on my blog soon, but I’d like to hear more from your perspective since I respect your viewpoint.

      • I appreciate your thoughtful response and I agree that the point I made is “arguable.” However, I would like to engage in that conversation (and others) with you in a different forum. Would an email correspondence be agreeable to you? If so, let me know at I hope that is amenable to you.

  5. Wow. What a heartbreaking story. So glad you found him! Dusty looks so happy in the picture. Hmm. I like this stand you’re taking. It’s gutsy. And true. Why support something that’s all about money? What a mess we’ve created…
    I’m not a big fan of sports for many reasons. Here’s one more.

    • I have never understood cruelty. I am so blessed that I was raised in a family that respected life in all its forms. When I was born there was a dog in the house. Taffy, my mom’s cocker spaniel and I became best friends. I have always respected life – whether human or not.

      Dusty was not only one of my best friends but became an obligation (although a happy one) for me. I always felt that I had the responsibility to him to prove that not all of us humans were cruel and unthinking. I always believed that I had to be more compassionate to him than either of my other two dogs – to atone for the sins of my fellow men.

      I don’t know if I succeeded – but I will never forget the first day that I offered him food – and he accepted it out without fearing me. I remember crying that day.

  6. Thank you for caring.

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