Aaron Rodgers was named MVP of Super Bowl XLV and all he got for winning the award was the key to a shiny, red Camaro convertible.
That is chicken feed compared to the key Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway presented to Michael Vick, the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.
The key was presented to Vick by Caraway, reportedly at a club. Caraway, however,said he was focused on “the children.” Apparently, because Mike Vick talked to some kids about staying out of trouble, Caraway felt that was an act worthy of handing out a ceremonial key to the city of Dallas.
In 2007, Michael Vick was convicted of a felony for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. He served 19 months in federal prison.
On ESPN Dallas, Caraway defended himself by saying, “The message and the kids are far greater than all this response about, ‘Why give him the key to the city?’ He is telling kids and exchanging with them the rights and wrongs of the things that he did and encouraging kids to further their education and to not deal with the drugs. To obey their parents and pick the people they hang around.
“That’s a message I would challenge anybody to say that not one kid across America shouldn’t hear from people in notoriety such as Michael Vick.”
The flap created over Caraway’s decision to honor Vick in such a way resulted in a quick response from Mayor Tom Leppert, as city hall went into damage control.
The Dallas Morning News reported on Leppert’s response:
The gesture, and the outcry that ensued, led to a quick call from Mayor Tom Leppert that the city review how council members hand out ceremonial gifts, with the clear suggestion that guidelines become more restrictive.
“We don’t condone it and clearly didn’t approve it,” Leppert said of the Vick award. “It’s unfortunate, and I would rather have not seen the situation.”
The key that Caraway gave Vick — a gold-hued, six-inch key bearing the seal of Dallas — is less than official, according to explanations from city officials.
Richard Hunter, of 1190 AM, a Dallas radio station, was covering the Michael Vick event in an official capacity. Hunter claims that he and his wife adopted one of the dogs “rescued from Vick’s dogfighting house of horrors.” He recorded the ceremony, which you can see by clicking here.
Hunter also tried to talk to Vick about the dog he had rescued, ostensibly to let Vick know how the dog was doing. He was, however, rebuffed by a bodyguard.
Hunter said, “Two questions, Mike?”
A bodyguard responded, in a rather hostile manner, “Nothing, man. He’s got nothing he wants to tell you. I am going to tell you one more time to get the (expletive) out of my face.”
Hunter says that, while one bodyguard cussed him, another physically restrained him.
Hunter called out, “You said you are worried about the dog’s, Mike. Now is your chance to talk.”
The bodyguard restraining Hunter said, “We don’t care about the dog.”
Dwaine Caraway seems to be a stand-up guy. He went on the Dunham and Miller, a very popular morning show on KTCK 1310, the Ticket, in Dallas. Caraway did not really defend himself, but explained his thought process behind his actions. Of course, as Gordon Keith aptly pointed out, Caraway “wrapped himself in the force field of ‘the children.’”
That is always a good strategy, if you can make it work. Whenever you do something really stupid, just say you were doing it for the children.
Giving the key to the city of Dallas— whether it is the real, bona fide symbol of the city’s gratitude, or some not-quite-official replica of it— ought to be more carefully considered.
Caraway admitted as much, when he said to Dunham and Miller, “I don’t think I will be giving any more keys away any time soon.”
I would recommend, in the future, Caraway consider the recipient’s resumé first. If it reads “Felon” or “Philadelphia Eagle” anywhere on it, put the key back in your pocket.