When it showed up on my Twitter feed, I thought it was a joke. Michael Vick, the onetime NFL star who went to jail, while his public image went to the dogs, after being convicted of particularly disgusting acts of cruelty to animals, is reportedly in talks to become a public spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Ad Age weighs the pros and cons of a possible PETA gig as one step in a long-term image rehab for the disgraced NFL player. If he’s sincere – which is a big “if”, considering how he handled the matter when the news broke, it does seem like a creative way for Vick to fight his way back into society, and possibly the League. What could be more buzzworthy, or more potentially useful, than a public conversion to PETA spokesperson by such an infamous figure?
But what strikes me as even more exciting is what a potential Vick partnership could do for PETA. The group is certainly no stranger to buzz, but some of its attention-grabbing tricks, like dousing fur-coat-wearers with animal blood or dumping a dead raccoon on Anna Wintour’s luncheon plate, have earned it a fringey, left-of-center image that doesn’t entirely mesh with mainstream America. In fact, its purported interest in Vick may just be more of the same, since it’s been insisting Vick be tested for psychopathology and has been petitioning the NFL not to readmit him.
Yet, a truly cooperative partnership with Vick, a fallen icon from the quintessential all-American spectator sport, could drive more mainstream social acceptance for PETA even as it does the same for Vick. It’s definitely the craziest idea I’ve heard today. Crazy…but brilliant.