A California congressman has joined the cause against Michael
Vick, firing off a letter Friday that urged NFL commissioner Roger
Goodell to "act swiftly and forcefully" if the Atlanta Falcons
quarterback was involved in dog fighting on his former property.
U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) pointed out that he's a senior
member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which two
years ago held highly publicized hearings on the use of
performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports.
Lantos raised the prospect of government intervention if the NFL
fails to discipline Vick.
"I am outraged that one of the National Football League's
superstars is affiliated with such a heinous enterprise," Lantos
Last month, police raided a Virginia home owned by Vick and
allegedly found evidence of a major dog-fighting operation,
including dozens off malnourished and injured dogs. The quarterback
has denied any wrongdoing, and no criminal charges have been filed
Vick has since sold the home.
"The level of cruelty involved in exploiting animals to the
point that 60 malnourished and injured dogs were removed from Mr.
Vick's property is mind boggling," Lantos said. "I will view
anything less than the strongest repudiation of Mr. Vick's
involvement as tacit support for this atrocious activity."
The NFL has said repeatedly it is investigating the case to
determine if Vick violated the commissioner's tougher standards for
players who run afoul of the law. Reached Friday, Falcons spokesman
Reggie Roberts reiterated the team's policy of not commenting until
the investigation is completed.
Calling himself a longtime advocate of animal welfare, Lantos
joined two prominent animals rights groups that have called on
Goodell to suspend or ban any players involved in dog fighting.
"As evidence of Mr. Vick's involvement mounts, I implore you to
act swiftly and forcefully," the congressman wrote. "Your strong
rebuke of dog fighting -- and those who promote it -- will send the
message that this all-too-prevalent practice has no place in a
In a not-so-subtle threat of possible congressional action,
Lantos reminded the commissioner of his committee's efforts to weed
out those who use performance-enhancing drugs.
"I also suggest you educate your players on the illegality and
cruelty of dog fighting to prevent this from happening again,"
Lantos wrote. "It is my hope that the issue of animal fighting
will not require us to further investigate the behavior of your