In 2007, Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick was busted for running a dog-fighting ring in Surry County, Virginia. It was alleged that Vick and his associates organized bouts at the Bad Newz Kennels, bet on the fights — and executed the dogs.
The nation was divided. Dog lovers were appalled to learn that canines had apparently been hanged, drowned, and even electrocuted. Sympathizers argued that Vick and his fellow defendants had grown up in a culture that condoned the blood sport. Like in most debates, there were no easy answers.
Angling for a light sentence, Vick pleaded guilty, swearing that he’d never a) gambled on the bouts, or b) killed any dogs. But during sentencing, he ran into trouble when a drug test turned up traces of marijuana in his blood. He was sentenced to 23 months in prison.
This didn’t sit well with the Falcons, who in 2004 had signed Vick to a 10-year contract worth $160 million. Vick has been suspended by the NFL, and ordered to pay back the Falcons a portion of his earnings. In July 2008, Vick filed for bankruptcy. — Charles Bottomley
Everyone wants to win. Yet most people wouldn’t go as far as clobbering the competition into submission with a “collapsible metal baton.” But then most people aren’t as desperate or vicious as figure-skating pariah Tonya Harding.
In 1994, the 23-year-old World silver-medalist played a key role in the crude attack on Nancy Kerrigan, a gorgeous goody-goody who was the figure skating equivalent of Snow White, and who Harding believed was her biggest obstacle to Olympic gold. A thug, hired on behalf of the high-school dropout, pounded a club into Kerrigan’s knee as she exited the ice after an Olympic trials run-through in Detroit. After Harding’s bodyguard squealed that she and her creepy husband masterminded the attack, the press went ballistic, milking the good girl/bad girl stereotype for all it was worth.
Nothing good came of Harding’s malicious envy. Although she later dodged jail-time by pleading guilty, she was stripped of her title and banished from the sport. When we last saw Harding, she had traded in her skates for boxing gloves and was trading blows with the equally sleazy Paula Jones.
A funny thing happened to Barry Bonds on his way to the all-time MLB HR record. His head ballooned to the size of three bowling balls, his arms swelled to the size of tree trunks, and fans and the media alike began to speculate that Bonds, one of baseball’s greatest players, was jacked up on the juice. Gee, you think?
When not kicking his pregnant wife or refusing to license his likeness, the San Francisco Giant outfielder was supposedly smearing “flaxseed oil” and “rubbing balm” on his chest and neck, according to grand jury testimony he gave in 2003. Bonds denied ever using steroids to prosecutors, which was mighty suspicious, considering that his former trainer, Greg Anderson, was later charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes, including baseball players. The U.S. government evidently doubted Bonds’s testimony as well, and, in 2007, indicted him on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.
Now Bonds is the first home-run king to have an asterisk by his record. Even the 756th ball he knocked out of Candlestick Park has an asterisk drawn on it, placed there by designer Marc Ecko before he handed it over to the Hall of Fame. — Charles Bottomley
[Photos: Barry Bonds speaks at a news conference after hitting his 756th home run on Aug. 7, 2007. At left: Bond’s historic home run ball.]
Let’s pour one out for the latest random Hollywood couple to call it quits. Kate Hudson and Lance Armstrong have ended their magical love affair. It’s shocking, considering all the things they had in common, like their bank accounts and…their money. They were practically the same person! Still, we are relieved to know that there is now animosity or anger between the two, says a pal, “just sadness.”
We know who’s not sad right now – the single celebs standing in line waiting to date these two. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long just broke up, wouldn’t it be fun if they each rebounded with Lance and Kate? They’re all running out of famous people to bone and they gotta get their drama fix from somewhere! [Us]