Found February 05, 2013 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
Philadelphia_eagles_v_bd8f
KANSAS CITY, Mo. The wound is old. Old and deep. Soul-deep. Rob Chesser cant stand Michael Vick. Because when he thinks of Michael Vick, it opens up this little scar. It breaks his heart into a million tiny pieces, like a light bulb underfoot. Because when he thinks of Michael Vick, he cant help but remember Toby. Those eyes. That face. Holy geez, that face. "This poor dog was like hamburger," Chesser says. Rob had gotten a call from a shelter in Sedalia, Mo., years ago, asking for help. A pit bull, theyd said. Young, male, badly wounded. Based on the bite marks, probably a fighter. "He was the nicest dog," Chesser continues. "He looked like a cartoon. It was a joke. They needed to do a 100 stitches." Chesser is the treasurer and one of the co-founders of Missouri Pit Bull Rescue (or MPR), a non-profit based in greater Kansas City. Rob and his wife, Veronique, launched MPR in 1999 in order to promote responsible pit-bull ownership, find loving homes for rescues, and teach locals about the breed. Theyre also Chiefs fans, and this is where things start to get, as they say on Facebook, complicated. Because the more the couple starts to do the math in their heads, the more uneasy they become. The Chiefs need a quarterback. Actually, they need several. The Chiefs new coach, Andy Reid, is on record as a Vick fan after their sometimes-fruitful partnership in Philadelphia between 2009-12. Vick is under contract with the Eagles through 2017. But its a hefty contract, on a club thats looking to shed some payroll. No worries: The Chiefs reportedly had at least 16 million in cap room at the start of last season. Plus, its shaping up to be a weak quarterback draft, which means "Its making way too much sense for my comfort," Chesser says. To that end, MPR recently launched something of a small pre-emptive strike, just in case Vick, who served 21 months in prison for financing an interstate dog fighting ring and who admitted to playing a role in the death of at least a half-dozen the aforementioned dogs, lands on the Chiefs off-season shopping list. Last month, Veronique set up an online petition "Tell the Kansas City Chiefs That We Do Not Want Michael Vick" at the web site www.causes.com. As of early Tuesday morning, the petition had received 2,853 signatures. "Shes tried to reach out to the Chiefs to say, 'Hey, we dont want this,'" Chesser says. "I have conflicting thoughts on this whole thing. When someone goes to prison, theyve paid their dues, they should be given a chance (at redemption). "Were not saying he should be banned for life or imprisoned indefinitely. But I dont really want him as a part of the Chiefs. Let him go have his life, live his life as a normal person, not this life in pro football." Vick is reportedly due a 3-million roster bonus on if hes still an Eagle through Wednesday, although the team reportedly isnt expected to make a decision on the veteran signal-caller until next month. Free agency is slated to begin in earnest on March 11; Chesser says his wife has, in the meantime, been encouraging MPR members to write to the Chiefs to voice their concerns. Not the least of which is this: One of greater Kansas Citys largest animal shelters, where several pit bulls currently reside, sits roughly 1.2 miles from Arrowhead Stadium. Thats a potentially awkward public-relations headache for an organization thats already weathered too many of them over the past six months. Plus, MPR isnt the only local organization thats wary of Vick reuniting with Reid. "The Kansas City Chiefs know this is a great town, not just for football fans but for animal lovers, and Im sure they will keep that in mind when they make their decision," Cynthia Smith, president of Wayside Waifs, another Kansas City rescue group, said in a written statement. "We have rescued and rehabilitated many animals injured from dog fighting in the Kansas City area. The most positive thing football fans can do is adopt a shelter animal to sit on the couch with them and share the excitement of the new season." Vick is a tricky subject for shelters and rescue organizations around town; while the signal-callers personal narrative and presence raises awareness of the ills of animal abuse, it also heightens the publicity for pit bulls as a breed. And for pits, as theyre often called, more publicity usually means bad publicity: The dogs are already banned throughout much of the Kansas side of the metro and in several communities on the Missouri side. Chessers mission is to dispel myths, educate the populace did you know "Petey" from the "The Little Rascals" was a pit? and find rescue homes that fit. Like many pit-bull advocates, Rob grew up with the breed, which is renowned for its loyalty as much as its physical power. Comedian Jon Stewart is a pit bull owner; so is celebrity chefhost Rachael Ray. Hellen Keller had one, for pitys sake. "We often times, talking to those who say, I want a pit bull, we often talk them out of it," says Rob, whos got a two of his own. "We (try to get them) to realize what they want is a Labrador retriever that they (can) take to the dog park we promote being super, uber-responsible. Weve had enough with the breed already. We dont want to set the breed up for failure." Fortunately, MBRs winning percentage is pretty darned good in that regard. Tobys victory proved especially satisfying, one of Robs all-time favorites. MBR eventually found a home for him with a family in north Kansas City, casting him into the waiting arms of a couple that already owned a female pit. "This dog had been like someone had sliced razor blades, sliced him all over the place, it was like nothing wed ever seen," Rob says. "He was a fantastic dog and he turned out to be an amazing pet." Those eyes. That face. Holy geez, that face. How could you forget, much less forgive? "Thats a great question," Rob says. Then he pauses. "And its a terrible answer." Another autumn of Matt Cassel would be hard on Chessers eyes, granted, but kinder on his conscience. Its an old wound. All he asks of the Chiefs is to not pour salt in it. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
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