quarterback Michael Vick, who has taken pains to apologize to anyone who will listen for his role in a dog-fighting ring that sent him to prison, reportedly asked for a $100,000 fee to address the Animal Friendly Association at Richard Stockton College near Atlantic City, N.J. There's less to this story, however, than meets the eye.
This tidbit came from an anonymous three-sentence commentary published on the editorial page of Monday's Burlington County Times, a local New Jersey newspaper, as part of its feature, The Vent. In this case, however, "Bill from Florence" (full name not given), who contributed the item, didn't know what he was talking about.
Eagles spokeswoman Pamela Browner White tells DailyFinance that the story is untrue. An official from the newspaper could not immediately be reached for comment. (I wasn't able to find the item on the paper's website.)
Here is what the item says: "The Animal Friendly Association at Stockton State College asked Michael Vick to speak. He wanted $100,000 for his time. Being truly sorry must be really expensive."
Too Small a Celebrity for Such a Big Fee
Even considering the speed of the Information Age, the Burlington County Times item was so ludicrous that it should have never been published, even as part of a feature illustrated by the image of a steam-filled factory whistle to underscore the point that this column is a place where readers spout off anonymously. Many people in the Delaware Valley bleed Eagles green, so there are few stories during football season bigger than those regarding the team's stars.
Nonetheless, some perspective is in order.
For one thing, Vick couldn't earn $100,000 for a speech even if he wanted to. He's just not that big of a celebrity. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a possible presidential candidate in 2012, reportedly commands speaking fees that high. Money aside -- though Vick remains strapped for cash -- the idea that he would even consider requesting such an exorbitant fee would have been insane from a public relations standpoint. Vick has taken great pains to try to convince the public that, though he may have done very bad things, he isn't a bad person. Making demands for big money certainly wouldn't help his case.
For the record, Vick speaks regularly about the evils of dog-fighting for free, according to the Eagles and the Humane Society of the U.S.
Dead Stars, Billionaire Pitchmen and Other Internet Lies
Vick, who is due to lead the Eagles into the NFL playoffs Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, is hardly the first celebrity to be unfairly maligned by untrue gossip, and he won't be the last. False stories take odd turns on the Web.
Indeed, the blogosphere was filled with tales last year about how actor William Shatner had become a billionaire, thanks to some well-timed purchases of Priceline (PCLN) stock after a gossip item appeared in a Canadian newspaper. The speculation got so heated that Capt. Kirk, who has been Priceline's pitchman for years, was forced to issue a denial a few days later. Musician Avril Lavigne had to deny a story on Monday that she had died in a snowboarding accident, according to Gossip Cop.
"So, does this rumor sound familiar?" the website asks regarding the Lavigne claim. "It should. Much like last week's rumors about Owen Wilson dying while snowboarding, Eddie Murphy passing away, Adam Sandler having died, and the same disgusting rumor about Charlie Sheen -- this is NOT TRUE."
The Michael Vick rumor shows that Mark Twain's famous comment that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes" is even more accurate today as information zips around the world at lightning speeds. It's truly frightening how easy it is to jump to the wrong conclusions.
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