Artist turns Michael Vick trading cards into chew toys, fund-raisers

Thursday, August 23, 2007
Monte, a 6-year-old Weimaraner, chewed on a Michael Vick football card. Rochelle Steffen is selling the chewed-up cards on eBay as statement against Vick's actions. (Submitted photo)

Rochelle Steffen doesn't throw away trading cards easily -- she's in the business of collecting and selling them.

But when NFL quarterback Michael Vick is on the cards, she only values them as her dogs' chew toys and a Humane Society fund-raiser.

Steffen, an avid sports fan, read all she could about Vick's current legal troubles, including the 18-page federal indictment charging him with dogfighting. She was disgusted. She took action, letting her 6-year-old Weimaraner Monte and her Great Dane puppy Roxie chew up her collection of 22 Vick cards.

Now Steffen -- a local artist and college student -- is selling those cards on an eBay auction. The winning bid money, she said, will go to a Humane Society of the bidder's choice. If the bidder has no preference, the money will go to the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri. Steffen said she'll provide the bidder with proof of the donation.

"I picked out every card I had of his and I just handed them to my two dogs," Steffen said. "The puppy chewed a couple, but my 6-year-old male, literally every one I handed him he methodically chewed up. And he's not a chewer.

Rochelle Steffen is auctioning chewed-up Michael Vick trading cards on eBay. (Submitted photo)

"It was like he knew whose cards they were."

Steffen posted the auction last Thursday. At first she said there were few hits, but on Wednesday the page views and bidding increased sharply, possibly because Sports Illustrated posted information on the auction on the "Extra Mustard" section of its Web site.

As of 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, the high bid was $176.11, with the auction set to continue until Sunday.

"You can sell anything on eBay, so I thought I'm going to put these up and see what goes on," Steffen said.

The auction is both an artistic statement about Vick's actions and a way to raise money for a good cause, Steffen said.

"Once the story came out and I read the 18-page indictment, I would have destroyed the cards anyway," she said. Letting her dogs do the destruction was more appropriate than doing it herself, she said.

Steffen said she paid eBay $27 to start the auction and will have to pay a cut of the final bid. But she doesn't mind the money she'll be out -- Steffen has donated her art to Humane Society auctions before.

Local Humane Society president David Roth said Steffen's eBay sale and the statement it makes is an example of free enterprise. And the organization will be happy to accept any money as long as no criminal activity is involved.

"It doesn't sound to me like she's committing a crime," he said.

For Steffen, giving the money away is a way to bring some good out of the situation.

"You think of these superstars that have such power: He's paid such a ridiculous amount of money, he's so famous, he's so wanted ...," Steffen said. "He has so much money, but just because you have it doesn't mean you're going to do good with it."

Vick decided earlier this week to plead guilty, the Associated Press reported. He is likely to be sentenced to at least a year in prison after he enters his plea next week.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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