It’s always dangerous to look into another man’s heart. (I’ve also learned it’s dangerous to tell a woman she has too many pairs of shoes, to ask a rampaging bull to kindly slow down, and to cut a dinner roll with a huge, sharp knife. But I digress).
We don’t ever really know what’s going on in somebody’s head, what their motives are, and if someone who has committed some truly awful crimes is really repentant.
As a fairly cynical sportswriter, I feel like I have a pretty good “phony” radar for athletes. It goes off every time Terrell Owens or Kobe Bryant speaks, for example.
But watching Michael Vick on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, I’ve gotta say that I was truly impressed. I thought Vick came across as sincere, humble, and pretty broken up about what he had done.
Now, I’m sure he was coached by his p.r. people. But I think there was too much real emotion on display for it to be all fake. I liked when James Brown (who did a surprisingly good job as the interviewer; boy would I have liked to see Mike Wallace grill Vick) asked the disgraced dog-fighting kingpin whose fault all his problems were.
“I blame me,”Vick said … ”I deserved to lose the $130 million (NFL contract).”
“Yeah, I deserve to lose it,” Vick continued. I deserve to lose the $130 million. Why would a guy who was making a $130 million and, you know, on the flip side, you know, killing dogs or doing the wrong things, why would– you know, he don’t — he don’t deserve it.”
I also was watching Vick’s face closely while Brown read off some of the horrendous details of what Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels did to the poor animals. Vick seemed to be visibly wincing. I got the feeling that every time he relives what he did to the dogs, he feels pain. Which is very good, because he should feel pain.
Vick talked a lot about the “disgust” he felt about himself, and for the entire interview he seemed like a guy who knew just how royally he screwed up his life.
I understand that there are a lot of people who don’t think the ex-Falcons quarterback should’ve gotten a chance to play in the NFL again. But this America, and we give people second chances.
I have no idea if Michael Vick will really do everything he can to educate black and rural kids that dogfighting is wrong, and they should steer clear of it. But he deserves the opportunity to prove that prison changed him, and so far, he seems like a different man.
Good for him if he really has changed. He can do so much more good after falling from grace than he ever could’ve done when he was on top of the mountain.
Couple other thoughts on the “60 Minutes,” piece, whose transcript is here.
**I thought James Brown did an outstanding job, journalistically; much better than I was expecting.
** The most revealing part of the piece for me was when Vick talked about how, as a little kid, he saw dogfighting and thought it was OK. And that opinion was reinforced when, he recalled, some local policemen in Virginia pulled up to a dogfight one night, got out of their cars, then drove away.
In no way shape or form is it an excuse, but kids learn what they see at that age.
P.S. Hell of a day in sports Sunday, on the whole. Usain Bolt, who is so fast he makes lightning look slow, set a new world record by running a 9.58 in the 100 meter dash in Berlin. That’s .009 seconds faster than Bolt’s old world record, which is a huge gap in a small race like this. (By the way, is there a more perfect name for a sprinter than “Bolt?”). This kid from Jamaica is making a mockery of all past sprinters; he’s just on a whole different playing field than anyone, ever, in his event.
Check out the incredible Bolt race here:
Tiger Woods getting caught from behind in the last round of a major? Never happened before, and may never happen again.
One more reason sports is the greatest reality television of all time.