Michael Vick has paid his debt. Let him play.


My mother-in-law is pretty far from what you’d call a sports fan.

Wonderful woman that she is, she couldn’t tell you the difference between John Elway, Dan Marino or Wayne Gretzky if you put them in a police lineup.

She doesn’t watch sports, follow sports, or care about sports; one time while on a car trip I asked her over the phone to “check the score” of some game, and it was as if I’d asked her to explain quantum physics. She was completely flummoxed.

Anyway, I relate all this because about two or three times a year, she gets really angry about something that happens in the world of sports. I feel like if she’s fired up about it, plenty of other non-sports fans are, and Monday evening she was all kinds of fired up about the Michael Vick reinstatement to the NFL.

Before I go into why I think Roger Goodell did the right thing by conditionally allowing the felonious Vick back into the league in October, pending certain conditions, I want to stipulate the following, before I get tons of angry comments (actually, I’d be happy for ANY comments at this point, but that’s another story).

Michael Vick has been a disgusting excuse for a human being. His pathetic abuse of defenseless dogs, his blatant lying to everyone about his involvement, and the frightening and methodical way he ran a dogfighting ring puts him just below bat excrement on my list of favorite things.

He deserved to be punished severely, and he was. He absolutely, positively should live in shame for a long time in the public eye for what he did.

But I’m having a hard time agreeing with people, like my mother-in-law, who think he should never be allowed to play pro football again. They argue his deeds were so heinous that he should never be allowed the right to resume his profession.

I don’t get that. Let’s think about what has happened to Vick in the last two years: He lost his NFL career and his major contract with the Atlanta Falcons, costing himself more than a hundred million dollars.  He lost all of his endorsers. He was convicted of a felony. He spent nearly two years in prison, and for the rest of his life he will have to live with the memory of what he did (and, I’m sure, he’ll have to live with the animal-loving masses who no doubt will stalk him wherever he ends up.)

Now that he has paid his debt, is he not entitled to go back to work? If he was a banker or a lawyer or a gravedigger, would he not be allowed to try to pick up the pieces of his life and resume his career?

This is America, where getting a second chance is practically written into the Constitution. Was Vick’s crime more disgusting than most? Sure. Is it worse than athletes who beat their wives or get charged with DUI manslaughter like Donte Stallworth and Leonard Little, NFL players who aren’t suffering 1/10th the penalty that Vick has gotten?

One other thing that people who are railing against the NFL seem to be forgetting is that no team has to sign him. There are no guns to anyone’ s head.

It would take a coach and general manager who are awfully secure in their jobs, and in their team’s popularity with its fan base, to risk the backlash of a Vick signing. I fully expect huge PETA and/or ASPCA protests at any NFL stadium Vick would play in this year, or any year. Who could gamble on him? I’d say New England, because Bill Belichick is pretty bulletproof up there, or maybe Pittsburgh, coming off a Super Bowl win. And then there’s the Detroit Lions, who are so pathetic that perhaps their fans wouldn’t care about Vick’s transgressions if he helped them win.

Look, I think Vick should absolutely be scrutinized and banned permanently from the NFL if he even does anything remotely outside of the law.

But how long do we as a society need to punish a person? I’m not saying forgive Michael Vick, because he doesn’t deserve that yet.

But by allowing him to attempt to pick up  the pieces of his shattered life, the NFL is simply giving Michael Vick a second chance.

A chance that all of us in this country deserve.


8 responses to “Michael Vick has paid his debt. Let him play.

  1. Why the attack on Guano? Bat excrement is a necessary and helpful material that is used for fertilizer and gunpowder

  2. Mike Lew, I agree completely with you!
    I liked your comparison to Stallworth and Little. And, my guess is when you wrote this, Favre hadn’t yet retired (again!). I think Vick would be a nice fit with the Vikings.

  3. it’s a business decision at this point. He doesn’t need to be suspended; he’s been punished. If I were an owner, I don’t think I’d be in any rush to commit resources to a guy with this kind of history, habits and friends. Not this year. Maybe next. These kinds of guys don’t tend to pan out. Of course, he’d be boo’ed everywhere he played, but that would change if he kept his nose clean. No good team will take him now, for sure.

  4. Amy Carpenter

    Hmmm…interesting. I agree that he probably ought to be given the chance to resume is career, though not all careers would allow for this opportunity. Had Mr. Vick been a teacher, for example (and let’s assume that we’re all better off without him in the education field), I suspect that he would not be given an opportunity to head right back to work.

  5. This is Roger Goodell’s world. Maybe if Vick wouldn’t have lied straight to his face he would’ve been allowed right back into the league. Maybe not. He doesn’t NEED Michael Vick. He sold plenty of tickets, plenty of jerseys, plenty of merchandise without Michael Vick the last two years. Michael Vick should be thrilled he’s even got a chance to come back at all — think of the headaches his return to the league are causing Goodell. I also saw someone else mention something about Stallworth. That’s a totally different thing — the legal system worked its course and he’s not in jail for years. Should be, but he’s not. And he’s also still suspended indefinitely, if I’m not mistaken. He could be out the entire season or beyond.
    As for living with the memory of what he did, I don’t think 2 years in prison suddenly makes him feel guilty or bad about that. I really don’t. Maybe he feels bad about losing hundreds of millions of dollars, but deep down I don’t think he cares what he did.
    Oh, and the Raiders will get him.

  6. Go Jets,
    I hear your point about Goodell not needing Vick, but I don’t think that means Goodell shouldn’t give him another chance. The NFL has been WAY too lenient with the Leonard LIttle and Stallworth cases, as well as with Chris Henry and Tank Johnson. For Stallworth to only get eight games, which he got, is terrible.

    As for Vick, maybe you’re right, maybe he doesn’t feel true remorse. I don’t think any of us can know what’s in another person’s heart. But I think he deserves a chance to show people he’s changed.

    And you’re right, Vick to the Raiders sounds like a match made in heaven or hell. I know PETA has a ton of members in California!

  7. Vick deserves another chance to work in the NFL. I he truly is remorseful, he will find a way to use is platform to speak out against cruelty to animals in order to atone for what he did.

    The Stallworth case is a completely different animal (pun intended)…people need to stop comparing the two.

    As for the punishments Goodell hands out? I think the NFLPA needs to force Goodell in the next CBA to develop a written system for doling out suspensions and such (similar to the substance abuse policy), so Goodell doesn’t have carte blanche to see punish as he sees fit.

  8. Matt (little guy)

    Hi Mike! Boy the pen really is mightier than the sword!!

    Now that Mom has put in her two-cents’ worth,
    you’ve put some funny stuff on here…. watch out for those hecklers… they might eat you alive… no one wants that….

    very nice.. keep it up!

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