After an amazing season with the Philadelphia Eagles, embattled quarterback Michael Vick started in his fourth ProBowl this past weekend. However, there are still many Americans who don’t like Michael Vick and don’t want him to continue playing in the NFL.
In April 2007, Vick was the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and one of the best-paid players in the NFL when details began to emerge about his role in the running and funding of an illegal dog-fighting operation called “Bad Newz Kennels” near his home in Virginia.
He was sentenced to 23 months in Leavenworth Prison and is on probation until November 2012
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, nearly 40 percent of people polled don’t think he should be allowed to play in the NFL. For the second year in a row, Vick topped “Forbes Magazine’s” list of the most disliked sports figures, with 69 percent of people polled stating that they disliked him.
His Twitter account was frozen after being harassed and insulted, and the blogosphere consistently lambastes and denigrates him. One blogger, named Sumo Pop, recently compared Vick to Donte Stallworth, a football player who drunkenly ran down a man with his car, killing him. Pop wrote, “I can give Stallworth a break more easily than I can Vick.”
The courts gave Stallworth community service, house arrest, probation and a 30-day sentence, of which he served 24.
It is depressing to think that we have come to a point where we consider the lives of animals to be more precious and important than those of humans. It is even more depressing to think that we have grown so cynical that we refuse to accept a man who has genuinely repented for his crimes.
Together with the Humane Society of the United States, Vick travels twice a month to talk to children about the horrible things he’s done. Since his release from prison, he has never once tried to diminish the extent of his horrible crimes.
According to the HSUS website, as a result of the work he has done for the organization, 30 laws have been created or updated to ensure that dog fighting is quelled wherever it happens.
States have created special units to combat dog fighting, putting over 1,000 more police officers on the streets.
For his part, Vick has continued to attend speaking engagements on behalf of the HSUS to denounce his past and any dog fighting activity that still exists.
However, despite his efforts, there are those who still insist on banning him from the NFL, demanding that he continue to be punished for his crimes.
It would appear that nothing less than the total destruction of his life will satiate the extreme demands of people who will never recognize Vick’s humanity, and cannot accept that Vick, and the rest of America, would like to move on and continue to make progress toward ending animal cruelty.
Even our president has come out in support of Vick. Jeff Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, recalled a conversation for Sports Illustrated that he had with Obama over the phone.
When discussing what Obama said, he states, “‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance. He was … passionate about it. He said it’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”
It seems that we need to reconcile the fact that Michael Vick is trying his best to be a changed man. He accepts responsibility for what he did and has paid a heavy price–about $100 million and 3 years of his life.
He has done an admirable job trying to reform who he is and trying to rectify a horrible situation.
This does not mean that we should forget what happened, but we do need to move forward and accept Michael Vick for who he was, who he is now, and for who he is trying to be. Forgiving his past sins and believing that his attempting a sincere redemption is the only way we can move on.