Michael Vick is out of jail and back in the NFL…maybe.
For those hardcore Vick haters he will never be sorry enough or punished harshly enough to their liking. Killing pit bulls is a heinous act of cruelty, but it doesn’t rise to the level of murdering a human being, no matter what the ASPCA or PETA says.
In this country once you’ve served the time for your crime you’re allowed to come back out and pursue a livlihood. Yes, even those who have killed humans. Defensive end Leonard Little got drunk, took the life of a woman in an automobile accident and he’s currently drawing a paycheck from the St. Louis Rams. There are gang-bangers, drug users and abusers, alcoholics, wife-beaters and all other kinds of riff-raff playing in stadiums across the NFL any given Sunday of the season. Where are the protests against them? Why isn’t anybody upset about those guys?
Since Commissioner Goodell reinstated Vick, general managers around the league are tripping over their feet to rush to the microphone and declare they have “no interest” in signing the quarterback. But saying “no interest” isn’t saying you never will have any interest. Football has a way of chewing up its own and sooner, not later, a team will see a starting QB or his backup go down to a season-ending injury. That’s when “no interest” can turn into “Get me Michael Vick, quick!”
The NFL is a conservative institution and right now you can see teams testing the waters. Before they go out and sign Vick they want to get a sense of how the public is responding to Vick be allowed to play again. If there’s a furious backlash to a QB starved franchise like my San Francisco 49ers signing Vick team officials will (excuse the expression) run like scalded dogs from the mere suggestion.
If Vick is truly repentant for his crimes and he has learned from everything he lost, then like anybody else who pays their debt to society he should be allowed to resume his career (if he can).
There have been plenty of sportswriters smashing their computer keyboards in fist-pounding indignation that a dog killer like Vick should ever be allowed to sully a NFL locker room again. A lot of them are the same guys who though Vick was a punk before all the trouble started and couldn’t have been happier when his life turned into crap.
A better judge of Vick’s character is a man such as the recently retired head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy. Dungy met with Vick while he was in prison and wrote on his blog this week:
“I think Michael deserves the chance to show people he has changed and learned from past mistakes, but my true hope is that he will make sound decisions about his future and, at the same time, let people know more about the person that I’ve come to know recently. I know the public will be skeptical, but I think, over time, people will find there’s a different side to him than what they’ve seen so far.”
Vick, like too many other young Black men had to go to jail before his reckless and foolish ways came to a sudden stop. As he returns to the normal world outside prison, Vick is going to find it hard enough to pick up the pieces of what could have been a brilliant career in pro football.
Without being in an environment with structure, rules and discipline, Vick is at risk to backslide into bad habits and bad company. A strong-willed coach such as Mike Singletary of the 49ers, who demands respect and professionalism from his players would be perfect for Vick.
Vick may not be among the Top 10 or Top 20 quarterbacks in the league. But there are 32 statrting quarterbacks and another 32 guys warming the bench behind them. It’s a no-brainer that he’s still among the best 64 guys at his position.
He has enough obstacles to clear that he put in his own way. He doesn’t need people whom are unwilling to forgive his past blocking him from pursing his future.