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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time to Forgive Michael Vick?

The most talked abut and controversial sports story surrounds the signing of Michael Vick by the Philadelphia Eagles. Before I weigh in, I should disclose a few things. First, Vick was a favorite of mine in fantasy football. That's because his out of this world talent made him the perfect, potentially, fantasy football player. There was nothing more exciting in fantasy football than watching Michael Vick when he was on your team. Also, I am not especially an animal lover. I don't have any pets and I never have had any pets. (as I say, I have enough trouble taking care of myself)

There's no excusing what Vick did and no words can describe the brutality of his acts. I don't know if Michael Vick is sorry about what he did or going through the motions in order to get back on the field. He's paid his debt to society but that doesn't mean he deserves to play football, let alone in the NFL. Playing in the NFL, as the cliche goes, is a privilege not a right. There is no reason that anyone should ever embrace or forgive him. If a sports fan treats him as a villain for the rest of his life, that is a position I can understand. His acts of brutality were not merely criminal but sociopathic. I don't know that he resolved whatever pathology caused him to engage in dog fighting.

That said, I am willing to forgive him and have no problem with him joining the NFL with the Eagles. On one level, my reason is frivilous. Vick is such a unique athlete that I want to see what his potential can finally amount to. His skills and talent come along once in a lifetime and it doesn't seem right that they won't have a chance to blossom to see how he can change and affect the game. His combination of speed and arm strength has never been seen and he has the ability to change the game. If he doesn't come back, the game can never know what is possible of the position of quarterback.

Beyond that, I have a more human reason. While his crimes are brutal and unspeakable, there is no way for him to go back and change them. Ruining the rest of his life doesn't change what he did. Maybe, on some level, he deserves to live the rest of his life in infamy working at the local grocery store barely struggling to get by. How does that help anyone? It won't change what he did.

Vick's life is ruined in a way that no one can imagine. He must constantly walk around in shame. There must be a self loathing that he is expected to have. Anything less and everyone assumes that he isn't remorseful. So, do we want, as a society, to have him ruin the rest of his life, or do we want, as a society, to give him a chance to redeem himself?

I know that he treated life with a lot less regard than I am giving to his, but I'd like to believe that his time in prison has shown him the evil of what he did. I'd like to believe that when he says he'll be part of the solution he means it. Maybe, for what he did, he doesn't deserve redemption, but I, for one, would rather that the next chapter in Michael Vick's life ends in redemption not in misery. Some people can't forgive Vick. The brutality of his actions are simply too much. (I hope those same folks don't forgive Ray Lewis and Donte Stallwoth either, who's acts were even worse) I am not one of those folks. As a football fan, I forgive Michael Vick and hope the rest of his life and career leads to redemption.


Jim said...

Vick did what he did and paid the price. The NFL is a private enterprise. If the Eagles want to hire him that is their decision. If their fans don't like it, they won't go to the games.
(That won't happen.)

Anonymous said...

Chris Rock said on the Dan Patrick Show last week "playing in the NFL is a privilege...if you suck at football."

Basically, its time people realized that the NFL needs Vick almost as much as Vick (or should I say, Vick's creditors) needs the NFL. While Vick has no pocket presence and questionable accuracy, he's still better than Shaun Hill, Sage Rosenfels, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Kerry Collins, and David Girrard.

I think its also time people realized that they hate PETA more than they hate Michael Vick.

Furthermore, I have a feeling we're all going to be talking about Rick Pitino more than Mike Vick very soon.