Friday, May 22, 2009

Does Michael Vick Deserve a Second Chance?

When Michael Vick was first convicted of bankrolling a dog-fighting business, I was working at an animal control center. Obviously, all of my coworkers were outraged by the acts committed by Vick and his cronies. I feel pretty secure in saying all rational (and some semi-rational) people would consider Vick's conduct to be disgusting. There is no argument here.

To me, the argument in respect to Vick lies within his removal from prison, which has fueled a lot of talk about his possible return to the NFL. One of my former coworkers had said (upon his conviction) his "career was over." No way would any team sign him after this. This is the point where emotions cloud thinking and rational (and some semi-rational) become irrational.

The problem, as I see it, is that crimes against animals are groundlessly viewed as worse than crimes against people - especially by fanatical animal lovers. A relative of mine, who worked in a newsroom, told me of the different reactions of reporters assigned stories that involved animal abuse and stories involving people abuse. When it's people, "Same ol', same ol'. Another day, another dollar." When it's animals, they have to muster up the strength to keep living in a world in which that could happen. They're about as sad as Milwaukee butchers after hearing Prince Fielder went vegan.

How many plumbers, roofers, accountants or journalists, having served time for something like domestic abuse (a crime I would consider to be much worse), would not be allowed to work in their trained vocational upon being released from prison? Sure, they might not be allowed to return to the position they once held (and I don't think there is a team willing to sign Vick to another $130 million contract anytime soon), but they would be able to work in their field again. Why shouldn't Vick be able to do the same?

But all of this talk avoids the biggest reason you will see Vick in an NFL uniform in the fall of 2009: If a player can play, an owner can pay.

Ray Lewis was given a one-year probation sentence for obstruction of justice in the stabbing deaths of two men after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta. Question: If he was innocent, what justice did he feel the need to obstruct?

Adam "Pacman" Jones has been arrested around 10 times since he was drafted in 2005.

Jamal Lewis tried to set up a drug deal in 2004 and spent four months in prison for it.

Michael Irvin was arrested for cocaine possession and assault.

Chris Henry, Lawrence Phillips, Leonard Little, etc. The list goes on. All of these guys had complete laspses in moral (and legal) judgment, but they deserved and were given a second chance.

Some people don't learn from their mistakes (Pacman). Others go on to be model citizens (Lewis).

Doesn't Michael Vick deserve the opportunity to show us which one he'll be?



  1. Another point: as long as owners like Al Davis and Jerry Jones, and walking police blotters masquerading as teams like the Cincinnati Bengals are still around, there will always be a spot for a guy like Vick. Marvin Lewis should be forced to be a licensed parole officer -- it would save everyone time and money.

    I think Vick deserves a second chance. The reason some people don't think he'll get one is because of this principle right here: Journalists, plumbers and bankers don't make millions of dollars and have the kind of public image the NFL does. If I beat my wife (I don't -- promise), go to jail for a while, then take a job editing feature stories at the local paper in a new town, no one knows or cares. Vick will create a PR nightmare that a lot of teams do not want to deal with. Driving to work while PETA pelts your Porsche with Milkbones is not most people's idea of a good time.

    But, as I said. Owners like Davis, Jones and Daniel Snyder are ok with that PR nightmare if they think it will make their teams better. And Vick very well could.

  2. Mitch, lots of bankers make millions of dollars! ... whether from working or from the government, which is the style nowadays.

    Anyway, all good points, SG. And even though I'm not a big sports fan, I think we can all appreciate a good Prince Fielder joke.

  3. "... AND have the kind of public image the NFL does." The only bankers that have that kind of public image are disgraced bankers, e.g. Bernie Madoff.

  4. Yeah, and I keep hearing about the 49ers being a possibility for Vick. My opinion? No bloody way. There is not another city with a greater percentage of animal-loving freaks, and I don't mean it's wrong to love animals - to a certain point. That would be a nightmare for the entire organization, so keep dreaming, Mike Singletary.