Michael Vick took the field yesterday for the first time in two years. I applauded.
Let me go ahead and say I know what Michael Vick did — dog fighting, killing underperforming dogs, gambling, etc. — was not only illegal, but also horrific.
That was two and a half years ago.
Since then, Vick has spent 18 months in prison and two more in home confinement. He has lost every endorsement deal he had, including those with Nike, Reebok and UpperDeck. The Atlanta Falcons and the NFL disowned him and took away his $130 million contract. He has endured countless jeers and curses from PETA members and dog lovers across the country. Vick was even forced to file for bankruptcy.
It’s time to leave him alone. Vick has done anything and everything to get back in the good graces of PETA, the NFL and football fans. He is employed by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula. One of his personal goals after coming out of prison was to maintain a community service record.
In a 60 Minutes interview that aired two weeks ago, Vick said while in prison, he would cry at night because he had let his family and friends down, and he had no one to blame but himself. He claims the only way he was able to make it through his time behind bars was his newfound belief in God. Vick even garnered the support of Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States after speaking out against dog fighting.
Despite all this, the country refuses to give Vick a second chance. In a poll conducted by The Morning Call, 71.8 percent of readers disagreed with the decision to reinstate Vick to the NFL.
Vick has been made a case of and punished to the fullest extent of the law. I believe that jail time wasn’t necessary for such a crime; community service would have been acceptable. The crimes that Vick committed do not compare to those other high-profile athletes have committed in the past, but his punishment was far more severe.
This year, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Dante Stallworth hit and killed a pedestrian while drunk driving. His blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit in Florida; yet, he only spent 24 days in jail and was suspended from football for a year. 24 days for killing a man versus 18 months for dog fighting? Something doesn’t add up.
No one can argue Vick was the most electrifying player in the league during his time with the Atlanta Falcons. He is the fastest quarterback ever to play the game, and remains the only quarterback in NFL history to rush more than 1,000 yards in a single season.
The Philadelphia Eagles took a chance signing Vick to a two-year contract under which he can earn up to $6.6 million. The move will pay off in the long run for the Eagles, because Vick will become a playmaker once again.
Vick deserves a second chance. He is human and made mistakes, for which he has more than paid his due. It is time to recognize his success story and cheer him on throughout the upcoming season.
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