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Saturday, August 15, 2009

In Support of the Michael Vick Signing

Michael Vick did some bad things. Very bad. The quarterback who was fearless in taking on his opponents was meek with his friends and, yes, helped enable them (and himself) for a while to get away with murder. There's no excuse for that.

But Vick was held accountable. He served almost two years in jail (according to legal expert and TV pundit Jack Ford, Vick probably served more time than others charged with the same crime). He lost everything -- possessions, money, career. And, he's contrite. So much so that he has legendary coach Tony Dungy in his corner supporting his attempts at a comeback and redemption. There will be an interview aired on "60 Minutes" tomorrow night where Vick will once again discuss his remorse, and he also did so at his press conference in Philadelphia. He now is entitled to try to regain his life -- even in the National Football League.

What more can a society ask?

Yes, some will say that while he's entitled to move on, he shouldn't be able to do so in such a public forum as the NFL, that the right to play in the NFL also is a privilege. They'll argue that the crime was too heinous to give him a second chance, and that because kids look up to football players as role models what type of the message is the league sending? My answer is that we are a government of laws, not of men, and if he's served his time, he's eligible to come back the same way convicted doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, bricklayers and electricians are entitled to return to ply their trades after serving their time. Just because his craft happens to be as an elite football player shouldn't single him out. Yes, doctors and lawyers can be required to show other measures of good conduct before getting reinstated to their profession, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has set some standards for Michael Vick in that regard -- standards that Vick apparently has met or is in the process of meeting.

In contrast, I'm involved in an extracurricular activity where one of the leaders has transgressed. Not at a criminal level, but at a contractual level, at an ethical level and even at the level of how he's treated others. His transgressions have blown what at one time was a cohesive organization apart. Yet, instead of taking responsibility for his role in a (sometimes un-) civil war at this institution, he refuses to do so. He simply wants to move on as if nothing happened and as if he's entitled to do so, and he and his enablers haven't expressed remorse for their role (it was over him, and they "won" in that he is remaining on the job), apologized or admitted that they did something wrong in, among other things, rallying -- sometimes viciously -- to save him at almost any cost. And, yet, those same people are incredulous that the remaining members of the organization are still upset, refuse to move on and might quit (thereby putting the long-term finances of the institution in serious jeopardy). They don't get that to move on, you need sincere admissions, contrition and apologies - none of which are forthcoming. If anything, this guy and his supporters are painting this guy almost as a victim. The only victims here are the truth, community, dignity, decency and the Golden Rule. Go figure. No one has exhibited any physical brutality to dogs (or people), but no one has admitted wrongdoing, expressed any remorse or contrition. And the institution -- if you can call it that -- is staggering as a result.

So, in certain ways, while Michael Vick erred much more greatly, he's the better man than the guy I'm talking about for coming forward, accepting his penalty, expressing remorse, seeking out advisors who will be tough but fair with him, and moving on.

I give the Philadelphia Eagles credit for taking a smart stand here. Michael Vick is one heckuva football player -- at least the guy I saw play several years ago. And, as the trend in the NFL continues to having more and more multi-faceted players play the skill positions on offense -- the Antawn Randle-Els of the world in order to make teams harder to defend -- the more players like Michael Vick will be in demand and will excel. It was a good football decision, and it's a good decision from the standpoint of giving someone who was very troubled another chance.

Please rest assured that I don't condone what Michael Vick did. But I do think that he deserves a second chance because of the way he's been conducting himself since his release from prison.

As for the organization that right now I'm holding onto by a thread, well, Darwin believed that the fittest survived. And show me an organization with an unrepentant wrongdoer at or near its helm, and I'll show you one that might be on its last legs -- whether it knows it or not.

The Eagles? They'll be fine.


Anonymous Philadelphia Eagles Picks said...

I think it is a good signing. Vick deserved a second chance. He seemed sincere on 60 minutes, and remorseful.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous CBell said...

OK. If he had been a teacher at your kids' school, would you feel the same way? What if he had been one of their coaches? Would his sincere expressions of remorse lead you to forgive his torturing and killing of dogs - and would you want him to return to teaching or coaching your children?

10:34 PM  

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