Pulverized dog corpses strewn about in puddles of congealed blood.
Understandably, that is the visual that comes to mind whenever someone mentions the name Michael Vick. Dog owners worldwide have condemned him. Comedians have used him as a punchline. To the average non-football-fan on the street, “dead dogs” is about all that they know about the man.
So when the Steelers signed Michael Vick yesterday, the immediate reaction for many Steelers fans was ire: “I will never root for that dog murderer!!!” Likewise, the Internet was rife with a trove of clever memes. And, once again, to the average non-football-fan on the street, “dead dogs” is about all that they know about Michael Vick.
Now that all of the initial, reactionary responses are out of the way, let me try to convince you to give Michael Vick a second chance. Please note that I am not going to discuss his play on the field, because honestly, that seems to be the least of anybody’s concerns about this signing.
Vick paid his penance. Period. I am not talking about a white-collar slap on the wrist; Vick received a life-altering punishment. In addition to serving jail time, Vick had to immediately give back a $20 million signing bonus to the Falcons, and since he was eventually cut from the team, he essentially missed out on almost all of his contract money (money that he will never make up). Additionally, due to fines and such, Vick lost whatever nest egg he had established in his first few years in the league. In short, Vick went from having roughly $100 million dollars, to having almost none of it… plus, he spent almost two years in jail.
Those punishments alone should be enough to convince you to give the man a second chance, because we live in a country where it is socially agreed upon that once a person serves his time, that person should be able to re-enter society without repercussions. Simply, we forgive, although we do not necessarily forget. Then again, the “forget” portion can make it difficult for people to “forgive”, especially when the crime produces such a visceral response. In other words, not every crime is created equal, and simply, some crimes are indeed unforgivable.
That said, let me interject the following. More important than serving a penance, Michael Vick did something that is rarely seen in today’s “me first/selfie” world: Vick took full responsibility for what he did. He did not blame anyone else, he did not try to spin what he did, and he did not make excuses. For several years, on radio and television, I have heard Vick talk about what he has done, and never once has he run from it. Michael Vick has repeatedly looked at America and stated: “I did something bad, and I will never do it again. Will you please forgive me?”
In a world where Kenneth Lay has never apologized for his crimes, where Ray Lewis is seen as a hero, and where OJ Simpson is still looking for the “real” killers, it is refreshing to hear someone take ownership of what they have done. For that reason alone, I will give Michael Vick a second chance.
Welcome to the Steelers, Michael.