I once made a mistake. I'm sure even the most vain of us can admit to that. We're human, we make mistakes, we make poor decisions. Unlike most people, my mistake(s) landed me in the county jail for six months of my life.
I don't know about your experiences, but I can't think of anything more traumatizing than having to spend even a minute of your life without the freedom to do what you want. And as much as incarceration sucks for you personally, it also kills all of your social relationships, and breaks the heart of everyone that has ever cared for you, especially family.
Now why would I write this in a football column? Because Michael Vick just got out of jail.
Unlike me, Vick spent a lot of time in a real federal prison.
See, the thing about being incarcerated is that as bad as it is, as much as it makes you want to get out and never come back, once you get out, the hard part has only just begun.
So as Vick begins to re-acclimate to society, find a job, as he starts to mend those relationships with his friends, family, and business associates (including the NFL), I think that we as fans should forgive him and give him a chance.
Yes, he did a horrible thing. He murdered innocent dogs, and I have a soft spot for dogs; they're man's best friend! But he did his time, and he's paid a huge price.
He's lost more money than most of us can ever dream of having. You think, as he's doing a $10 an hour construction job, he doesn't have to live with what he did every day? He was a national disgrace, he got caught lying in the media, his team had a horrible season the first season he was gone (you don't think his shadow had something to do with that?).
The fact is, the man has paid a great price already. If he still has some marketable NFL skills and he is judged purely on talent and not on baggage, then he should get a shot somewhere. If he comes to Baltimore, I will be the first to welcome him to the town and wish him luck. The PETA activists would have it wrong to threaten a disruption or picket where he plays. That's just a PR stunt.
I'm not being an apologist, but people make bad decisions, people get caught up in a certain culture and believe what they're doing isn't wrong. How different is it from these people that go to stocked nature reserves to kill defenseless animals, just so they can have a nice head mounted over their fireplace in Vail? Or what about Gov. Palin shooting at wolf from a helicopter? Real humane guys.
I know how hard it is to land a job with a record. I was unbelievable lucky that two amazing people decided that I could have back the job I left when I got in trouble. To this day I'd love to ask them why, because I couldn't even tell you what I would do in that situation.
I can only assume that they forgave me for what happened (and maybe I'm ok at what I do).
So forgive Mike Vick until he proves unworthy of it. Forgiving someone doesn't mean supporting what they did, it means understanding what they did, and trying to help them move on after their debt has been paid. Someone, somewhere, if he's still talented, will give him a second chance.
If he makes the same bad decisions, then yeah the guy is toxic. But at least give him the chance to learn from his mistakes. Isn't that the point of the justice system? Rehabilitation. Don't stack the deck against him and then when he fails say "See, he's a criminal!" Give him a chance, support him, and then if he still fails, well then he's a criminal.