Its been about five years since Michael Vick left prison following his 19-month sentence for his role in an illegal dog fighting ring. During that time, the troubled quarterback was reinstated into the NFL, signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles and made great strides in repairing his image.
Still, now that Vick has signed with the New York Jets, people continue to bring up his past. The most recent example was a petition that called for Vick to be banned from SUNY Cortland, where the Jets train in the preseason.
The petition, which pits the Cortland community against Vick, is close to the 5,000 signatures needed for consideration. Part of the petition reads:
I love SUNY Cortland, and cannot abide welcoming this sociopath onto our campus with open arms. We need to stand by what is right as a university by barring him from the grounds. I don't want him anywhere near my beloved college or community. We MUST send the message that we won't be party to the torture of animals by conveniently forgetting what he has done. If we welcome Vick onto our campus, we are complicit in his crimes.
Now, this column is not support for Vick's actions or the mistakes he made. The crimes he committed to those animals were terrible and atrocious. That is a given. With that said, Vick has served his time and paid his debt to society. He has been back in the NFL for some time, but because he is now in New York, his misdeeds are again under scrutiny.
The recent news revival surrounding Vick's past can be attributed to nothing other than the tendency of the New York media and fans to blow things out of proportion and create a story out of nothing.
Everyone knows what Vick has done. It has been well documented. Over the past few years attention turned away from Vick's past, focusing on his resurgence and struggles on the field with the Eagles. Yet, as soon as he became a member of the Jets, all the skeletons came crashing out of the closet again.
The point is, its not necessary. This man has been going about his second chance for quite some time now, and he has been doing a fine job of it. He has lobbied for the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, created a clothing line that aids the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia and has continued working with several charities from before his incarceration.
With Vick coming as far as he has, the focus now should be on what he can bring to the Jets, particularly if he is named the starter over incumbent Geno Smith.
Before injuries thrust Nick Foles in as the starter, Vick was off to a hot start in 2013 in Philly. In seven games he threw for 1215 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for another 306 yards and two trips to the end zone.
If he is named the starter, he can bring a veteran presence to this Jets offense, accompanied by a dynamic style of play that will fit perfectly in the West Coast offense of coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, a man Vick knows well from his days with the Eagles. If Vick is the backup, he can serve as a mentor to Smith as he enters his sophomore season.
If you do not want to forgive Vick, that is up to you. But at this point it is senseless for people to continue to try to disparage him. He has been back in football for a while, and that will likely only change the day he retires. So, how about we let bygones be bygones and leave Vick's past where it belongs.
In the past.
What is your take on the Michael Vick petition and his place in the NFL? Feel free to comment or follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Jets and the NFL.