Michael Vick: 21st Century Pariah

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Michael Vick: 21st Century Pariah
(Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)

Acceptance and Redemption for Grid Star Could Take Years

Michael Vick has completed serving his sentence and his debt to society.

When his epitaph is being carved, that, unfortunately for him, may go down as the easiest part of his life.

He now has to attempt to re-acclimate back into that society, which is still nowhere near ready to accept him back unconditionally.

Vick's crimes were blatant, bloody, and sensational but they were not of mass-murderer status.  They were not punishable by long prison terms. He pleaded guilty and did his time. But there are worst things than prison, sometimes.

People may forgive, but in this culture of excessive media, they are never allowed to forget.  Take Michael Jackson, for instance. A week before his death, critics slammed his comeback effort and most of society treated hm like a leper. He was sickly and in debt and nearly pushed off the grid.

When he died, he was suddenly the greatest of all time. The tides had turned because the book was now closed. The media drilled it into you, you had no choice but to submit.

In Vick's case, the media will work against him. Much like O.J. Simpson, Vick will walk the Earth with a huge cloud hovering over him. One that may erode with time, but that time frame is uncertain.

Michael Dwayne Vick will live the rest of his life unable to rid himself of the blemish, the stigma and the constant reminders of his crimes. Between the media, animal rights groups, and the corporatism of sports, Vick's chances of shedding his skin are not very promising.

Why?

It is the 21st century.  It is a time in history where everyone is given a second chance. Everyone, that is, who seeks redemption honestly.

Even though Vick has paid heavily for his crimes it still seems there is more penance due. The recent temperature that was taken in regards to his return was that of arctic levels.  Many do not believe that he is sorry for his crimes. The only thing he's sorry about is getting caught.

His annual income from football, endorsements, and other entrepreneurial ventures had crested at $25 million per year at the time of his arrest. That alone speaks volumes in terms of the price he's paid.

Most people cannot empathize with that. To them, he's a rich guy who blew it. Others will cite that he is just another sports celebrity flouting the laws and norms of society.

Others do not believe that he emerged from this a changed man. Many people and groups have stated that for someone to indulge in crimes such as dogfighting and animal cruelty there is a flaw in their character—one that cannot be changed.

Former Colts' coach Tony Dungy recently visited Vick in prison. He was convinced that Vick had changed his ways. Dungy may be the most honest man alive. He is also a very religious and forgiving man.

Society is not full of many Tony Dungys.

Even if the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, decides that Vick can return as a player, who will stick their neck out and sign him?

Any team that signs him runs the risk of having advertisers pull their accounts. In this economy, no one could afford that.  They would rather just take a pass. 

Signing Vick as a backup just brings the heat. Why would anyone run the risks for a player you will get little benefit from, anyway?

That does bode well for Vick. You can pretty much flesh out in your mind the places he would not be welcome.  The liberal bastions of America—New York and Southern California—are out; he can't return to Atlanta and Dallas is in need of every dollar they can get with the new stadium opening. 

The only places he could land up would be ones that are either absolutely clueless or desperate.  The way the NFL ebbs and flows that changes from year to year.

Michael Vick will have to wait for a chance at redemption, it appears. Like some Twilight Zone episode, he will suddenly feel his irrelevancy through the stillness of his phone.

Perhaps, by then, he'll have changed.

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