Today I was supposed to scan and upload a fictional football story I wrote while attending Harrowgate Elementary School in Chester, VA when I was about eight years old or so. I am particularly proud of it but unfortunately, that will have to wait since my keepsake boxes are devoid of said content. Perhaps Mom or Dad will come through in the clutch again.
Instead, I was moved to comment earlier today on a facebook thread a good friend of mine had started. He is a great human being, an animal lover, and the thought of Michael Vick being reinstated to the NFL has him literally sick to his stomach and now boycotting the NFL for life. Fair enough, I thought. You have your opinions, I have mine.
Okay, I am late to this conversation, the Vick dog fighting ring story, full of atrocities and deceit, that was hashed over tenfold two years ago. Now that he has been conditionally reinstated to play in the NFL once more, the PR circus is only beginning.
I didn't write anything about it then and I didn't intend to this time around either. It is extremely controversial, and there are already way too many people weighing in as it is. Me being me though, I just couldn't keep my mouth shut this time.
Let me just say, Vick was used by the NFL as an example. They were nipping this thing in the bud. Their message to kids that look up to him is simple: You can't do these nasty things and expect to become a part of the NFL.
Also, the NFL powers that be know that dog fighting is a big underground entertainment past time within the NFL and NBA. Take it one step further and google the history of dog fighting and see that it has a rich worldwide history spanning many centuries, and is today widely practiced both legally and illegally.
I am also an animal lover, and do not advocate cruelty to animals, yet dog fighting is big all across America and my neighborhood is no exception. A few years ago, my wife and I smelled something horrific that turned out to be a dog fighting casualty in the lot right next to our house, tossed there casually to rot, after a fight in the middle of the night.
Vick was excessively cruel to animals, engaged in criminal behavior, and generally made poor choices, which everyone can agree on. Starting your own kennels? How dumb can you be Mike?
Well, it is not the first time a celebrity thought they were above the law and wouldn't get caught. In my opinion he did it to one up the other “enthusiasts”, which undoubtedly included famous unnamed NFL and NBA athletes.
He lied to the commissioner because he was caught red handed, and he was protecting his bank account and pride, plain and simple. All humans on the planet that get caught red handed have at one time or another denied it at first. I am not saying this is okay, I am saying this is human.
Is he more of a monster than the people who run factory dairy farms? Cows there are obviously maltreated, unhappy and unhealthy and have atrophied muscles because these poor creatures are not allowed to roam, therefore do not get any exercise at all. This is the G-rated version of the story.
If you want to know more about the legal abuse of animals in our culture, start by reading about the one our homeschool co-op visited, and then google “downed cow”.
This may seem like a far fetched argument, but to me it is not. The difference to me is that in the Vick case we are talking about a dog, 'Man's Best Friend'.
To me, animal cruelty is animal cruelty. Would you object to a football player that grew up working on a factory dairy farm, helping abuse cows all his life, being a part of the NFL? Where do you draw the line?
In my opinion if Vick is a monster, then cow factories that participate in abusive treatment are certainly monsters too.
Or how about a case like Leonard Little's? A Pro Bowl player, he is also known for killing a human in 1998 while drunk driving. He received 90 days in jail, as opposed to Vick's 2 years in jail. To make matters worse, Little was AGAIN caught for driving drunk and speeding six years later. He still plays for the Rams, and what I want to know is, where are all the people that are sick to their stomach and boycotting the league over THAT?
Concerning Vick, my wife says, “He's a ROLE model. Now kids can be like, I can be a gangster and STILL play ball....dog fighting is gangster stuff....of course, other players have had DUI's but this is on going crime ring stuff...different in my book and not even to get into the cruelty, and gambling.”
My response to that was, exactly, he IS a role model. I believe in second chances, and what the NFL did by punishing Vick harshly was to advertise to the entire world including all the kids that look up to him that you can't play NFL ball and behave like that.
It was a firm stand. Now, when he comes back he has a chance to reverse that but this time have a tremendous positive impact on young people by showing that it is never too late to mature and change as a man. I am not saying he definitely will, I am saying he deserves that chance.
Finally, what about compassion? I believe in compassion and empathy, and there is no benefit in my mind in denying compassion to Vick or anyone else that has committed a horrible act. One horrible act by a person does not mean the rest of him is bad. I believe that was only one side of Mike Vick.
By giving compassion to someone who really needs it most, can do so much more good going forward than denying him that. He has done his time and now he has one of the game's most respected mentors by his side.
If Tony Dungy can't help him, no one can. Michael Vick is a human being that made some mistakes. But he is not a monster.