Michael Vick is now a Philadelphia Eagle. I wrote a little about Vick a while back, but his signing yesterday caused me to give his situation a little more thought, as I was having trouble sorting out my feelings.
If you have kids you can follow me on this one.
When playing board games with your kids, sometimes you land on the "lose a turn" square, which is disappointing. You're forced to sit and watch the other players zoom around the board for a whole turn (which seems like forever when you're five). But in the big scheme of the game, losing a turn isn't really that big of a deal.
Other times you roll the dice or draw a card and you have to return all the way back to the "start" square and have to begin your journey all over again. You might also lose any prizes or tokens you had collected so far in the game. You are literally back at square one and starting the whole game over. That's way worse than just landing on the "lose a turn" square.
Prison is no picnic, and I like to believe that redemption is possible. But Michael Vick signing with the Eagles for $1.6 million feels to me like his numerous crimes only landed him on the "lose a turn" square, when he should have had to return all the way to the "start" square and begin rebuilding his life from scratch.
We have seen great stories of redemption in other areas of life: The ballplayer who throws it all away with drugs or alcohol, or loses it all due to injury or poor judgment. The player who faded into obscurity but who, over time, worked and scraped his way back up through the minors and eventually made it back to the show. The businessman or politician who fell off the top of mountain and had to spend years climbing back to the top. Those are great stories of penance and forgiveness and perseverance and redemption.
I'm willing to forgive Michael Vick for is transgressions, but I'd feel a little better about the whole thing if I saw a little more time spent on the struggle for redemption before signing the fat contract and rejoining the millionaires' club. Maybe a stint in the CFL or the new UFL. Maybe a season spent coaching a local youth team while getting himself back in shape. Something other than a big pile of cash and an instant return to the spotlight of superstardom. It seems to me that redemption cannot be given, it has to be earned. And I don't think Michael Vick has shown us that he has earned it yet.
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