However, I’m starting to really feel bad for newly acquired Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick. Signed two days ago, Vick will join a powerful offense that includes Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Desean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin.
Offseason moves have made the Eagles front-runners for the NFC Title in some people’s eyes, while others wonder if their defense can stand strong for 16 games.
Slice or dice the Eagles any way you want, they become better with Vick on their squad. Whether they plan to use him as a quarterback or as a special back in the Wildcat offense, he adds a dimension to the team that will make defensive coordinators spend a little more time in the tape room than usual.
But the real story lies in the protest and outrage that is going on over Vick’s reinstatement and signing to the Eagles.
Everyone knew that signing Vick would come with a lot of baggage and upset people who believe Vick should not be allowed to play in the NFL. Those people believe what he has done can never be forgiven, and that the dogs he electrocuted, drowned, and murdered will forever and should haunt his past.
In April of 2007, an investigation of Vick’s unlawful dogfighting ring was implemented and the former overall number one pick was charged in the federal courts four months later. A 23 month sentence was the penalty, and Vick served his due time over the next two years.
Over the course of the last three years, Vick filed for bankruptcy and has lost millions of dollars from endorsements, lawsuits, and the two years of pay he lost while in prison. He was never a perfect citizen, even before the dog scandal, and admittedly has made a lot of mistakes in the past.
While not everyone has served time in a federal prison, we are all guilty of making mistakes in life. One thing that makes our country such a great place is the ability to obtain a second chance and make the most of it.
For 23 months, Vick served the penalty the legal system felt was just for his actions. Say what you will about him getting off easy or that he just accepted a plea bargain to get out as early as he could, the fact of the matter is that he did his time.
During this time, Vick claims that he learned a lot about himself and what he did. Is was a humbling experience for him to be in such a negative spotlight, to be away from his fiance, mother, and children while in jail, and to be away from the game of football during his prime years.
Some believe that while Vick might have paid his legal dues, he is not serious about his apology and that he is just sorry he got caught.
Kids who get caught by the police stealing candy from a department store are sorry they got caught. They apologize to the police, store clerk, and everyone else before going on their merry way. Lesson learned? No.
For Vick, his apology pre-prison would have fallen under the “B.S.” category. However, after 23 months of embarrassment, humility, and sitting in a prison cell all day and night, I am going to give Vick the benefit of the doubt and say he knows and FEELS that what he did was wrong.
Everything he has said in the media about understanding why fans are not going to forgive him, thanking the Eagles for the opportunity to come back, and saying that everything happens for a reason is making him look like he is serious about coming back.
Also, Vick has come back in perfect shape and is ready to perform at a high level for the Eagles. Over the last two months since he has been out of jail, he has maintained his weight and speed and feels in good enough shape to play right away.
In regards to the NFL, Vick isn’t going back to play time where he will mess around in Philadelphia. This is a job for Vick and, for a guy who has filed for bankruptcy, an important one at that. If people believe that Vick should not be allowed to play football is saying that all criminals should just be locked up forever.
What if Vick took a job as a Best Buy employee? Should we burn him at the stake just because of what he did in the past? Just because he has played football before doesn’t mean that not letting him play is going to take away his fun or something. In actuality, Vick will probably work harder at football than most of us will at our jobs.
Andy Reid is taking a huge risk on giving Michael Vick a second chance, but remember that his own sons have been in and out of legal trouble and are no strangers to second chances.
What Vick did was terrible, disgusting, inhumane, and sickening. There’s no denying that what he did will make people angry for a long time and that he has to live with the consequences of his actions.
The truth is, Vick’s image will probably never be restored in full. Vick could win a super bowl, take the Wildcat by storm, and run all over Lincoln Financial Field, but he will still be known as the guy that killed all those dogs. Isn’t that bad enough?
He has already contacted the Humane Society to talk to young kids making sure they do not go down the same path he has. He just finished his first practice with the Eagles and looked good.
He still has a ton to prove to PETA, the Philadelphia Eagles, the fans, and most importantly himself. He has done all the right things to prepare on the field, and has said all the right things to get himself ready off the field. Let’s all give him a chance to do so.