Michael Vick: Done His Time or Life Sentence?

Jim McNultyCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 15:  Michael Vick #7 prepares to throw a pass in a workout at the NovaCare Complex on August 15, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

There's no one person that was more ecstatic about the Eagles' signing of Michael Vick than anyone else on this planet: Rick Pitino.

Suddenly, it wasn't his face plastered all over ESPNews and CNN all day long.

No, now the vicious animal known as the 24-hour news cycle had a new victim to sink its into.

Not that it's undeserved.

By now, everyone with a keyboard or microphone has opined, postulated and grandstanded over Philadelphia's latest—and rather confusing—player acquisition.

Everyone, but yours truly, of course.

Why the delay?  Good question.

First off, I'm not quite sure what to say. My initial reaction was a loud, "WHAT?!?"  Still, several days later, I still don't know quite what to think about the move.

We all know what he did, and you'd have to be rather insensitive to not find it repugnant and reprehensible.  We don't have to rehash the gruesome details—or do we?

Two years have passed, and just about everyone wants to move on—not the least of whom is Vick. 

The man spent two years in Leavenworth, a federal PMITA prison (see Office Space for an explanation of the acronym if you can't figure it out).  You can imagine he's quite anxious to return to life outside of prison walls.

But is he "entitled?"  Has he indeed paid his debt to society?

A court ruled Vick spend the better part of two years in federal prison for his crimes.

Is that enough for what he did? 

Which begs the question, "Are any jail sentences enough?"  Because really, anyone that's ever served time is labeled as an "ex-con."

Do you want an ex-con living next door to you?

Would you want an ex-con teaching your kids?  Or as your nurse in the hospital?

What about driving your bus?  Or flipping your burgers?

You see, the part I have a problem with is that I see both sides. Yes, the man committed horrible crimes, and I didn't want him on my football team—nor did I think the Eagles of all teams would be the ones to give him a shot.

But Vick did do his time, and his skill set is as a football player.  So, if you feel he shouldn't be allowed to play football, what should he be allowed to do?

How high up the visibility ladder should ex-con's be allowed to work?

Is it only jobs that pay millions of dollars in a high-profile setting that should be off limits?

Do we allow them to do their time, then try to re-enter society?

Whether you feel prison is for rehabilitation or punishment, at some point most convicted criminals get out of jail. Those who don't—or can't—re-enter society find themselves back in prison.

Or is that what you prefer?

At first glance, Vick seems like someone who every much does not want to end up going back there, and wants to do his part to help turn around the "culture" of dog fighting that he grew up with.

So what will it be?

What do we really have a problem with?  Is it the jealousy that someone like Vick still gets to earn a multi-million dollar salary?  Did we think the sentence was too light? Then we have a problem with the law under which Vick was convicted.

Regardless of what you think of the man, his crimes and his sincerity, the fact remains you have to let someone try to rebuild his life when he gets out of the slammer.

Otherwise, every crime is a life sentence.  It's just a matter of what we let them put on their return address.


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