Dear outraged fan,
As an animal lover, I understand your anguish over the signing of Michael Vick. It is often difficult when we are confronted with someone who engaged in acts we find appalling and disgusting.
Growing up in North Philly, I've seen my share of evil things and it can be easy to say; that's just the way it is.
Man's inhumanity to man, to children and to animals is not something I ever want to become desensitized to so I do my best to pursue peace whenever possible and whenever impossible.
I also prefer to be well-informed before I make any type of decision regarding an individual and because of that I offer the following to you:
First, there is no evidence that Michael Vick himself did anything to those dogs himself. There is also no evidence he ever placed a bet on any dog fights, nor derived any pleasure from it.
It seems popular to say that Michael Vick is a sadist who loved torturing and killing dogs, yet if you read the court reports on his case you'll see that all he did was buy a house.
A house for truly sadistic individuals he thought were his friends and he gave them some of his money to live off of.
Yes they used that money to operate a dog-fighting ring and they killed those dogs whenever they didn't need them anymore. When his "friends" tried to pin those injustices all on him in the beginning, he confessed his knowledge of the dog-fighting and it was his testimony that put them behind bars and they're still in a jail cell as we speak.
So yes he does bear the weight of what they did with his money, although he didn't share in their activities. We can speculate all we want as to whether he did, but that's all it would be is speculation.
For simply knowing about the dog-fighting and not reporting it Vick was sentenced to two years in prison and served 20 months, plus another three on house arrest, the longest sentence ever served by anyone convicted of that crime.
He didn't seek an appeal or try to tie the case up red tape and minutia as so many other celebrities do. Nor did he claim innocence to the charges he was faced with, in some people's eyes that may mean nothing, but the facts are the facts.
Secondarily Humane Society of the United States president Wayne Pacelle met with Vick in federal prison in the spring about how the quarterback could help.
"He has an opportunity to make some amends for his past behavior," Pacelle said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "We think he should seize it with gusto. I don't think the public is going to be pleased if he just gets back into football and puts aside the anti-dog fighting activities."
That someone privy to more inhumane animal treatment than any of us would want to be would speak about Vick could make amends for his behavior is substantial.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals president Ed Sayres praised Commissioner Roger Goodell's ruling.
"While his decision to reinstate Mr. Vick undoubtedly will be met with cheers by some and derision by others, it is clear that the commissioner has been particularly thoughtful and has weighed every factor in his deliberations," Sayres said in a statement. "The ASPCA can only offer him our gratitude for the gravity to which he has lent the issue of animal cruelty.
"Opportunities for redemption are rare—but that is exactly the opportunity that awaits Mr. Vick. We hope that he rises to the occasion and proves worthy of the rare second chance commissioner Goodell has granted him."
This is exactly what Vick has in front of him: an opportunity for redemption. Some may think it unfair that he gets to make millions (actually after taxes, fees and money he still owes it's closer to thousands) while in pursuit of this redemption, but that's a separate issue isn't it?
Football is all Vick knows how to do well, and even that is debatable. Convicted felons are allowed to pursue employment after serving their time and no one but the perspective employer can say what job their allowed to have. In fact before his signing with the Eagles, many of those professing outrage were among those in agreement with Goodell's ruling.
That could seem hypocritical to some, but all of us are subject to that flaw.
The decision to sign Vick was not made lightly by those involved, and Jeffery Lurie was exceptionally candid in what drove his decision.
"The question became somewhat, for me, 'Could this man I don't know, Michael Vick, become an agent for change?' Could one be counterintuitive here on my part, take away the hatred for this kind of behavior, and say, 'Going forward, can this human being, Michael Vick, like some that deserve a second chance, could he become a positive force in our community, Philadelphia, nationally?' Could that be, or is this just a method to reinvigorate a career and not really have both the remorse and the commitment?"
These are the questions that Lurie asked himself and as the signing indicates the answer to them was satisfactory for him, although the decision itself still pained him.
To close, I'm not asking you to hide your pain, or to change your opinion.
I'm not asking you to give Michael Vick your forgiveness, because frankly it isn't to you he owes an accounting and you are not the one to provide forgiveness for his actions.
I ask simply that you exercise patience.
For those assuming to know the heart of a man they've likely never met by stating that Vick is not sorry for what he did and is only remorseful about losing money I ask patience.
Under the scrutiny of the media, any false contrition on his part will come to light in due time if that is the case. Truly reformed individuals maintain good behavior well after release, so if Michael Vick is truly seeking to repent he should be allowed time to do so.
For those that believe the Eagles organization is condoning his actions (which took place in the past and which he has been penalized for) by signing him... well honestly that's just dumb. The Eagles have been more active in the community of Philadelphia in the last decade than any of the other three major sports franchises have been in the past century. And always in a positive way.
Understand I am actually not a fan of Vick the player, which has nothing to do with the crimes he's committed. I thought he was lazy well before he admitted as such to James Brown and I have issue with wasted talent. I am however a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, have been since the tender age of 5 and will continue to be as long as there is a franchise in the city I grew up in.
I am also a believer in the possibility of atonement, because it means that I too have an opportunity to right the wrongs I myself have committed if I sincerely wish to.
And who are any of us to deny anyone that opportunity regardless of how we personally feel?
Just a fan