The Mike Vick story could have been much different if Bad Newz Kennels had simply never existed. If he never spent a year and ten months in prison. He could be on the tail end of his prime, in a hall of fame career. His skills suggested it from the start.
But, He was convicted for killing 29 dogs in extremely brutal ways. He did spend the prime of his career at the Leavenworth Prison. It has made the Michael Vick that you see today.
Vick will be the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, as they play the Jaguars. It is official, he is now an NFL starting quarterback. Again. His story, of the rising phoenix out of its own ashes, has come full circle. There were certainly questions as to whether this day would come, but they were most often answered negatively. Nobody, predicted it would happen this soon.
"This is about Michael Vick and his accelerated play. He's sitting there as possibly the hottest quarterback in the National Football League at this time and deserves an opportunity to play," Andy Reid said after making the decision to start Vick.
It's true, he is the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now. He has played outstanding in the first two games of the season. It looks like we are seeing a revival of the early 2000's. The days where his potential appeared limitless. The only thing that could stop him was the Federal Government.
It is a new day. There are still those who speak out against Michael Vick and the inhumanity of his crimes. Why wouldn't there be? Those people are now furious. This is the day they have feared all along, the day Michael Vick is back where he was before the convictions. Before the prison time. Before the protests.
That is all they see, however. A sports community willing to accept a convicted felon back into this elite profession simply because he has a good arm. They are missing the point. Michael Vick has done his time. He has payed his dues. He is still taking time to speak to school children about the immorality of dog fighting. He seems genuine in his dedication considering he is finished with his mandatory community service.
I think the time has come to put the dog fighting conviction in the past. That does not mean there is a cultural amnesia, or that we are forgetting his crimes. It means that I personally respect Michael Vick for the changes he has made in his life. He has taken his life from bad to good, it is a story of redemption. A story that characterises a desire of all people, to build the negatives of life into positives. It is essentially the American dream.
In 2005, I went to a Falcons vs. Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. I was 14 at the time and I thought it would be incredible to get Michael Vick's autograph, but I heard that did not happen. When the team bus of the Falcons arrived it was followed by a limo, a man close to me said that it was Michael Vick's limo.
I had no idea how this man would have known that or why he seemed so sure but it strikes me that, that is the image people had of Michael Vick. Whether it was true or not people believed he arrived to the games in his own limo that followed the rest of the team on the bus. It went along with the cornrows, the weed smoking, and the cocky demeanor.
Today's Michael Vick is a much more humble and down to earth person. He has been careful about his statement's to the media. He has done everything that has been asked of him up to now. That is why he deserves to put the whole scandal behind him.
He did some incredibly sick things to those animals, but animal cruelty certainly is not rare in this world. As many people watch him start for the second time of the season against the Jags, they will be chewing on a chicken leg. Dog fighting has been around for centuries, it will most likely never stop.
But, Michael Vick was once one of the sports biggest promoters in all of the US. He is now a symbol for the fight against animal cruelty. That is a serious change.
This whole story has been shocking, sickening, violent, and it appeared to have completely destroyed the image and career of Mike Vick. Now, why can't this story have a happy ending? Why can't we allow Michael Vick to remain on the right path, and steadily regain the life he once had? Why are we wrong to cheer for a criminal who says he has changed?
I wrote an article with the same idea back when Michael Vick was signed with the Eagles. It was called Forgiving Michael Vick. There are many people out there that still cannot allow themselves to forgive Vick. But, these people will never be satisfied.
On September 26, 2010, Michael Vick will take the field as the hottest quarterback in the NFL. Everybody is waiting to see what he will do in a full time starting role. Mike Vick is exactly where we all thought he would be. On the day he was drafted as the 1st overall draft pick in the 2001 draft. It is the journey that brought him here that was unexpected.
Through it all we saw the character of Michael Vick back in those days, we saw how ugly it really was. His story is one of redemption. He is the phoenix that rises from it's own ashes. We should not forget who he once was, we should celebrate the person he has become in spite of it. That's right I said I am celebrating Michael Vick.