I always proceed with extreme caution when it comes to honoring comeback stories, especially ones in the same vain as Michael Vick's. First, I believe celebrating one's triumphs over self-inflicted adversity is doing a great injustice to those who did the right thing and didn't put themselves in such positions in the first place. Second, I have a hard time finding sincerity in those who say they changed. When a man gets caught cheating by his wife he usually breaks down and apologizes. But, is he sorry for what he did, or for the fact that he got caught? Michael Vick is changing that.
It gets lost on us what the prison system is actually called. They are correctional facilities. In which the purpose is for inmates to correct their mistakes of the past, learn from them, and become a productive member of society. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. It's well documented the majority of inmates released end up going back to jail. Over 60 percent return to jail within a year of their release. Once a criminal, always a criminal. In the case of Michael Vick the prison system may have found its poster boy for a success story.
Don't get me wrong. As an avid animal lover, I was disgusted by the acts Vick was convicted of three years ago. I viewed him as a horrible person and carried my usual pessimistic view of his rehabilitation. If it wasn't such a serious and disturbing case, I would have laughed when he gave his infamous statement that he found Jesus on the day he was convicted. Why is it so hard to find believers among criminals until AFTER they are caught committing a crime.
With a skeptical eye I observed Vick as he served his time in prison. I heard he became an active member of PETA and the humane society. I wondered if something finally clicked in his head.
Despite my critical view of his character, I was fascinated by Vick's return to the NFL in 2009. When he went to the Eagles I figured it was a good fit. They already had a franchise quarterback and an heir apparent in waiting.
When Philadelphia cut ties with Donovan McNabb this past off season and handed Kevin Kolb the starting job, Vick became an afterthought. He understood why. The man who had to build his life from scratch was given zero opportunity to compete for a starting job. He would have to wait. Fortunately for Vick, waiting was something he became good at while in prison.
In Week 1 when Kolb went down with a concussion after a terrible first half, Vick got his chance. He finally had his opportunity. In two-and-a-half games Michael Vick hasn't looked as good as he did during his best years in Atlanta. He has looked BETTER.
I have never been to jail nor do I plan to go. In rare occasions it appears some of the incarcerated do in fact rehabilitate. Perhaps they do an entire indictment on their lives. What they need to improve upon, what they need to change, etc. Vick came into the NFL as the next big thing at quarterback. With incredible quickness and a rocket arm he looked to be the catalyst of the next breed of superstar quarterback. He did have some success such as leading the Falcons to the 2004 NFC Championship game and the first quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards. But there seemed to be something missing. Something he didn't have that would put him over the top as an elite quarterback.
While in prison, it appears that Vick performed an indictment on his life and his NFL career. He is now the Michael Vick that was drafted number one overall. My skepticism is waning and I am letting my guard down. This is America. The land of opportunity and second chances. Finally we have an example of someone who took that opportunity. Michael Vick was once the most vilified men in America. Let’s see if he can become one of the most respected.