Michael Vick's return to the NFL last season did not see the acrimony that many expected. Convicted of animal abuse and gambling felonies, Vick spent 23 months in prison and was simultaneously suspended from the NFL.
Signed as a back-up to Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia last season, Vick now finds himself in the marquee role—and doing very well. This new starting role—essentially his real arrival in the NFL—has stirred up much of the negative feelings about Vick and his presence in the National Football League.
Here are five reasons Vick should be where he is, as an NFL starter.
1. Vick pleaded guilty
Perhaps it was because he knew he was caught red handed, but whatever the reason, Vick did not waste time and taxpayer money by opting for a long, drawn-out trial.
Given the millions of dollars at his disposal at that time, he certainly could have done such (as in the cases of O.J. or Roger Clemens). For better or worse, Vick began owning up to his transgressions as soon as he made that plea.
2. Vick did his time
This point gets a lot of mileage, but one wonders if folks really think about what that means. In the state where Vick was convicted, he was given a sentence under the sentencing guidelines for his offenses. Leniency was undoubtedly offered because Vick pleaded guilty, but he still served 23 months.
Those who think that this sentence is too light are certainly entitled to their opinions, but Vick was not sentenced differently than anyone else who pleads guilty in those circumstances. If the time did not fit the crime, Vick is not to be held accountable for that; it needs to be taken up with the judicial system.
3. Vick is talented
No favors have been done for Michael Vick outside of his initial reinstatement by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Even calling that a favor seems like a stretch since Goodell is known for being rather strict with players who break the law and he did make the reinstatement conditional based upon Vick’s behavior.
So, he comes in as a back-up and because of the McNabb trade and the Kevin Kolb injury in Week 1, Vick has gotten a chance to play and has proven to be an asset to the team.
Those who question whether or not a convicted felon deserves to make $5 million-plus per year need to consider what they are saying.
If we decide that a talented athlete who is released from prison should not have the privilege of playing football, where does the line get drawn?
If an actor goes to prison, should he not be allowed to act once he’s released? What about an architect? Should he not be allowed to design?
Or maybe it should not be just high salaried folks. If a butcher gets released from prison, should he not be allowed to practice his trade because is it the place where he can make the best wage?
Saying that Vick should not be allowed to practice his trade because he was in prison goes against everything the prison system contends to be about—rehabilitation.
4. Vick has kept his nose clean
Aside from one minor altercation that the police did not consider Vick to be involved in, nor did the Commissioner, Vick has been above reproach since his release from prison. Aside from the obvious staying out of the kind of trouble that he got into in the first place, he has stayed out of the news and out of the spotlight right up until this positive press he’s received for his role on the field.
Perhaps even more important is that Vick's attitude has seemed to change significantly. He went from the cocky self-aggrandizing prima donna that played with the Falcons to a player who, thus far, has let his playing do the talking.
His press interaction is brief and respectful. His Twitter account hasn’t included anything news worthy and he’s not arguing with coaches or teammates and trying to hog the spotlight like the Michael Vick that left the NFL for jail.
5. Vick's crimes must be kept in perspective
Everyone who is an animal lover cringed in horror when the details of the dog fighting kennel were made known. It made the most ardent cynic wonder just what sort of evil had to be inside of a man like Michael Vick to make him capable of such a thing.
A lot was made of the idea that Vick had grown up in a culture where such events were not frowned upon. Maybe that is so and maybe it matters. What matters more is that we are talking about animals.
Vick plays in a league where men guilty of taking human lives play and make their big salaries. It is a league where players can commit offense after offense, crimes ranging from soliciting prostitution, to drug use, to domestic violence, and still end up playing.
Are those who would ban Vick from the league saying that in the hierarchy of felonious behaviors, cruelty to animals and gambling, while certainly detestable and horrific, are somehow worse than putting your wife in the hospital after a beating or killing someone with your car while under the influence?
The bottom line is this: Either you ban all felons from the league or you don’t.
While it seems ludicrous to think that anyone would even begin to try to assign a point value to the transgressions that professional athletes are guilty of, what other logic would there be to protesting Michael Vick’s presence in the Philadelphia backfield?
Moreover, the lack of protests where the murderers and domestic abusers are concerned seems like more of a travesty than it could ever be for Vick to be given a second chance.
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