Philadelphia Eagles: It's Okay To Forgive Michael Vick

Tim Fitzgerald@TimmyFitz76Contributor IDecember 10, 2010

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 02:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against the Houston Texans at Lincoln Financial Field on December 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

I feel I have to start with this disclaimer when talking about moving on from further shaming Michael Vick for his past:  

I’m an avid dog lover.  I treat mine as if he were my son.  Parent and pack leader aren’t that different after all.  I have owned over a dozen dogs in my life and have treated them all like family.  

I donate to the SPCA and The Humane Society.  My mother and aunt are serous animal rights activist.  My aunt has created and sponsored legislation in California to further animal rights and I fully support her.

I helped get prop B in Missouri to regulate dog breeders and stop puppy mills passed by writing pieces to inform the public of the special provisions the new laws would provide.

Plus, I haven’t eaten a fellow mammal in over 10 years.

AND I think Michael Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL.  

Sure, I wanted Vick to serve his full 24-month sentence instead of being released after 18 months.  When he first got out of prison, I wanted an eight-game (half-season) suspension.  I definitely didn’t want him signing with the two NFL teams I love and the cities I represent, Oakland and St. Louis.

If I were a GM or coach immediately after his release, I wouldn’t have wanted him to play QB.  He’d have to learn another position.  Hell, I didn’t think I’d be able to look him in the eye if I saw him in person.

He would have to prove himself to me...

and he has.

I don’t claim to be able to see someone’s aura or peer into their soul when looking into their eyes.  However, there is a different vibe about Vick now from his dog-fighting days.  

You can see the simple humility.  You can see the shame.  You can see change in the way he speaks and acts.  

Even the sight of him in his green Eagles jersey is more psychologically soothing than clips of him in his Falcons uniform.  Knowing what was going on in his life then attaches a blood-on-his-hands connotation in that blood-red jersey.

But, playing football is his job.  If more felons were allowed to return to work after passing a series of tests and receiving approval from a commissioner-type figure, we’d have a lot less repeat offenders.  I mean, corporate criminals are often allowed to re-enter their field, so fair is fair.

He could have been banned by the NFL or suspended a full season, and thus played in a lesser league.  But, being a big fish in a small pond wouldn’t have finished his transformation on and off the field.  He may have never fixed some bad habits in his footwork and reads.  Nor would he have been as humbled.

Being a relatively broke, back-up QB on a winning team with Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb was critical.  Having to struggle for his next pay would be good for him and would continue the process of learning from his mistakes.  

He had to have his status as a starting QB taken away from as well as his freedom.  And immediately getting a big contract may have lead to him keeping other bad habits.

It’s best he slowly earns his money for his improved performance and it is best he eventually does get a big pay day again.  

The more he makes, the more that can be funneled to his creditors, to the care for the dogs he killed and psychologically damaged and for future funds allocated to animal rights causes.  And I guess his lawyers should get their cut too.

I am still looking for quotes or an interview from Vick about how his view of dogs and animals has changed since his incarceration for my own personal feelings to be truly clear on Michael Vick.

But, as far as covering him as a football player and inquiring into whether or not he’s reformed as a human being, I think the sports media has done a good job.  I feel they address his past properly when covering the present.  

I would prefer the rest of the mainstream media cover dog fighting stings and prosecutions as vigorously when a famous athlete isn’t involved as they did with Vick.

I don’t blame the NFL for wanting Vick to remain in their league.  Him playing in the UFL or an Arena league would not only take attention and revenue away from them, but I do feel they actually cared about how his life turned out.  If he failed, it would look bad on the league and they wanted to get him under their now stricter supervision.

I realize some can’t forgive Vick for not thinking he was doing anything wrong while involved in dog fighting, but, it’s a different world where he’s from.

Newport News Virginia is country and ghetto.  That’s a bad combo and a breeding ground for dog fighting, literally.  

And honestly, though I love dogs and animals, I do feel there are current players in the NFL who have gotten away with worse.  And that’s just the ones we know of and I’m sure plenty there’s plenty that we don’t.  

From Leonard Little, to Dante Stallworth, to Lawerence Phillips, to Lawerence Taylor, to well... Big Ben Roethlisberger (who, by the way, said the most phony-sounding “God is good” in his post-game interview after beating the Baltimore Ravens), there have been plenty of less-than reputable characters allowed to play in the NFL.

The same fuss is not made over them.  Which shows how far animal rights have come, but also shows a double standard.  

Which on a side note creates more confusion for me on how some these guys are still playing and out of jail, while Plaxico Burress gets more time for shooting himself?  I guess I’ll never get that one.

So it’s okay to root for Vick.  Believing in reform over banishment does not make you a bad person.  Oh, and I almost forgot, God is good.