By now, you have probably seen the Vick Viral Videos, or were they Vindictive (Vick-dictive?) Vick Videos captured (by a Hunter) during Super Bowl weekend.
If you're like many who post and even write on this very site, just the name "Michael Vick" probably inspires an incredibly strong reaction, even strong by the standards of the uniquely polarizing times in which we live.
There are a number of angry people who would damn the Eagles quarterback for eternity no matter what good he may achieve in the coming years. There are probably an equal number of people who will praise him no matter what he has done, and (hopefully won't) do in the future.
So sure, there are a lot of angry, impassioned voices on both sides, and often those voices are given columns or talk shows or other forums to express them. Many of them can't be reasoned with, and while I'd like to take the approach that everyone can be, that's not always realistic.
To the remaining (is it still 60 percent or so of us?) I ask the following:
1. Should we care that Michael Vick received the mythical, if physical, key to the city of Dallas, Texas?
2. Should we care that it was given by the Mayor Pro Tem of Dallas, Dwaine Caraway, and not the actual mayor, Tom Leppert?
3. Should we worry about Dallas radio personality Richard Hunter's video of Michael Vick and his bodyguards inelegantly restraining Hunter from having a conversation with Vick moments after the ceremony that awarded him that key to the city?
Below are one man's takes on these questions. Reasonable people may, and perhaps some should, disagree with some of these opinions, but this is written by someone with no agenda other than the promotion of a reasonable dialogue.
The only person I "know" in this discussion is Michael Vick, and I've never met him. Living in the Philadelphia area, I've never heard of Caraway, know next to nothing of Leppert and Richard Hunter wasn't on my radar before his aforementioned video got exposure.
THE KEY TO THE CITY
On Saturday, February 5, one day before the Super Bowl was won by the Green Bay Packers, Michael Vick showed up to TV Textbook's Super Teen Saturday event and spoke for a few minutes to a group of teens. After his little pep talk, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Caraway presented Vick the key to the city of Dallas.
Now, perhaps it's debatable what a "key to a city" really means, but it's reasonable to assume that one receives such a key based on achievements that somehow make the community (whether local or national) a better place to live.
If that definition is close to the pin, it seems quite a stretch to award this to Michael Vick.
I say that with no malice toward Vick whatsoever, and I don't care that Dallas is awarding it to a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback when that rivalry has been so strong. That’s immaterial to this discussion, even if I’ve spent most of my lifetime rooting fervently for the Eagles and against the Cowboys.
If Vick had a long record of outstanding community service that at least seemed to be purely from the goodness of his heart, that would be a different case.
As it is, Michael Vick appears to be on the road back to personal and societal redemption, although he has still just taken a step or two on that long journey. But the man is still on probation from the unconscionable acts that he committed which led to his incarceration.
It is hard to imagine the mindset of the "2006 Michael Vick" that was capable of taking part in such hideous activities. "Cultural differences" never began to explain it for me, and I never accepted the explanation that he made a (as in one) mistake.
At the same time, it is not reasonable or fair to damn the man for all time.
He should be given time and every chance to turn his life around, and he appears to be on the right path.
On the football field, he had a remarkable season in which he shook off a lot of rust to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He won the Comeback Player of the Year Award and was a leading MVP candidate for most of the season. He returned to this high level of play not only because of his prodigious gifts but by also working harder and smarter than he ever had.
But doing this should not have won Michael Vick the key to any city, when he is not even eight months removed from a shooting incident that at the very least (giving him every possible benefit of the doubt) showed miserable judgment on his part.
Vick received a major mulligan from all involved— including the legal system, the NFL and the Eagles—and he was not even given a suspension for his his role in the birthday party shooting.
Again, he appears to be doing the right things since then, but we should give him more time—much more time—before deciding that he has completed his journey.
SHOULD THE MAYOR PRO TEM HAVE AWARDED THE KEY?
It is an understatement for me to say that I nothing about Dallas politics nor the relationship between Dennis Caraway and Tom Leppert.
In researching who has been awarded and who has given the key to the city of Dallas, I found this blog posted by Richard Bush on dallasnews.com:
So, it seems that the mayor is not usually the one who hands out these keys, but perhaps this was the first time that Mayor Leppert had criticized his second-in-command for his wisdom in selecting a controversial recipient.
I'll let those two have this debate, and admittedly, the whole "key to the city" business seems a little silly. But, it should stand for notable personal or charitable achievements, and I stand by my point that it is way premature to award something like this to Vick.
RICH HUNTER OR "WITCH HUNTER?"
You may have seen Richard Hunter's video of his trying to have a word with Vick right after the quarterback pocketed the key to Big D.
If not or maybe even so, you may wish to take a look:
I'm trying to decide if this video proved anything or not.
It seems that if you are a zealous defender of Vick, you'll see Hunter as someone trying to make a name for himself by tearing Vick down.
If you don't care for Vick, you will see in this video proof that Vick does not care for dogs, that he is a fake, and surrounds himself by a bunch of nasty-sounding thugs that he calls "bodyguards."
I don't question that Richard Hunter, who took one of Vick's "bait dogs" (named Mel) into his home, is very sincere about his love and devotion for dogs. He may be an exceptionally good man: I don't know him, and I don't know his radio shtick.
Here is a piece from the June 23, 2010 Dallas Observer about Hunter and the dog he and his family adopted.
But can a man who has described Vick as "pure evil" make a video or report that is fair to Vick, and his reputation? Doubtful, but possible, and I question what this video reveals about the QB.
I don't know if Vick was aware of Hunter prior to his approaching him (some would say ambushing him) in the manner that he did, and I'm not sure if they have had any other conversations or confrontations. I also do not know if Hunter had tried other, less intrusive ways to have a true conversation with Vick.
As for Vick, one would think that he would be a little more polished in his response to Hunter. Being surrounded by bodyguards that throw f-bombs at a man that wants Vick to take a look at "Mel" at best is poor public relations, and at worst leads to conclusions that he has not changed a bit since 2006.
Perhaps Michael Vick could have instructed his team to hand Hunter (or whoever it may be) the card for his publicist or whoever handles his public affairs. "Sir, this is not the place for a conversation, but please contact so-and-so."
I am not ready to arrive at the conclusion that Vick is a phony who does not care one bit about the dogs that he tortured. I also think that we should judge Vick by his actions and his public statements. It would be wonderful if he truly has had a change of heart and has put all his demons behind him, but I'll settle for his actions and his words to be the right ones.
I am also not ready to proclaim Vick as a humanitarian or even a humane person when he has only taken a baby step or two on his journey. Let's judge his actions and public statements over more than a year's time. And like it or not, he really should not be afforded any more missteps.
Perhaps, it's too much to ask in this age of instant information, opinion and spin that we give this whole consideration the luxury of more time. But that is what is needed here.
Think about it.
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