Does Michael Vick Deserve a Second Chance? I Say Yes

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

6 Jan 2002: Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of  the Atlanta Falcons sneaks a pass off before being tackled by Leonard Little #91 of the St.Louis Rams at the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri.The St. Louis Rams beat the Atlanta Falcons 31-13.  DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa /Getty Images

If you're a fan of Virginia Tech football, then you were undoubtedly a fan of Michael Vick.  His elusive play, explosive arm, and uncanny athletic ability took the Virginia Tech program to new heights.  Heights that it had never seen before and hasn't seen since his departure.

Frank Beamer and Vick are the primary reasons Virginia Tech football is one of the premier football programs in the nation. Beamer took over at his alma mater as head coach in 1987, and after six years of mediocrity, Beamer is a living legend among Hokie faithful.

With 16 consecutive bowl appearances and 176 wins as the head coach at Virginia Tech for the former Tech cornerback, Beamer has written his legacy as one of the premier coaches in the history of college football.

There is one thing, though. Beamer has only one national championship appearance, which was a loss to Florida State on Jan. 4, 2000. The starting quarterback of that Virginia Tech football team was Vick. 

Vick is hands down the greatest football player in Virginia Tech history, and he only played football two out of his three years at the university. Had Vick stayed an extra year, maybe he and Beamer win a national championship together.

Vick left Blacksburg in the physical form, but his face and name still hovers in the Virginia Tech community. Vick donated countless dollars to the football program and the university. He also gave a lot of money to the families of the Apr. 16 victims.

Then, shortly after Apr. 16, 2007, the news broke about Vick. The biggest question was if he was involved or not.  Many people, including Beamer and former teachers of the superstar quarterback, thought for sure there was no validity to the accusations. 

Unfortunately, there were.

Vick, once the most beloved Virginia Tech player of all-time, had been convicted of a felony dogfighting charge. The crimes he committed were horrible, and he served a proper punishment for the crime.

Many Virginia Tech alumni wanted to rid the university of the Vick name—not only because of Michael, but because of the mark brother Marcus left during his stay in Blacksburg.

However, the university refused to take down his banner in Lane Stadium, where all of the other Virginia Tech greats are honored, and the university refused to rid itself of "Michael Vick Hall," which was named after Vick for donating money to build the Merryman Athletic Center, which is where the Virginia Tech athletic offices and trophies are located.

Hateful remarks about Vick flooded the nation, and Blacksburg wasn't immune.

Disappointment and disbelief were my thoughts on the situation, but for once the legal system didn't let an athlete walk away with only a slap on the hand.

Examples of such instances are many. Donte Stallworth served 24 out of 30 days in jail for committing vehicular manslaughter, while his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Ray Lewis was involved with the stabbing deaths of two people outside of a nightclub the year before the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and he received a year of probation, no suspension from the NFL, and a $250,000 fine from the United States.

Leonard Little also committed vehicular manslaughter while driving with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system and served 90 days in jail.  A few years later he was handed a second DUI, and found his way back into the NFL after both offenses. 

And don't even get me started on Adam "Pacman" Jones.  By the way, did anyone see that video of Jones on ESPN the other day?

Fact of the matter is, these people committed horrible, disgusting crimes, sometimes multiple crimes, and were given not only a second chance to play in the NFL again, but a third chance.

If Michael Vick isn't allowed back into the NFL, or if a team doesn't want to take a chance on him because of the media attention he will bring, it will be a joke of sorts.

I'm sure you can find a player on every NFL team that has committed some sort of crime.  Not to say that any of them are as bad as killing a man because you were driving your Bentley around while you were drunk, or funding a dogfighting operation, but to not sign Vick because of the attention he would bring to your team is a weak excuse.

Many people are dog/animal lovers.  I'm one of them.  Many people love other human beings too, don't they? If we have people in the NFL who have killed other people, on purpose or not, those teams that signed those players had to face a certain amount of criticism. I don't see or hear any protesters outside of those franchises anymore.

The economy is another reason teams want to stay away from Vick. This, to me, is another weak excuse.  The main argument for owners afraid of the economic impact of Vick is, "Well, we might lose some season-ticket holders." 

Unless you're the Detroit Lions or St. Louis Rams I'm sure there are plenty of people waiting for season tickets. So if some people leave others will come.

And you can't tell me if Vick was brought to a team and that team was making a playoff push, that people wouldn't come to watch because they have a dog named Buddy at home. Let's be real.

Whether you're a Virginia Tech fan, Atlanta Falcons fan, an NFL fan, a fan of Michael Vick, or a lover of dogs, you have to believe the man deserves another shot in society.  And if you say no without thinking about it, let's think about it.

I'm sure you've come across someone in your life that has committed a crime—let's say felony. That person may be a friend, relative or an acquaintance of some sort. Unless the crime committed was in the field in which that person works, I would have no objection with that person returning to their original job. 

Although the crime Vick committed is considered violent, it's not like he's a threat to another human being's life. 

People make mistakes and the NFL would be making a mistake if they didn't give him a chance to prove to everyone that he has changed.  For you dog lovers out there, don't worry, he's not allowed to own any animals for the rest of his life.

The coming days will determine if Vick is able to return to the NFL, and I think Goodell will reinstate him. The biggest question for Vick heading into his future is, will he be given a second chance, not only in the NFL but in society?


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