Michael Vick: Redeemed or Thug-for-Life?

Geoff CrawleySenior Analyst INovember 13, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 07:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts on November 7, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Colts 26-24.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There are times I write at the request of others, like here, where my uncle requested a Tiger Woods piece.

There are times where I write about epic journeys, like here, during the Blizzard of 2009.

There are times something pisses me off so badly I have to mock it, like here, with Sam Dalembert’s epic perpetual fail.

And there are times where I need to write just for me, like here, when the Eagles ripped out my heart by trading my favorite player ever.

Like that night, tonight, I write for me. You can follow along if you like.

I am conflicted on how I feel about Michael Vick being the leader of my favorite NFL team. As I write this, I don’t know how this column is going to end. Its purpose tonight is to help me work this out.

I am going to talk in detail about his failings. If you are bored with that, move on.

I have always liked Michael Vick the football player. He is special. He has a unique skill set never before seen in the NFL. Lightning fast with a howitzer on his left shoulder; he scared me to death whenever he played my team, whether against Florida State or the Eagles. Somehow, he always lost, likely because he was trying to do it all himself.

He was once sued for allegedly intentionally transmitting an STD to a woman. Allegedly, he used the alias Ron Mexico while getting tested for STDs. The NFL will not allow you to personalize a jersey with that last name on it.

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But it will allow you to buy a jersey for your dog with Vick’s last name on it.

Two men in a truck registered in his name once were arrested for distributing marijuana.

Once, while out on bail, he tested positive for marijuana.

And the dogs.

Full disclosure: I am not a dog person. At all. I have a scar on my left hand from a dog bite when I was trying to pet a friend’s dog with the friend standing right next to the dog. I do own a dog, only because my six-year-old son wants one.

Her name is Katy.

I don’t like her. Well, she’s alright, I guess. But given a choice, I wouldn’t have her.

Having said all that, I would never hurt her. Never. I would not do the things that Michael Vick did to the dogs in his home. I would not fight her or allow her to be fought. I would not drown her. I would not electrocute her. I would not slam her to the ground repeatedly until she was dead. I would not shoot her.

When this story broke, I didn’t have a dog. Since then, every fantasy team I have ever had, in every sport, has been called Bad Newz Kennels, after Vick’s dog-fighting operation.

I thought he was a thug and would always be a thug, thus was deserving of my scorn.

Funny thing, life.

I have done things in my life of which I am not proud. I am very, very grateful that they are not out for everyone to see. (I have never intentionally killed anyone or anything, except bugs.) I have been in bad situations, and, on average, made far more wrong decisions than right.

However, I am not that person anymore. I won’t get into details because, frankly, it’s none of your business. But suffice it to say, most people would view me differently if they knew about my past.

What if we didn’t know what Mike Vick did? What if his foibles were not public knowledge?

I wouldn’t be writing this, that’s for sure.

When the Eagles signed him, my initial reaction was excitement. I recalled his talent, his human highlight reel plays and what he could bring to the Eagles. My thought was the man just spent 19 months in federal prison. He’s paid his debt to society. (Many people disagree. They have that right.)

Think about that for a minute.

Ever been picked up on anything and spend a day or even a few hours in the county jail? Probably not. Ever feel like you were trapped at, say, your cubicle? Probably.

That’s nothing compared to Leavenworth.

Imagine, for a moment, that you, as a direct result of your actions, now live a life in which your every single action is at the mercy of someone else. I mean everything. When you wake up. When you eat. When you go to the bathroom, without a door, by the way. When you go to bed.

Imagine that you are forced to live in a cage, like the dogs you tortured and killed were. Imagine learning for the first time in your life that everybody doesn’t think dogfighting is OK, and, in fact, that it is not only a crime, but heinous, twisted and sick.

And having to sit with that, in a cage, every day, for 19 months.

There are those that say that wasn’t enough. They say that he should never be allowed in the NFL again. That he should never be a role model for children.

I am not one of those people.

The reason is I have been given a second chance myself, and God willing, I will not waste it. Also, I feel that no sports figure should be a role model, because I don’t really know them.

Mike Vick revealed that to us all.

Has he been redeemed? Is he still a thug?

I don’t know.

He says he’s changed. That he’s a family man.

He is definitely a better football player. He is not killing dogs anymore. He is bringing awareness to dogfighting prevention in a way that no one else can. Is that enough?

Who knows. Frankly, that’s not my call. I’m not in the judging business.

I have two young sons aged 10 and 6. Neither of them really have any clue who Mike Vick is, and even if they did, know better than to idolize any celebrity.

So I guess the question is, am I OK with him being the leader of my favorite team?

I’m gonna say yes. Would I let him dog sit Katy?

I’m gonna say yes to that as well. Because there is no chance he is stupid (sick?) enough to ever harm a dog again. And isn’t that the point here? He did some horrible things. Horrible. Has he changed?

Again, I don’t know. But I think he knows better than to do them again. I can’t read the man’s heart. He seems more humble than he was before. He seems to understand that the world does not revolve around him. And he knows that his past behavior cannot be repeated.

I don’t need more than that.

How about you?


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