Vick Already Forgiven? bumped
Not around here. But after a weekend of dithering, yesterday Michael Vick came
out to apologize. Oh, and also reveal he’s found Jesus. Praise the Lord, a passing
Some commentators were quick to say Vick deserves to get back in the NFL. Ed
Schultz covered it yesterday morning on his show in the most bizarre way possible.
He said Michael Vick had a bad childhood. Well, boo-hoo. He long ago left
that nightmare behind for a hundred million dollar NFL contract, plus endorsements. Lots of people suffer harrowing things as children, never to see such riches, and they don’t resort to murdering animals (though clearly many abused kids go through that violent acting out, however, most get over it even if they don’t get paid into the nine figure market). Vick’s
dog fighting and gambling ring, complete with dogs being hung and killed when
Vick didn’t like their performance, is a choice this multi-millionaire hot shot
NFL player made. It cost him. Tough.
Late yesterday on “Hannity & Colmes”, Hannity played clips of
radio listeners calling in to a couple of radio shows to say that Vick was getting a raw deal because he
was black. It was O.J. like reactions all over again.
On “Countdown” last night, Keith Olbermann came to Vick’s aid as
well, though he had the good judgment not to bring up his childhood or the race
issue. Olbermann actually brought up some good points, but he didn’t come close
to convincing me.
Those who hate Vick have made no secret they expect the judge, at sentencing
on December 10, and the Commissioner of the National Football League (as soon
as possible thereafter), to punish him with the lengthiest prison term, the
heaviest fine, the most definite of indefinite suspensions.
And here’s why they are wrong.
If you hate him, the equation should be pretty simple. His $130 million contract
is gone, his freedom is gone, his reputation is gone. We already know what
he is — we’re now just arguing about the price. And the real price
comes due after jail and after the suspension, when Michael Vick tries to
return to football in 2010, maybe 2009.
But the sooner the better.
No NFL miscreant has been so vilified while an active player. Not gun-play
and trouble-at-strip clubs veteran Pacman Jones. Not serial batterer and general
trouble-maker Lawrence Phillips. Not turned-state’s-evidence-against-his-friends-in-a-murder-trial
Ray Lewis. Not a drunk driver who killed a mother, Leonard Little, in 1998
and was then arrested anew for driving drunk in 2004. .. …
… .. Initially, in his convoluted, lawyered-up and agent-approved guilty
plea last week, his “I didn’t actually kill any dogs myself, I
only told others to” speech, Vick seemed to not understand that his
only hope was to absorb and retain as much guilt as possible that any chance
of redemption for him depended entirely on his willingness to take responsibility,
and blame and punishment.
Thus his statement today, “I want to apologize for all the things that
I’ve done, and that I have allowed to happen,” was exactly the
He did not repeat the nuance, and the loophole-filled admission. He did not
“Pete Rose” it. And now comes the tough part. Do not get me wrong,
he is Michael Vick not Michael Victim.
But if you think him evil, you should still be rooting for him to be returned
to football, as soon as possible, from the hell of incarceration, and the
hell of suspension, to the hell of a life as Michael Vick, would-be quarterback,
pleading for a job while the hounds of public approbation are nipping at his
It’s worth asking why a drunk NFL athlete who kills a mother doesn’t get worse
treatment. Or why a serial batterer gets ignored. Vick’s behavior towards animals
seems to reveal the very core of his humanity or lack thereof. Murdering dogs
by electrocution or hanging? What kind of barbarian does that? Dog fighting
is bad enough.
I think it’s ridiculous to talk about what Vick deserves, especially at this
point. Schultz sounded completely out of touch. Olbermann
is a terrific news man and sportscaster, with Schultz a former football player
himself. But they’re missing the mark by a mile on this one. It’s way too soon
to absolve Vick of his heinous crimes. I don’t hate him for it. I want him punished
for them. So what he lost money, prestige and his career? That’s what happens
to most of us when we screw up royally. A heartfelt apology is a beginning.
Everyone deserves a second chance. Absolutely. But just like everyone else Michael
Vick has to earn it.