Michael Vick Deserves A Second Chance

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[Fleming’s View]

Suspended NFL star Michael Vick may never play again.

When the disgraced football quarterback was last seen, he was pulling into the driveway of his Virginia home, spent from the long trek from serving 19 months at the federal pen in Leavenworth, Kansas.

He will be monitored with an ankle bracelet by authorities watching to see that he does not get into any trouble during two months of home confinement before his release on July 20.

Odds in Las Vegas are that Vick may sit on the sidelines the rest of his life. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is pissed that Vick lied to him about his involvement in the rough-and-tumble outlaw sport of dog fighting, wants his pound of flesh.

It’s not enough that Vick has served some federal time or offered a hesitant apology. It’s not enough that Vick lost two prime years from his career and the bulk of his $130 million contract.

Vick represents all that is wrong in the NFL, according to Goodell, and he must be made pay for all of the past and potential wrongdoers out there. If you remember, Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely in August 2007 when his heinous crimes against dogs came to light.

“Michael is going to have to demonstrate to myself and the general public and a lot of people – did he learn from this experience?” Goodell proclaimed last week.
“Does he regret what happened? Does he feel he can be a positive influence going forward? Those are questions I would like to see answered when I sit with him.”

And Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wants nothing to do with him. Vick lied to him as well. He told him bold-faced lies to Blank in several meetings so the owner feels the muddied athlete deserves second chance but not with his team.

Once a liar, always a liar. As a red-faced Blank said to reporters, his words clipped and precise: “We’ve made it clear Michael’s not going to play for us again.”
Both Vick’s attorney, Larry Woodward and his agent, Joel Segal know the odds are against Vick. Vick, the former NFL’s highest paid player, will toil as a $10-a-hour job as a construction worker and serve out his three years’ probation after the home confinement is over.

Public sentiment is currently against Vick, for America dearly loves its dogs just like its football and baseball. Remember Lassie and Rin Tin and Tin. Even Toto. Now, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made Vick its pet project.

Just as Vick is the poster boy for the issue of cruelty to animals, PETA wants him to serious  psychiatric evaluation before Goodell even sits down to think about the ex-quarterback being reinstated.

Even a MRI test was mentioned to see if Vick knows right from wrong. That was a joke. But PETA can make trouble for Vick. They can make Vick suffer from public ridicule and financial pressure as the group and its vast following can picket him and any team that signs him. They have that much clout, almost as much as the NRA.
Many sports fans and several pundits say maybe Vick has learned his lesson but the folks over at PETA don’t think so. “Saying sorry and getting his ball back after being caught enjoying killing dogs in hideously cruel ways for many years doesn’t cut it,” said Ingrid E. Newkirk, the PETA president.

Dan Shannon, assistant director of campaigns for PETA, upped the ante after the group decided to not film Vick doing a public service ad. “Even if he does pass this examination you still have to ask yourself somebody who trained dogs to torture and kill one another for sport doesn’t deserve to be rewarded in any way,” Shannon said. “PETA is not taking anything off the table when it comes to any team that may sign Vick.”

Stupid is as stupid does.

Not that Vick is a choir boy. Before the revelations came out about Vick and his merry men at “Bad Newz Kennels,” Vick and his dog fighting pal, Quannis Philips reportedly stole a Rolex watch off an airport x-ray belt in an under- reported 2004 incident.

In a 2006 publicized event, Vick was shown giving the middle finger to a hometown crowd after screwing up. That next year, Vick was seen ditching a bottle with reefer in a secret compartment in the trash at a Miami airport and later was forced to undergo drug testing. Then there was the killing and mutilation of dogs at the compound in rural Virginia that made Vick and his posse infamous.

Former New York Giant Sam Huff said they should feed Vick to his dogs. But can anybody in the NFL talk about the errors in Vick’s ways? Jeff Benedict, writing in his 1999 bestselling Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, noted that 21 percent of NFL players have been charged with a serious crime. He listed Cornelius Bennett for rape and sexual assault, Michael Irvin for abuses of coke and marijuana, Nate Newton for sexual assault, Warren Moon for domestic abuse, Andre Rison for assault, Bruce Smith for DUI, and Deion Sanders for assault and battery. That’s the short list.

In nearly 15 months between 2006 and 2007, more than 50 NFL players out of a league of 2,000 athletes ran afoul of the law. The colorful cast of the infamous included Chris Henry, Terry “Tank” Johnson, Charles Sharon, Jeremy Stevens, Johnathan Joseph, and Adam “Pacman” Jones’ incidents at the “scrip” clubs. In 2000, then -Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis, wearing a mink coat with his posse, didn’t tell the truth about the deadly fight outside the Cobalt Lounge where two men died. Or Green Bay Packer Mark Chmura being charged with sexual assault on a drunken 17-year-old babysitter. Or former Carolina Panther receiver Rae Carruth being charged with arranging a deadly “hit” on his pregnant girlfriend. 

New York Times sportswriter William C. Rhoden eloquently wrote in his May 17 column: “What does Goodell want, and what act of contrition will meet his standard of remorse? Vick has lost almost everything. He has been disgraced before the public, his family, and his friends. He is bankrupt. You don’t think he’s sorry? You don’t think Vick feels remorse? Or is the real issue humility? Perhaps we want a see a proud man humbled.”

In a week that saw two former NFL players charged for major crimes, one for drug and burglary crimes and the other for the murder of a rich businessman, Goodell must not yield to the animal lobby and other Vick-haters in a matter of common sense and compassion.

We want Vick on his knees, groveling for forgiveness. He must pay. However, second chances are nothing new in America. A redeemed and rehabbed Vick deserves one just as much as the next fellow, given he follows the straight and narrow.

Please post your comments directly online or submit them for publication to milton@blackstarnews.com

"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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