Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is back in the news this week after being released from prison to serve out the remainder of his dogfighting sentence at his home in Virginia. Now the questions are being asked: Should Vick be allowed to return to the NFL? Does he deserve a second chance? What team would be crazy enough to take a chance on him? Tony Dungy and the president of the Humane Society seem to think he’s sorry, so what should happen now?
Commissioner Roger Goodell has a tough decision to make it seems, but as far as I’m concerned the precedent has already been set. Adam “Pacman” Jones was involved in numerous incidents, including one where he was indirectly responsible for the shooting and resulting paralysis of a Las Vegas bouncer, but, after apologizing, he was reinstated. There’s no reason Vick shouldn’t receive the same treatment. The things he did were horrible, but he went through the justice system, did his time and it’s time to move on. Maybe he doesn’t deserve a second chance, but we should give it to him anyway.
People argue: “We don’t want him to be a role model.” Too late. Kids watched him for years be the most exciting player in the league. They know what happened. Would you rather have your kids remember the Michael Vick who blew his chance, went to jail and then went back to the same activity when society wouldn’t take him back, or the Michael Vick who blew it, learned his lesson, apologized, got his life back on track and went on to do some good?
And, of course, PETA is up in arms about this. They are demanding that Vick undergo psychiatric testing and suggest that he fits “the American Psychiatric Association profile for anti-social personality disorder.” He’s not a psychopath; he grew up in a culture that condones dogfighting. Goodell is accountable to the fans of his sport, not these wackos, and the fans say let him back in.
Reinstatement is only half the battle for Vick. Some team must decide he is worth the risk. I might be too late for him to make it with a team this year, but I think we’d see him back in uniform for the 2010 season if he’s cleared by the commissioner. Having him sitting on your bench would be pointless: all of the backlash, with none of the benefits. But, Vick is a great talent and if he can become a starter and turn a losing team into a winner, all will be forgiven. We have a short-term memory with players who win, just ask Ray Lewis.