His resurgence as a great NFL quarterback is causing a lot of buzz and making people choose sides once again.
Are we willing to forgive Vick his transgressions or do we continue to hold them against him?
It’s not a football question, really. Then again, it’s difficult to take his performance with the Philadelphia Eagles out of the equation. If Vick Vick hadn’t returned to the NFL following his release from prison, where he was sent for two years because of his ties to dog fighting, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. He would have faded off into the sunset and only occasionally even touched our minds.
But because Vick has come back better than ever – his performance on “Monday Night Football” this week was one of the best in NFL history – it’s worth talking about his rehabilitation as a human being, as well as a football player.
I’m on Vick’s side. As far as I’m concerned, he served his time and I’m willing – eager, even – to offer him a second chance. People, I believe, can get better and learn from their mistakes. I know many who don’t feel the same way, who think a bad apple is always a bad apple, no matter how much red paint you apply.
I’m not going to pretend to know what is inside Vick’s head. Perhaps he misses dog fighting. Perhaps he would love nothing more than to chain up a bunch of defenseless animals and put them in vicious fights in front of excited patrons. Maybe he wants to kill the weak dogs, the dogs that won’t fight, himself. Maybe nothing inside Vick has changed.
However, evidence suggests that is not the case. Vick said all the right things in all the right ways upon his release from prison. He gladly and thankfully took a third-string quarterback job with the Eagles, guaranteed nothing except a place to go to work. He didn’t make waves last season when he was Donovan McNabb’s back-up in Philadelphia and he didn’t start a ruckus this season when it appeared he would be the No. 2 QB for the Eagles behind Kevin Kolb.
He just went about his business. And when he was given an opportunity because of injuries to Kolb, he made the most of them before getting hurt himself.
Now back as the starter, Vick looks like’ the NFL’s most electric player, which he formerly was in Atlanta. One difference, however. Vick is more skilled. He has put in the work, from all accounts. He has made himself a better passer and taken the time to acclimate himself to the nuances of playing his position. He’s a quarterback in the’ truest sense of the word and his six-touchdown performance against the Washington Redskins (fourth through the air, two on the ground) is the talk of the football world.
Unfortunately, some of that talk comes back around to his crime. A terrible crime. I felt like 99 percent of the people in America at the time, that Vick had performed despicable acts and thus must be a despicable human being. I don’t think any of us were wrong, at the time.
Time passes. People change. It’s encouraging to learn that somebody could come out of prison as a better person because that isn’t the norm. Yet isn’t one of the purposes of prison – at least for people who have not committed capital crimes – to reform? Shouldn’t we have all been pulling for Vick to make something better of himself when he first went behind bars?
Thus, isn’t his return to the NFL and his great performance as a quarterback one of the most positive sports stories you can remember?
I mentioned to someone the other day that The Michael Vick Story cries out to be a movie. Vick was one of the best college football players of all-time at Virginia Tech. He had it all, too early. He felt invincible, I’m sure, as if he could do anything he wanted.
The dog fighting was a part of his culture. I’m not convinced he even knew better. That doesn’t excuse his behavior. Again, he rightly was convicted to serve a prison term. He was punished for his deplorable crime.
But the Vick that has come out the other side is one we should be pulling for. Those who still despise him are, in my opinion, missing the bigger picture. Forget football and the NFL, Vick has so much to give society. He is an example of the way things should work in American society when at first they don’t work.
If our criminal justice system consistently worked the way it did for Vick, how much better and more productive would America be?
You don’t have to like his crime. Nobody should. But how can you not appreciate the new man – and football player – who has emerged.
* There has been some good Cardinals news lately. First, St. Louis reached an agreement on a two-year deal with right-handed pitcher Jake Westbrook. He’s a very good No. 4 starter and helps solidify the rotation. Glad to have him back. Now, let’s get to work on that lineup, fellas.
Secondly, the greatest Cardinal of them all – Stan (The Man) Musial – will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. Musial A grass-roots campaign in St. Louis and among Musial’s fans nationally and internationally has been pushing for this honor for nearly a year. Wednesday’s announcement, which preceded Musial’s 90th birthday by four days, is well-deserved.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is given “for especially meritorious contribution (in) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Past winners are a diverse group, ranging from Alan Greenspan to Bill Cosby, Muhammad Ali to Paul Harvey, Estee Lauder to Moe Berg, the major-league catcher who was also a spy.
He’ll join fellow baseball players Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Buck O’Neil, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams as Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.
My Facebook Friend
Patrick is one of my many Facebook friends whom I do not know. I’d love to know him, it’s just that our paths haven’t crossed. But I know him on Facebook and appreciate his friendship here. As always, I asked Patrick to tell us a little something about himself and then to tell us why he and I have developed this mad Facebook friendship. Here it is, in his words:
Patrick and his wife My name is Patrick Spencer, I am a 33 year old father of 5...YES 5... Wow you never really get used to reading that...5... 3 girls and 2 boys... My daughter is a freshman at Andale high school and I believe is an athletic specimen, hopefully everyone else will see that soon... You and I are friends on FB because you accepted my request... I asked you to be my friend honestly because every morning on my way to work I listen to Sports Daily, it actually helps me start my day, plus I can then come to work and impress folks with my sports knowledge... As far as myself goes, I am and endless story... Former athlete who had kids early, got married, got divorced, got remarried to a woman that is way hotter than me... I find it is always better to date women with bad eye sight... As for sports, I coach my sons 4th grade Andale team and have for 2 years... Before that I coached my daughter’s team from 3rd to 6th grade and I love it... I take a lot of pride in teaching the kids the fundamentals of basketball because I believe too many players today are horrible fundamentally... I also teach my teams that in sports and in life you have to go full speed and give it your all or it’s not worth doing... I do believe that sports and life go hand in hand. When you know how to fight to win in sports it will hopefully carry over to life... I am maybe a tad too competitive but I would never jeopardize a kid hating the game of basketball or breaking their confidence down just to get a win or get my point across... Enough about that I suppose...I'm a Celtics fan and have been since The Legend himself (Larry Bird) played, and I am a KC Royals fan ever since George Brett played...Chiefs as well, and I still wish we had Stephon Page... Jayhawks all the way.