Michael Vick can’t even go broke properly. A court in Newport News, Va., rejected his financial reorganization plan Friday for being unworkable. Looking beyond dollars and cents, ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, who was in the courtroom, wrote of Judge Frank Santoro: “It was clear he was not impressed with Vick’s story of true remorse.”
The rest of Vick’s vocational life will hinge on his ability to convince a skeptical audience he’s really and truly sorry. To date, the erstwhile No. 7 is 0-for-1. Munson again: “He will have to show more sincerity and veracity when he speaks to [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell.”
Goodell has said contrition — meaning remorse for doing wrong, not just for getting caught — will be the key to Vick’s reinstatement to the only league that matters. But the downward spiral of what was once a charmed young life remains awhirl: The same Vick who failed a drug test after pleading guilty just admitted in court to borrowing $150,000 from a pension fund illegally. Is anybody advising him? Is he really sorry for anything?
We on the periphery can’t know. Vick hasn’t addressed the public since Aug. 27, 2007, the day he entered his plea. That seemed a bright start on the rutted road to redemption, but there has since been nothing beyond a roaring silence.
On the stand Friday, Vick said he’d “committed a heinous act,” but “heinous” is a tin-sounding word. Seeking another take, a guy asked Arthur Blank: Does he believe Vick feels “true remorse”?
“I actually planned on seeing him [in prison] twice, but for various reasons it didn’t work out,” Blank said Monday. “I do plan on seeing him when he’s released. The letters I’ve gotten from him have been sincere, and they do show a fair degree of emotion. But at the end of the day it’s not what you say — it’s what you do.”
Blank wants to see Vick back in the NFL — just not with his Falcons. “My own judgment is that, if people feel he has learned and he has definitely paid his debt to society, a man should have an opportunity to work.”Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Will Goodell feel the same? Blank: “I think Roger will look at it like, ‘Let’s see how you act. Let’s see who you spend time with and how you live your life.’ ”
The thought persists that Vick has wasted more than a year of enforced downtime by saying nothing. That might have been the best legal strategy, but PR-wise it was a mistake. We needed to hear from him, whether in the form of a jailhouse interview with “60 Minutes” or a written mea culpa. We needed to hear him say he’d changed as he was changing, not after he’s released to home confinement in his five-bedroom abode.
Someone should have been doing the groundwork for Vick’s return to society and to football, but his pricey lawyers and agents and advisers have availed him little. He’d had a long time to prepare for his first appearance before Judge Santoro, and apparently he whiffed.
Vick cannot afford any more whiffs. When next he says he’s sorry, he must make us believe.