As Michael Vick’s new life begins, hope remains. Yes, hope.

He’s not quite free and clear, but he’s out of prison. That’s a start. Michael Vick can begin to get on with the rest of his life, and we should wish him well. Because he’s not some demon. He’s a human being who made dire mistakes.

And he continues to pay for them. He’ll wear an ankle bracelet. He can’t go to a bar. He can’t vote. He’ll need to earn his way back into the good graces of Roger Goodell and the American public, and it won’t be easy. But there’s a story waiting to be written, a story as uplifting as these past two years have been deflating.

Michael Vick needs to talk to us, and soon. He needs to tell us he’s sorry and that his time behind bars has changed him, made him wiser, redoubled his determination not to mess up the rest of his life. He needs now to throw himself on the mercy of the American public and see how merciful it can be.

Because a lot of people would be willing to forgive him. (Not to forget, but to forgive.) I know. I’m among them. But he has to ask.

Understand: Vick wasn’t a victim of runaway justice. He admitted his crimes and has paid a price almost beyond measure. But his life isn’t over, and so long as life remains there’s the possibility of redemption. He’s 28. He has time. He can change our perception yet again.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

He deserves the chance to play football. PETA will protest, but PETA is famous for overplaying its hand. (Have Vick submit to a brain scan? Who’s writing this stuff – Joe McCarthy? Arthur C. Clarke?) If he finds an owner willing to absorb the backlash, he can make us remember why it was we came to notice Michael Vick. Contrary to revisionist history, he’s not a bad quarterback. Three Pro Bowls, as I recall.

He won’t be playing here, and that’s for the best. He needs a restart, and the Falcons have a different quarterback. But that doesn’t mean we can excise his name from team annals. Vick rekindled the flame when this franchise had gone cold. He made us care. That’s why it hurt so deeply to see him fail.

And it wasn’t Vick the player who failed. It was Vick the person, Vick the stealth dogfighter, the Vick nobody around here saw. (You say you knew he was a bad guy all along? On what evidence? The water bottle? Please.) His failure loosed a deluge of racial back-and-forth that missed the point, for this was never about a demographic profile. This was about one man and his misdeeds, one man who owned a city but went to jail.

And now he’s out. And now he can move forward, and so can we. Amid all the motion, here’s a hope that he gets it right from now on, so right that in five years we’ll see Michael Vick not as a fallen idol but as an indomitable soul who triumphed over abject disgrace.

Yes, he did wrong. But after all that has transpired, Michael Dwayne Vick has it within him to do right. I’ve been disappointed in him, but I’m not yet ready to give up. Not on this one. There’s a heart in there somewhere, a good heart. I believed as much on that sorrowful day he entered his plea, and I believe it still.

423 comments Add your comment

Aerosmith Medley

May 20th, 2009
8:52 am

what a bunch of crap.

Scott

May 20th, 2009
8:54 am

But somehow he will screw things up again. I also wouldn’t hold your breath for any sincere apology. This will be more about, how do I get back in the game and a new contract!

Florida Falcon

May 20th, 2009
8:55 am

No doubt, the one who feels the most for his actions is Vick, I sincerely wish him the best (for all that’s worth). If Mr. Vick is reading this, all I can say is get rid of the negative people around you that are bringing you down. That can be said for all of US! Go Falcons!

Knuckle Sandwich

May 20th, 2009
9:00 am

Bradley, he doesn’t need to say a dadgum thing, because he has already proven that he is a pathological liar. If he wants to gain the respect of the public, he needs to let his actions speak for themselves, over a number of years. Personally, I think once a piece of trash, always a piece of trash. I don’t expect much to change with Vick.

Morris

May 20th, 2009
9:01 am

I want to read all the crittical comments about Vick.But only from those that does’nt have anything in their past or present that they need forgiveness for.

mike

May 20th, 2009
9:01 am

Good luck to MV7….he brought us many good memories here and I wish him the best. Anyone who wishes him otherwise is just foolish. Go Falcons.

OleSchool

May 20th, 2009
9:02 am

Well written piece, let’s hope the redemption of Michael Vick is far greater than the fall of Michael Vick

BJohnDawg

May 20th, 2009
9:04 am

My dog is a valued member of our family.He is like a child to us. He is a companion to my family and our daughter.

What Michael Vick did was wrong. There is no doubt about it. But his sentence was jail time. He did that time. As long as he honors his probation commitments; it is time to let him get on with his life.

His sentence did not read ” And you shall be hounded by PETA forever and never be allowed to make a living in your career of choice.”

Time to let the man get on with his future with his family, his children. Hoping he has learned from this mistake(s).

He is not the first person to disgrace this city, yet this city has moved on. He is not the first falcon to disgrace his team, yet the falcons have moved on. He has disgraced himself, and been humbled. And paid dearly with his fame, fortune, and possibly his future. But he has paid. Now let the man move on.

Vick Fan

May 20th, 2009
9:04 am

I agree, he made a big mistake, he has paid for that mistake, it’s time to move on and allow him the opportunity to rebuild his life. Michael, I wish you well and continue to pray for you. Keep your head up and know that we still care about you the person as well as the player.

allenlaw

May 20th, 2009
9:04 am

It would be nice if people would, in fact, stop projecting their troubles onto this still-young man. He is not a sign of “all that is wrong in our society” or a “victim of racial injustice,” he is a very talented person who indulged in a sport our culture rejects and views as barbaric. (On the other hand, we admire bullfighters and rodeo riders and hunters and fishermen, whose sports also injure animals).

He paid his price, so let him play if he is good enough to play.

As for apologies, he does not owe me any apology.

Sunny

May 20th, 2009
9:05 am

Funny…the same paper that worked so hard to throw this man on the bus now says “…he’s not some demon. He’s a human being who made dire mistakes.” Couldn’t tell by reading your paper for the past two years. The AJC was the ring leader in the circus! You were the ones who demonized him in the first place. Mick Vick has served his time. Let him go home and rebuild his life and reconnect with this family. Stop the media circus already, please.

Steve

May 20th, 2009
9:05 am

Excellent column Mr. Bradley. Vick is still a young man who is very capable of redeeming himself. I have faith that he will do just that, despite those who wish that he continues to fall.

Gapeach

May 20th, 2009
9:05 am

I wish Michael Vick all the luck in the world. He doesn’t owe me an apology. We are way to judgemental. He needs to ask God for forgiveness, not us. I really don’t feel he should have went to prison that long. He probably shouldn’t have went at all. PETA is played out and they are also way to judgemental. People will wish the worst for someone, but God always has the last say. Keep your head up Michael and may God bless you.

Sea Kayaker

May 20th, 2009
9:06 am

I am sorry but Vick isn’t guilty of tax evasion or cheating on his wife… He is guilty of large scale cruelty to animals for “fun and profit.” In my book, cruelty to animals is right up there with child abuse. You don’t have to be a member of some squirrely organization like PETA to be totally disgusted by Vick and his cronies. To say I will be very disappointed with the NFL if they accept him back under any circumstances would be serious understatement.

terry herrod

May 20th, 2009
9:07 am

Mr. Bradley,

Thank you for writing such a compassionate column. It appears that your cohort Ms. Schultz wants nothing more than to see Michael Vick tared and feathered. In any event, the key to Vick’s success are threefold. First, he will need to live a disciplined and regimented life. He will no longer be given the benefit of the doubt. Faith, famliy and football need to be his priority. Second, he will need to limit the number of people he allows in his life. Outside of his immediate family (wife, children, mother, sister & bother and teamates) he should keep people at a distance. Lastly, he need to show a passion and committment to the game of football. If Vick plays at a high-level, all of his problems (legal, financial & PR) will be resovled and forgotten. I disagree about the apologizes. The people who HATE Vick will never be satisfied with an apology, they are out for blood.

Boots

May 20th, 2009
9:10 am

He’ll do well in Oakland.

GOTech610

May 20th, 2009
9:10 am

It has been 2 years and we don’t have an apology, that tells me what kind of a man he is, or boy.

I am glad he’s gone. Never was going to get us to the Super Bowl. Everyone says how great he was…He was good for sure, but he was a one man team, as we all saw when he got taken out of the equation. It takes a real team to win championships.

I am tired of hearing about Michael Vick. I hope he does well for himself and I wish him the best, but please…he’s NOT an Atlanta Falcon. Come on AJC bury the hatchet that is Michael Vick.

Rock Preston

May 20th, 2009
9:11 am

Scott, dont presume he will mess up. Stop hoping that he fails! Realistically, what satisfaction do you get out hoping that he falls again? Dont judge the man! We have judged his actions and he has been punished, so LET IT GO!! Haters!

Scott Case

May 20th, 2009
9:12 am

Man, easiest column ever. Write something about Vick to stir the pot a little, and watch the comments and page views fly in.

(Oh, and the worst thing to happen to Mike Vick was Gregg Knapp)

terrell

May 20th, 2009
9:14 am

Mike Vick doesnot owe the American Public anything. Why wasn’t there any outrage or protests when Leonard Little and Danny Heatly were driving drunk and killed innocent HUMANS? There were no MADD, or SADD protests, no posters or signs of love ones who were killed by drunk drivers. Why is there no public outcry when countless athletes physically abuse their spouses, no domestic violence protests, nothing. But kill some damn dogs, that’s death by crucifixing. Lazy stay-at-home moms puting “I HATE VICK” shirts on their toddlers, and everyone who has sex with dogs instead of “HUMANS” wants him to apologize and make a public spectacle of himself, I don’t think so.

breff

May 20th, 2009
9:14 am

It is proven time and time again….anyone having the capability of harming animals and children…defenseless beings…..are not able to be rehabilitated..my hope is never to have to see his despicable face again…he should live in shame for the rest of his life…..not with flashy cars and houses that he does not deserve for simply being able to throw a damn football. BAN VICK

Nowwhat

May 20th, 2009
9:15 am

Yes, Michael Vick made a terrible mistake, but he has done his time and people need to stop hating on him. He without sin, please let him cast the first stone. No one is perfect and no this is not to justify his actions, but you may not have been charged for dog fighting, but what about all the other wrong things you have done you just didn’t get caught or charged with by the laws of the land. Everyone has a past and somewhere along the line we all have fallen short, so please stop the madness. Wrong is wrong, the is no big or little wrong….. WRONG is WRONG. It just happen to be that he was a public figure who fell short. He is not the first, nor will he be the last. People are so unforgiving until trouble hits their own life then the ballgame suddenly changes. So, please give Michael a chance to redeem himself.

Mark Bradley

May 20th, 2009
9:16 am

Vick doesn’t have to apologize to anybody, not by law. But Roger Goodell might think otherwise, and he’s a fairly important figure in Vick’s future.

Gatorzone

May 20th, 2009
9:17 am

Good luck to Mike Vick. He has served his time, is totally bankrupt and deserves a second chance. I really think he will have been humbled by this and will be a model citizen. He should be reinstated. I would not mind him coming back to the Falcons as a WR. However, I know that will not happen. Reinstate him, then in the late summer trade him for better than a 4th round pick. If he goes on to live by the straight and narrow this is a feel good story. If he goes on to act like an idiot, then we have another Chris Henry, Pacman, etc. No big deal. One strike and he is out.
I hope for the best for the guy.

GO FALCONS!!!

BugKiller

May 20th, 2009
9:17 am

Mark, how about the fact that he KNOWINGLY gave a woman HERPES!?!?

How about the photo with him and drug paraphanalia in the back of a limo?

How about the water bottle… which he LIED, LIED, LIED about? Then claimed the Miami Police, who’re doing EVERYTHING to let him off the hook, was FRAMING him???

And then how about the dispicable dog fighting? And his out-right refusal to tell the truth?

And then how about instead of actually showing some understanding of remorse or his position during his ridiculous bankrupcy hearing, Vick AGAIN proves he doesn’t get it by asking to keep all of his houses and most of his cars (HOUSES, not HOUSE) instead of selling them to pay down his debts???

Vick isn’t sorry for fighting, torturing, and killing dogs in a way that would make the Viet Cong blanche.

HE’S SORRY HE GOT CAUGHT!!!

And you, like Peter King, are just another bleeding-heart, soft-headed member of ObamaNation.

He has no RIGHT to play football. He has a right to seek work, but I hope the Commish suspends him for a year, and then after that year, I hope not even Jerry Jones would sign him.

Let him find work with other felons in construction or the fast food industry.

The last thing the NFL needs is this guy playing football. Let him go play in the UFL, and then fail with that league.

GOTech610

May 20th, 2009
9:17 am

Terrell….we don’t want an apology for dog fighting…well at least not some of us. He lied to us man. It’s deeper than the surface you are ranting about. He let the whole entire city down for lieing, not fighting. He looked at everyone to do with his career and lied to them face to face, and he did us. He disgraced us. He flipped us off. He lied to us. That’s where the apology is warranted.

Mac

May 20th, 2009
9:18 am

Hope he comes back and shows true, positive change. At the end, Vick proved he was an unbridled knucklehead. It’s really hard for any NFL player to function when their personal behavior is out of control (see Pacman Jones). It is nigh impossible for a starting quarterback.

Mark Bradley

May 20th, 2009
9:18 am

And this seemed a pot-stirring column … well, I’m only sorry I was unable to make my point.

Former Falcons fan

May 20th, 2009
9:19 am

It is so strange how the public judge this human being so harsh. I have said from day one, the public act as though Vick was a mass murderer. Those were dogs! Not humans! I know there are a lot of animal lovers who treat dogs with more respect than humans, and that is there sad choice. I pray that Vick supersede in whatever he does and all those that wish ill feelings for him, spend some time praying for yourself and ask God to cover your wounds and keep the skeletons hidden in your closet.

Gatorzone

May 20th, 2009
9:21 am

NOWWHAT, I AGREE TOTALLY! NO ONE IS SIN FREE, WE ALL HAVE SKELETONS.

Vick Supporter

May 20th, 2009
9:21 am

Knuckle Sandwich I really wish you could eat one. I guess all the naysayers and critical ones are the ones that sit on the right side of GOD. Its one thing I have learned in life ” the haters are what push us into our destiny”. So for all you Vick haters keep hating!!! Truly he only need one approval and thats the approval of GOD. I wish he the best and I look forward to his re-entry back to the NFL.

Marcus

May 20th, 2009
9:23 am

That is probably the most empathetic, compassionate blog to date on the subject. I agree with GA Peach’s 1st sentence in that God will be the ultimate judge. His forgiveness (not ours) is all that Vick needs. Asking us for our forgivenss make us feel better about the situation, but it isn’t mandatory. WE have to be careful not to fall into pride in feeling Vick needs to apologize to us in order for us to restore forgiveness (as if we have the ultimate power to do so). I just hope that for the people involved who have the sway to shape and control his future life (NFL, judges, local police) and influence opinion (media) don’t turn this into some power trip opprtunity to exercise excessively punitive and prejudicial behaviours towards him “just because they can”.
Mr. Bradley, I give you props for being person enough not to want to excoriate him ad infinitum from a bully pulpit (like many media bandwagoneers, and sensationalist personalites on radio and tv) for the crime and sin he committed.

T-Bone

May 20th, 2009
9:24 am

Question: Who’s the most exciting player the Falcons have ever had? Vick. Question: Do you really want to play against this guy and have him possibly beat you? No. Solution: Keep him!! He’s paid his debt to society. He still owes the Falcons some money. Sign him and let him work it off (but not as a starting QB). He is better than our other choices at back-up QB. Or better yet, put him as a receiver/H-back. His productivity dropped as his decision-making got worse. Well, take that aspect of the game away from him. Let him use his speed at a position where he could still be a threat to throw. Mike Smith could borrow a few plays from Paul Johnson’s playbook!

Besides, what better PR story of redemption could their be than for Vick to come back in humilty, not attract attention to himself, do his job, playing for his old team?

This sounds like a win-winto me. Besides, we won’t get anything for him in a trade, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever get from him any of the money he owes us.

Let’s keep Michael Vick!

HawkDawg

May 20th, 2009
9:25 am

Why should he have to apologize to Roger Goodell? He lied because he was trying to covering his aS@. Goodell needs to get over himself. Vick has paid his dues. Now the Falcons need to get him out of he NFC.

Geezguys

May 20th, 2009
9:26 am

This is the dummy who smoked pot while awaiting sentencing. Hope all you want, but as they say, you can’t fix stupid. You also can’t fix amoral and self-centered. Jails are made for people like Michael Vick.

jimthorpe

May 20th, 2009
9:30 am

He’s paid his dues. Let him live. He’s not the first person to get money, and fame, then not handle it well. And, yes, I bet he can still play. He just needs a steady hand to help guide him.

hop

May 20th, 2009
9:30 am

mr.vick deserves a second chance which the nfl will give him.

i hope he has learned from his mistakes which were many and he will direct his efforts to helping other people especially the youth who looked up to him.

he says he is now a man of faith which i hope he is and if he has moved in that direction, it will be seen by all!

B-Reel

May 20th, 2009
9:32 am

Yes Hope! MV paid the price for a terrible crime, so I hope he uses his tarnished platform to shine a light on how the fallen can get back up even stronger. Momma always said that some folks hate to see anyone successful; even their own family. Here’s hope that you all get help.

Turtsnap

May 20th, 2009
9:34 am

Mark, very nice piece. I hope to see MV7 back in the league sometime soon albeit anywhere other than Atlanta. An earlier blogger hit it on the head, those that are critical and unforgiving need to look in the mirror, as we all have fallen short in life at one time or another!

Good luck MV7!!

Flyin' Falcon

May 20th, 2009
9:34 am

I hope Michael Vick suffers the same fate as the dogs he killed. And I hope it happens sooner rather than later. He’s nothing more than an a-hole, loser, scum bag, pile of garbage. He will not change, he will only say what he thinks needs to be said to get back into the NFL.

DLANE

May 20th, 2009
9:35 am

Mike you have done your time. Do your probation, and you will be even with the house.I am sure that you have reflected on this. And played it back and forth in your head a thousand times. Do whatever you have to do to appease Massa Goddell and go on with your life. Godspeed!

PMC

May 20th, 2009
9:37 am

He didn’t make mistakes… he made bad choices and decisions… but I do wish him the best. I do hope he makes it back in the NFL and is successful. I do hope he does well for himself and his family for the rest of his life. I hope he has learned from the past several years.

Nowwhat

May 20th, 2009
9:37 am

Enter your comments here

PMC

May 20th, 2009
9:41 am

I think the “backlash” is overstated. People care about this yes… but he paid dearly for his poor decisions and actions. Anyone protesting now… needs to get a freaking life.

Love me so Vick#7

May 20th, 2009
9:43 am

Mike you have paid and man I mean you paid out of the *&^%$(*&^ no other player in the history of the USA has paid more than vick. Yes I am waiting to see what team he will be on .I hope It is the 49ER’s.
They have the head coach he needs. I know you will be great if he does not get hurt.
A lot of Fans and I mean a lot of fans here is Atlanta wish you well and the best. You made Falcon football the thing to see.
I wish Matt Ryan the best but he can not do the thing in Football vick did .1039 yards rushing 2 TD rushing and 20 TD Passing no other QB in the History of the game has done that and that in one season and as a fact in the history books. I will buy your new number and he will put people in the seats. Vick you are the reason a lot of us came to buy season tickets here in Atlanta. I will get the NFL package to watch you and when you do come to play in Atlanta bank on it I and manny other will come to see you. A focus Vick is a dangerous thing for a defense man and man we miss you!!!

preston

May 20th, 2009
9:43 am

Ummmm……. didnt Micheal Vick make a very public and sincere apology right before his sentencing? How many times does he needs to apologize to make you people happy? And with the way that a lot of people feel about Mike Vick, he could become the next St. Francis of Assisi, and that still would not appease some of you people. Micheal Vick screwed up big time with his involvement in dogfighting….he went thru the humiliation, embarrassment, and the lost of a very lucrative lifestyle for something that he surely regrets. He had his share of haters even before this scandal broke, and regardless of what he does with his life from here on out, there will be those who will always dislike him. I personally think that he has a great opportunity before him, and I hope that he makes the most out of it, regardless of whether or not it involves playing football again, but he doesnt owe me, you, or anybody anything…..he paid his debt to society for what he has done……so PETA, and everybody else, please move on.

ERIC

May 20th, 2009
9:45 am

I THINK IT’S A SHAME HE HAD TO DO ANY TIME AT ALL!!! ONE THING I LEARNED FROM THIS VICK SITUATION, IS THAT MORE AMERICANS VALUE A DOGS LIFE OVER THAT OF A HUMAN. GOD BLESS MICHAEL VICK.

Kitchen Sink

May 20th, 2009
9:47 am

I’m sorry but I can’t help believe that if he could go back to that same lifestyle he had before he got caught, he would. I have never seen from him any real show of being truly sorry for the life he was living. Have you?

Leon

May 20th, 2009
9:49 am

Mr. Bradley this was a very good piece written by you. People should look at the situation and move on, and give Mike a chance to redeem himself. The very people who are critical of him and are ready to condemn Mike for his actions either have done things that they hope never get out, or knows someone that has committed a similar act.I bet your support and love is still strong for that person.Only God is the real judge for Mike. He will have to work that out with him. Remember people he, is only a football player. Stop holding these people to such high esteem. They are not perfect, nor will they ever be. Mistakes will be made. You fans that have turned on MV must admit that he put The Atlanta Falcons back on the map and made them relevent. This is really not about football. This is about a young man getting his life back in order, an attempting to make a living for his family in his chosen field. My hopes are that he can come back and make a bad story in to a good story. Then i hope that you haters can look at that story and share it with someone on how you can change your life and rebound from such a mistake. MV when they let you lace them up again, just move the crowd. In the immortal words of the great poet Jay Z, ” first they love you , then they hate you, then they love you again”. What’s up ATL. Holla back

Greg

May 20th, 2009
9:53 am

It is astonishing to me, and very saddening, to read some of the hot, negative remarks here about Michael Vick. I cannot help but think there is a, possibly unaware of itself, racist element in these comments. I personally don’t care much about Vick one way or the other, but to see the ire that he raises in some people is frankly pretty scary.