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.