There are no “do-overs” in sports, but in life there are

Today’s guest post is by Lunchboy, a former Peppercommer and lifetime Eagles fan. 

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.”
-    Edward R. Murrow

M6a00d8342adfcf53ef01156f891b32970c-800wiichael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants on Sunday Night on NBC’s “Football Night in America.”  In doing so, the national discussion that is Vick continued to gain yardage in our collective water cooler chat. At last look, Google had more than 3.4 million listings for the Philly QB while Eli Manning had an average 1.5 million (see, he is just average). The Eagles also took control of the NFC East, but more on that later. 

Back in April 2007 you and I learned that Vick was implicated in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring that he bankrolled, operated on his property and took part in on fight days. The losing dogs were likely starved, raped, electrocuted, drowned or killed. I’m sure some went through it all.  Heinous crimes that you’d expect to see portrayed during parts of NBC’s “Law & Order,” not in real life by an NFL star who had a $130 million contract in his wallet.

He lost it all.  The contract with the Atlanta Falcons, numerous endorsement deals, homes, cars, etc. Everything. 

Playing defense, likely for the first time, he dealt with the court of law and public opinion, and ultimately his Leavenworth guards. For 19 months (of a 23 month sentence), he was living in an 8×10 cell.  When he was released in May of 2009 his debt to society had been paid, but he was some $20 million in debt to the Falcons, the IRS, some banks and anyone who had an opinion about what landed him in the pen. 

Except for the Eagles, every NFL team took a pass on Vick as he tried to regain employment in the industry he had once worked.  Granted, a Fortune 500 company wouldn’t ever hire a felon convicted of an accounting scandal or insider trading to its corporate finance team, but Vick never cheated his employer per se.  He only cheated off of the field during practice (by not going), film study (by sleeping), his nightlife activities (by going and not sleeping),  and ending the lives of dogs “employed” by Bad Newz Kennels.
Fast forward about 18 months and the man is again atop headlines.   Philadelphia, after trading Donovan McNabb away and welcoming in the Kevin Kolb era, is now starting Michael Vick thanks to injuries to Kolb’s head and psyche. Since becoming an NFL quarterback again, Vick has become a student of the game, a practice and weight room regular, a film study junkie.  There is now talk about the team being positioned to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. 

And, again, my city is divided -not over who makes the best cheesesteak- but whether or not Michael Vick deserves their support as he leads our beloved Eagles.  

Ultimately, we all have our own decision to make on this one. You could argue that he deserves the punishment that he inflicted on those poor dogs, or you could argue that our judicial system and due process ran its course and he deserves a second chance.  You could contend that there is good in his various appearances at schools when he speaks with children and young adults about dog fighting and how evil the culture is.  He’s Ron Mexico!  You could recall the gun shooting outside his 30th birthday party this past summer minutes after he left the club. Weeks ago he was captured hugging a coach in pure jubilation following a win against Eli’s brother Peyton. He scored six TDs against the Redskins!  I could go on and on…

Personally, I think Vick will always be guilty of his crimes, even as a free man.  Even without his prison jumpsuit on, he will always be looked at as a felon.  His children, his wife, every player on his team and those he faces, every coach, teacher, fan, grocery bagger, cabbie and waiter will always remember and think about what he did.  He’ll carry that as a life sentence with no chance for parole or peace of mind for a long, long time.   Honestly, that’s enough for me.   

Should he behave and continue to call all the right plays, there’s a new contract that will end his financial worries and there might even be future employment options with the NFL (an athlete/parolee ambassador?),  the US Department of Corrections (a living case study on rehabilitation?) or with the Humane Society (as an animal rights activist?). 

Before all of that happens, though, the Eagles play the Chicago Bears on Sunday.  And I’m rooting for Vick and the Eagles to win. 

21 thoughts on “There are no “do-overs” in sports, but in life there are

  1. I agree with you Rep. And, the PR nightmare was far worse when they signed him v. now. I’ll admit, winning (like a positive earnings season) makes a bad business move look better.
    My final thoughts on the matter: he’ll meet his maker one day and at that time all of his wrongs will have him wish he called an audible or two during his youth.

  2. Excellent points as always, Ghost. But, I’ll bet the owners of the Minnesota Vikings and a few other losing franchises are thinking twice about turning down the dog murderer.

  3. The point here is that we let these bad boys back into the spotlight because of their prowess on the field. If Ben, Vick and Stallworth were teachers, they wouldn’t be allowed to return to their professions after committing their crimes. The idea that Vick is a free man today doesn’t exonerate him — it merely suggests that he no longer poses a threat to society. Dare I say the other NFL teams that passed on him showed proper judgment in that his success is now proving to be a PR nightmare for his employer.

  4. The point here is that we let these bad boys back into the spotlight because of their prowess on the field. If Ben, Vick and Stallworth were teachers, they wouldn’t be allowed to return to their professions after committing their crimes. The idea that Vick is a free man today doesn’t exonerate him — it merely suggests that he no longer poses a threat to society. Dare I say the other NFL teams that passed on him showed proper judgment in that his success is now proving to be a PR nightmare for his employer.

  5. Bubbles, you are right. You cannot un-do those things. and they are HORRIFIC too.
    BUT, if you make those mistakes and serve the time that a court of law decides is fit for each crime you should be able to have a semblance of a life afterwards.
    If you are not okay with that, I suggest you complain to state and federal leaders and law makers who decide these things with your voice and your vote(s).

  6. Thanks Beth. You raise some excellent points, especially when it comes to other players and their misdeeds and behavior. Donte Stallworth killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence. He served 30 days in jail and is still in the NFL. Ray Lewis is accused of murder (by stabbing someone) but got off and never missed a game. You mentioned Big Ben and his advances toward multiple, drunk women.
    These guys are in the league still, gainfully employed and the laws they broke or the accusations against them could be considered worse than animal abuse, depending on the audience.

  7. Lunch, you’re also wrong about “do-overs” in life. You cannot un-ring a bell, un-rape a woman or bring a dead dog back to life.

  8. It’s an interesting conundrum we Philadelphians face. Being from Philly is part of your identity, and you’ve been an Eagles fan your whole life. Is it possible to support the team, and its other players who likely had no say in the decision to bring Vick on board, without supporting the quarterback, in fact wishing for a crushing blitz with each snap?
    Last year, I decided my time as an Eagles fan was over. I would not – could not- support a team that would bring such a disgusting individual into its ranks. It’s tough though – when a game comes on, rooting for the Eagles is just ingrained in me.
    But that is my own personal stance, and I cannot necessarily fault others who don’t join me. After all, the NFL is populated by criminals whose behavior is tolerated because they have talent. Is torturing dogs so much worse than, oh, let’s say murder, or assaulting women or soliciting sex from minors. I think not, but for some reason Vick seems to be the one who has incurred the most hatred. Is supporting Vick and giving him another chance really any worse than supporting the players behind these other heinous crimes? Personally, I’d like to see the NFL take a tougher stance on crimes from players, but until that time, Vick is just one of many who have gotten off all to easy and likely shouldn’t be singled out.

  9. Mick and Rooney…feel free to lunch on Vick at any chance you get. I wouldn’t get in the way…but I still thinks he deserve the chance at a job and to earn a living.
    I don’t want to veer too far off course, but every year the global leather industry kills millions, if not billions of animals for their skin and fur. PETA tells us that these animals suffer horrors in factories as they are farmed “including extreme crowding and confinement, deprivation, and unanesthetized castration, branding, tail-docking, and dehorning—as well as cruel treatment during transport and slaughter.”
    Which of does not own a leather briefcase? Wallet? Shoes? Belt? Purse? Mandals? A collar?
    Also, which of us has never eaten lamb? Turkey? Bacon? Foie gras? A steak?
    Isn’t all of this animal cruelty – if not for sport, but for profit and sustenance – that we all ignore?

  10. Tell you what, Lunch. Give my brother, Rooney, and me one hour with Vick. After those 60 minutes, we’ll be satisfied justice has been served.

  11. Again, I agree that he did many wrongs, but he also paid for them as far as our justice system is concerned. The courts found him guilty, he served his time and now he is free to advance his life once more, no?

  12. Lunch: Vick took pleasure in torturing animals. If he had done so with your daughter would you still be cheering him on? And don’t tell me it’s apples to oranges. There is a direct correlation between those who abuse animals and serial killers, murderers, rapists, et al. Vick is less human than the animals he killed. Where do I prefer his earning potential to stay? In the freakin’ gutter where he belongs.

  13. I understand that he has much to live up to on the decency argument and making amends (I agree with you there, Mick), but I don’t understand why he doesn’t deserve the right to work at his craft again? When he first exited prison, he was working a $10/hour construction job. Was that job and income acceptable? Is that where you would prefer his earning potential to stay? If so, why?

  14. Wrong, Lunch. If he were a decent human being, he’d try to make amends by dedicating his life to performing community service and helping rescue dogs find owners (note: I’m a rescue dog and a pit bull, so I know of what I speak/bark). Vick has NO right whatsoever to earn millions of dollars playing football. Shame on the Eagles and you Eagles fans. BTW, just wanted to reiterate that I’m not speaking of the avian variety. I admire eagles. Those dudes are majestic as hell.

  15. Mick, I’m sorry that you feel this way, and given that you live in this country and abide by its laws and your master’s (and your veterinarian’s) you’re allowed to have and bark your opinion. Remember, this country and its judicial system found him guilty of a crime and he has paid for it. You don’t have to like him, you’re not expected to, but he does deserve to have a semblance of a life back after he has paid his debts. Right?

  16. I totally agree with you, Bubbles. Vick is to pit bulls what Pol Pot was to Cambodians. Good thing you’re in Philadelphia, Lunchboy, or I’d be lunching on your calf muscle as we speak.

  17. That’s certainly not true, Bubbles. I still hold him accountable for what he did, didn’t you catch that part? He is not free in every sense of the word.
    And, I think comparing Vick to either of those is like comparing apples and oranges.