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Michael Vick: Does Success Equal Forgiveness?

Does Michael Vick deserve his return to public favor? Does Michael Vick deserve his return to public favor?

Convicted felon Michael Vick has not only found his way back to the NFL, but has resumed his position as one of the league’s top quarterbacks. But just a few years ago, Vick was one of the most detested celebrities in North America due to his role in a dog fighting ring. Now, all anyone seems to talk about is his amazing play on the field. Have we forgotten the quality of the man’s character? Or do we just not care?

Vick found a role as starting quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles this year after serving as Donovan McNabb’s back-up in 2009. That’s an amazing feat given that Vick didn’t play professional sports at all in 2007 and 2008. He was serving 21 months in prison at that time.

What has changed in the public perception since 2007? Maybe not much. Maybe it’s just that people have calmed down, and allowed Vick some grace now that he’s paid his debt to society. In fact, the general consensus among sports fans is that Vick did his time and now deserves a second shot.

But in my perfect world, no NFL owner would be willing to have a player of such shabby moral character on his team.

For those who don’t know, dog fighting isn’t just the pitting of two dogs against each other. Vick is also responsible for the death by hanging and electrocution of several dogs who weren’t aggressive enough to be successful fighters. For any of us who have grown attached to a mild-mannered family dog, the thought of punishing that creature for its sweet disposition is nauseating.

But it hardly ends there. Besides the deaths that arise from fights themselves, there are also “bait” animals used in training. These are often cats and dogs acquired from animal shelters or “free to good home” ads. In some cases, family pets are stolen. Bait animals have their mouths clamped shut so that they can’t hurt prospective fighting dogs. They must be mauled to death – captive, helpess, afraid, and suffering.

And this is the stuff Vick did for fun! He was a wealthy man at the time of his involvement with dog fighting. It’s baffling that anyone can root for this guy. Or even root against him. He should have been kept from the game altogether. But then again, sports, like so much of North American culture is about the bottom line. And it doesn’t matter what Vick does off the field, if he can help a team win and someone can find a way to justify it, Vick will have a place to play.

The abhorrently ignorant responses of certain other athletes in support of Vick, even amidst the furor of 2007, foreshadowed the dismal future of this case. Clinton Portis, Roy Jones Jr., and Stephon Marbury were among the most egregious offenders when it came to sounding heartless and stupid. And nobody batted an eye at them. We need more athletes like UFC's Tito Ortiz speaking out against cruelty, as well as other celebrities like hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

So here we are, in 2010, and dog killer Michael Vick is back in the spotlight, keeping his nose clean, and doing everything right. Apparently that’s all it takes to win redemption. But for those of us who place importance on things like integrity, animal welfare, and generally not being a scumbag, the punishment did not fit the crime. It will always be a shame to see Vick enjoying any level of success in the public eye.

 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 11:18

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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