Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is It Okay For Us To Like (Love) Michael Vick Yet?

Is It Okay for Us to Like (Love?) Michael Vick Yet?

The Philadelphia Eagles won this Sunday! And they won last Sunday, too! And no one can doubt it's because of Michael Vick! There's even talk about him being named Offensive Player of the Month!!!!

Should I be bothered by the fact I'm now cheering for a man who was convicted for animal cruelty?

As a diehard Philadelphia fan, I unabashedly, and emphatically, answer NO!

As an animal lover, and supporter of PETA, I timidly add . . . “I hope that’s okay.”

Oh gosh, I was so horrified in 2007 when I heard the news; Atlanta Falcons Quarterback, Michael Vick was implicated in a dog fighting ring. And then the news that he not only financed the “Bad Newz Kennels,” but he himself had killed dogs that under performed in the dogfights. I was outraged.

PETA – the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals – went crazy, and I went crazy right along with them. I love all animals, and have had pet dogs – including pitbulls -- most of my life. I sincerely believed that Vick needed to be ousted from the NFL and sent to prison. And he was.

In addition the Falcons made it clear that they wanted nothing more to do with Vick, and said they wanted back $20 million of the $37 million signing bonus they’d given him for his 2004 contract. He lost all of his endorsements, and he had to file for bankruptcy in July 2008 while still in prison. Hmph! I didn’t feel the slightest bit sorry for him.

But when he was released in from prison in 2009 – after serving 23 months at Leavenworth – animal rights activists were still up in arms, saying that NFL Commission Roger Goodell should ban Vick from the NFL for life, I was like . . . “What?”

Okay, as I said, I’m an animal lover, and truly believe that what Vick did was wrong, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that he should be made to suffer for the rest of his life for his indiscretion – as horrific as it might be.

The man admitted his guilt, served his time, and pledged to make substantial donations to animal rights organizations. After his release he voluntarily took a one-day PETA course, Developing Empathy for Animals, and also volunteered to do a public service announcement discussing how wrong it was to participate in dog fighting.

Don’t we send people to prison not only for punishment, but also for rehabilitation? And while it’s been shown that certain criminals – like rapists and pedophiles – have a high rate of recidivism, I’ve never seen a study that says the same for convicted dog fighters.

Yet, when the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a one-year $1.6 million contract in August 2009 – with an option of second year at $5 million – animal activists urged Eagles fans to boycott the games, and threatened to hold protest rallies outside the stadium.

For his part Michael Vick took every opportunity to publicly apologize for his behavior, saying in a 60 Minutes interview that he was sorry for what he’d done, and writing on his personal blog:
We must stop dog fighting, and I will do everything in my power to be a voice of someone who has finally woken up from the numbness, and knows just how bad it really is. My mission now is to be a source of service to save many animals.
I am working very closely with The Humane Society and will be launching a new campaign shortly. If I had one hope in life, it would be that my actions will speak louder than my words.

I myself believe him. I’ve forgiven him. And I’m certainly happy that he’s now the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and is 2-0 in the games he’s started.

And then the NFL season started!!!!!

Kevin Kolb got a concussion in the first game of the season and left the game with us losing 27-10 against Green Bay; Michael came in an got us 20 more points, but it was too little, too late . . . we lost the first game of the season. But what I saw of Vick, I really liked. I kinda started liking Vick.

The Vick started the next game against the Tigers, got the Eagles their first victory of the season. Yeah, I was really liking him.

Then Vick got us our second victory of the season, in a 23-3 romp of the Jacquars. He even ran the ball in for a touchdown himself. There's no doubt about it, I am officially a Michael Vick fan.

While I support and love PETA, I also support and love Michael Vick.

I just hope it’s okay to do both.

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