The Curious Case of Michael Vick

In Interesting on July 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm

This article was written by Lorenzo Chambers, an outstanding tail-back for Dartmouth College, a 2-time recipient of All-Ivy honors and a former member of Team Armani, an American-style football team in Milan, Italy.  Since retiring from professional play, Lorenzo received a NYC Teachers Fellowship to study education; he is currently the Principal at an elementary school, where he inspires young minds to dream beyond the limits society places on them.

In addition to being a fellow NFL enthusiast and Wednesday morning quarterback, Lorenzo is a college buddy and lifelong friend.


Today is Monday July 20, 2009. I am sitting in a sports bar watching ESPN Fan Nation when the hosts announced the end of Michael Vick’s criminal sentence. The topic discussed was “Should a team hire Michael Vick as their quarterback?”  Both hosts agreed that teams should not take a chance to hire him because he is a marketing nightmare and his ability to lead as a quarterback is questionable. In support of their second argument, they insisted his talent and skills are diminished and his judgment is questionable given his involvement in the dog-fighting scandal.  The following are my thoughts on the matter:

  • Didn’t he just finish serving the sentence for his participation in this crime? If so, it’s over!  I thought the point of a jail sentence was to punish him for his crime. It shouldn’t be a life sentence with no chance to work again. If that’s the case, he shouldn’t have served a jail sentence – just tell him he can never play professional football again.
  • Here’s a free consultation to Vick’s advisors. Regarding the PR/marketing nightmare that your client presents, do not attempt to spin the story. Michael Vick should do two things. First, he should go on a tour to every NFL team that will meet with him and own up to his responsibility. In a face to face meeting with owners, general managers and coaches, he should say that what he did was horrendous, he accepts full responsibility, he regrets it and that it will never happen again.  Next, he should explain why he did it. Where he is from in Virginia, people, especially his family members and friends are poor; they have had to resort to non-traditional sources of income and dog-fighting has been a viable means of earning a living for generations.  It is akin to cock-fighting in some South American countries. This doesn’t make it right but that is the truth.  Because he is wealthy, he felt responsible to provide a way for his friends and family to earn a living. In doing so, he made the wrong choice to not only subsidize their endeavor but to participate in it.  He should say that it will not happen again because the cost of what he did was too high a price to ever pay again in terms of how he has spent the last few months of his time on earth and because of the real possibility that he may never get to do what he loves to do, play football, ever again.  Also, he should say that he is now strong enough to say “No!” to friends and family members who do not have his best interest at heart. I am sure he has no doubt that real love doesn’t mean doing things that put you in jail. Secondly, he needs to go on a national television show, something like 60 Minutes and say the same things.
  • To the people who would condemn Michael Vick to a ban from the NFL for life, where is your compassion for your fellow man? Where is your self-reflection to be redeemed from your own demons?  And what about the hypocrisy that is part of the American way?  For example, why is it okay to hunt deer and bears and whatever other animals that people hunt but you can’t fight dogs?  An argument could be made that at least the dogs had a fighting chance versus the defenseless animals that get shot (for commentary | click here). The point is cruelty to animals should be prevented for all animals.  It can not be selective in nature. Don’t kill the whales, don’t shoot animals for sport, don’t fight dogs.

In the final analysis, the fans on ESPN’s Fan Nation voted 50-50 that teams should take a chance on Vick. I’ll take those odds any day and Michael Vick should get that chance as well.


I AgreeI Disagree | I’m Not Sure

  1. Michael Vick was wrong and should own up to his mistake. I don’t think he should try to explain why he did it because it really does not matter. He should certainly let the owners and the coaches know he thinks he has a lot of football playing ability left , he is free from his harmful associations and he is willing to lead and give 150% back to the the team that takes a chance with him. My sense is that they will be rewarded by the new Mike Vick . Michael Vick has lived a nightmare and unlike many sports idols of the past has an opportunity to salvage his career and demonstrate the levels of skill of which he is capable. Criminals as far ranging as Gordon Liddy and Michael Milken have been allowed to re-enter society and make a living with less fanfare for crimes arguably more harmful than those perpetrated by Mike Vick. I applaud their ability to remake their lives and rise from the ashes. That is the scheme of crime and punishment and the mark of the criminal conviction will forever be on his head. Does Michael Vick deserve any less an opportunity to rebuild his life?

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