Michael Vick has been released from prison after serving nineteen months and has returned to his home and family, where he will spend two more months under house arrest. Oh, yeah, and he has to work a ten dollar an hour job. Somehow, this is supposed to make him see the light?
There is a great deal of controversy over whether he should be allowed back into the NFL, where, no one can deny, he played superbly. I have heard some pretty impassioned arguments both for and against his return to the NFL, but I have refrained from voicing my opinion. SO far! While I agree that he served his time, I can not agree that the debt to society has been paid by incarceration in prison, People who commit extraordinarily violent, cruel crimes don’t repay society by passing time in a jail cell. His time in prison does not restore the lives of dogs who were brutally torn apart, ripped to pieces, and made to behave in a way that is absolutely antithetical to their natures. The ones who lost were—well, murdered.
There is a verse in Matthew: Jesus says what you do for the least of my brethren you do for me. This could also be interpreted as what you do TO the least, you do TO me. I really equate animals with humans, except on the whole, I think animals are nicer. The deaths Vick meted out to his underperforming “killers” were not easy, humane deaths, an injection or even a clean gun shot. Vick and his crew tortured and killed in the most barbaric ways. People have commented that if he shows remorse, he should be allowed to play again, making millions of dollars.
How can he suddenly be remorseful? This was not a one-time affair that he saw as the horrific, despicable act it is. He didn’t raise these dogs to be vicious and take them to fights and bring them home, hurt and bleeding and near death—or blooded from victory over another helpless animal without awareness of what he was doing. He continued until he was caught, and as is true with probably most hardened criminals, he was suddenly sorry when he was caught and lost his endorsements and the trappings of fame and fortune.
Football lost a fine talent, for sure. But he was lost the first time he raised and bred dogs to fight. Performance does not occur in a vacuum—there are millions of eyes on the performers, many of them children who idolize men who happen to be good at playing boys’ games. Football marketing is such that the stars are turned into superheroes, people who are superior to we mere mortals who couldn’t catch a cold, let alone a ball. Maybe it is the nature of celebrity, that those who receive adulation for being pretty or athletic or maybe just exhibitionists without much talent at all, to think that one is beyond the rules and boundaries set by society.
Vick fought dogs. He is supposedly this ruggedly tough guy who can throw a football because he was blessed with an arm—and make no mistake, you can practice all you wish, and while it might improve your ability, all the practice in the world won’t give you a good arm. You’re born with it. He took his gift and shrugged it off. Instead of investing in playgrounds for underprivileged children or in sponsoring humane societies, if he loves dogs, he chose to invest in blood and horror. He took to the field with pads and helmet and all manner of protective clothing and underpinnings and ten other men to protect him—and a long, wide field. He sent his dogs into the ring by themselves, with nowhere to escape, no one to help, nothing to protect them, no one to help. Is this an NFL player? He seems to me to be a coward.
He had a chance and became a celebrated player. He abused it. Let him take up something else, say, getting a job like the rest of us that doesn’t care if he can throw or run. Let him support his girlfriend and children on a waiter’s or salesman’s pay. Let him come back into society with the same uncertainties most of us have had to face the past few years and those coming up.
I am extraordinarily weary of all the players who dope, use steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, trash hotel rooms, get into fights, sometimes deadly, with weapons, lie and cheat. And I am sickened by Michael Vick intentionally broke that bond for financial gain by forcing a dog to fight. What is more devoted, loving, loyal, and courageous than a dog? What will his next entrepreneurial enterprise be? Selling drugs?
Fans want to see him return because he wins football games. He’s pitiful. What a loser.
Written by Gay Fifer, owner of Parsley Hollow, Inc.
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