Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Michael Vick

On Monday night, Eagles QB Mike Vick had one of the greatest games in NFL History. He threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 80 yards and another two touchdowns. Vick had over 400 yards of total offense and SIX touchdowns, an amazing game by any player under any circumstances. However, Vick's performance was even more eye-opening than usual, because of his checkered past both on and off the field.

Vick's performance this season has been a pleasure to watch; there's no doubting that. He's finally learning how to go through his progressions, remain patient in the pocket, and he seems to make at least one or two huge plays every game. If he can continue to stay healthy he's the favorite to win the NFL MVP Award, and that would truly be an amazing turn around from where this guy was two years ago.

We all know the story. Vick was caught running an illegal dog-fighting operation at one of his homes in Virginia. He admitted to killing innocent dogs, sometimes because they were too hurt after a fight, and other times simply because they lost. No matter how many great things Vick does from this point forward, on or off the field, it's impossible to just look past the fact that Vick got joy and entertainment out of killing of innocent animals.

Personally, I think Vick simply surrounded himself with the wrong people, and he grew up in a culture that most of us can't believe. Vick was never truly taught what was right and wrong. That's not an excuse, because someone shouldn't have to tell a person that fighting and killing innocent dogs is wrong. It's a terrible thing, and anyone who thinks otherwise is flat out stupid.

I've seen a lot of people over the last two days talking about Vick; everyone seems to be jumping back on the bandwagon. That's not surprising at all, and in my opinion there's nothing wrong with it. Vick appears to be a changed person. He's talking to youths all across the country about the negative effects of his decisions, and while the message is clearly to avoid animal cruelty, he's teaching these kids that every poor decision they make will have consequences no matter who they are. Vick lost a $100MM contract, was forced to file for bankruptcy, and spent nearly two years during what should have been the prime of his career in jail. As far as poor decisions having consequences go, Vick's poor decision couldn't have cost him more aside from his life.

What bothers me is the people who say they've 'always been a Vick fan.' Look, the guy is a joy to watch on the field this year. He's as quick as ever, and he can make anyone miss in the open field. His throw on Monday night to open the game to DeSean Jackson was a thing of beauty, and the rest of the night wasn't much different. He appears to have finally reached his potential, as a 30-year-old who has been through more than he needed to be. Anyone that remained a loyal Vick fan while he was on trial, or in jail, should be ashamed. Imagine if Vick had killed your dog? The dogs they rescued were so scared of human interaction that several of them had to be put down because they were deemed incurable. It's terribly sad to think of these poor innocent dogs being electrocuted or drowned because they either lost a fight or refused to fight. Anyone that can be a fan of someone during that time isn't loyal; they're obsessed and not in a good way.

Look, Vick served his time and he lost more money than I'll probably ever make in my lifetime. Going to jail seems like the best thing that could have happened to Mike Vick the football player, because now he understands just how blessed he is. He's working harder, listening to his coaches, and the results are eye-opening. He's been the best player in football this year when healthy and the Eagles are a legitimate Super Bowl contender as long as Vick is behind center.

He absolutely deserved a second chance. I believe everyone does, and it does seem that Vick is in fact a completely different person. He understands what he did was terrible, and when he thinks about all the stuff he lost, he knows how dumb it was. I'm rooting for Vick to make it all the way back, to win the NFL MVP Award, and take the Eagles to a place Donovan McNabb never could. I love watching Vick, and when he's been interviewed this year he comes off as humble and as someone who finally gets it. There aren't many stories that are more inspirational than someone who loses everything battling his way back to the top; the fact that Vick is doing it with such flare and humility makes it that much better to watch.

However, I will never fully be a Michael Vick fan. I've gone from despising him to putting up with him to now, finally, rooting for him. But I can't get past what he did. I can't relate to what Kobe Bryant did, and cheating on your wife is a terrible mistake, but I don't think he actually raped that girl in the Colorado hotel room so it's much easier for me to watch him and cheer for him. The fact that he's a pompous asshole is more of a reason for people to dislike him than cheating on his wife; right or wrong, that's the culture we live in. But killing innocent dogs is something that cannot be overstated. Some of the images that were shown in the immediate aftermath of the allegations were stunning. I'm not going to post any here, because trust me it's nothing anyone wants to see, but if you haven't seen them a simple Google search will find them.

Mike Vick appears to be a changed man off the field, and he's absolutely a changed man on the field. If you want to be a Vick fan, that's fine. The better he plays over time, the more and more people there will be that forgive him for what he did. But just because he's remorseful for what he did doesn't mean we all should instantly forgive him. I'm willing to bet there's a lot of criminals in prison that are remorseful for what they did, but none of us are willing to forgive a convicted rapist or murderer simply because they know what they did was wrong. The only reason some people are willing to forgive Vick completely for what he did is because he's playing at a high level again. Sometimes sports can feel like they are a way of life; the way fans have unwavering support for the team through good times and bad, the way people schedule their days and nights around their favorite teams game that week, etc. But we can't forget as a society that there is a lot more to life than sports, and Mike Vick is living proof.

I will continue to root for the man, and hope he has actually changed. But as someone who loves dogs, I will never forgive him for killing them. I'd hope that most people will agree Vick can never be forgiven for what he did, but the sad fact is our culture would rather watch Mike Vick do what he did on Monday and forgive him for what he did two years ago, while mocking Tim Tebow for going overseas and helping perform circumcisions in third-world countries. Vick is electric, Tebow at this point throws like my grandma. It's unfortunate that we lose sight of the real important things in life simply because someone can do things on a football field we only dream of. When I have a kid, all I know is I hope he turns out like Tim Tebow, not Michael Vick. I think most people would agree with that, but everyone should.


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