Driving through New Jersey along I-95 this week, I passed The Meadowlands, home to The New York Jets and their controversial new quarterback, Michael Vick.
One thought immediately crossed my mind: Leave Vick alone. Enough is enough. Vick paid his debt to society; he is a solid and productive player in the NFL, but still, Vick’s misguided critics won’t let him return to a normal life.
It’s wrong — and the boycotts against Vick should stop. But they won’t. Now, there’s a new petition to ban Vick from SUNY Cortland’s campus, where the Jets will hold training camp this summer. So far, the petition has nearly 3,000 signatures.
The petition states: “I love SUNY Cortland, and cannot abide welcoming this sociopath onto our campus with open arms. We need to stand by what is right as a university by barring him from the grounds. I don’t want him anywhere near my beloved college or community. We MUST send the message that we won’t be party to the torture of animals by conveniently forgetting what he has done. If we welcome Vick onto our campus, we are complicit in his crimes.”
This is absolutely ridiculous. How would any critics of Vick be ‘complicit” to his crimes? So if we follow this twisted logic, then his critics should also be jailed. Vick plead guilty to a federal dog fighting conspiracy charge in 2007. He served 19 months in federal prison, he was released from jail, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, cut, and signed with the New York Jets last month.
As part of his restitution, Vick has worked with The Human Society, talking to young people about the wrongs of dogfighting and providing an living example of learning from your mistakes.
All was going well until this absurd new petition began circulating. Although the Jets have not commented about the petition, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seems genuinely supportive of Vick.
“Michael is a young man who made a tragic mistake,” Goodall said in a statement. “He paid a very heavy price for it, but I’ve seen him, in everything he’s done, exceed expectations. He has worked very hard to be a positive force in a lot of different areas. That’s something I admire about him. When we went through the process of reviewing whether he would come back into the league, he demonstrated that he was somebody who was committed to saying, ‘I am going to do this the right way. I am going to be a positive force.’ He has, and I’m proud of the work he has done. I think that’s the kind of thing we should have.”
Goodall’s comments certainly reflect my views about Vick and should encourage others to give Vick the space he deserves to keep his life on track. Here is how Vick’s publisher describes Vick’s book, Finally Free.
“One of the most talented and polarizing athletes of our generation, Michael Vick’s stunning story has captured news headlines across the nation. From his poverty-stricken youth, to his success on the field in high school and college, to his rise to NFL stardom and his fall from grace, Finally Free shows how a gifted athlete’s life spiraled out of control under the glare of money and fame, aided by his own poor choices.
In his own words, Vick details his regrets, his search for forgiveness, the moments of unlikely grace–and the brokenness that brought his redemption on the way to his celebrated return to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.”
As I motored past The Meadowlands along I-95, it reminded me of how we could all use some forgiveness and second chances in life – and that includes Michael Vick.