One Last Word on Michael Vick
By the way, the controversy over Michael Vick’s reinstatement to the NFL is still raging. Following Wednesday’s Philadelphia show, in which we had what I think was an intelligent discussion about Vick’s reinstatement, I do think some people moved their positions, but I don’t think any widespread peace has broken out between the two sides.
If you’ve been reading this blog, then you know how much I love animals, dogs in particular. I’ve also made it clear just how outraged I am with anyone who engages in dogfighting. In my opinion, people who do this kind of thing are sick, and they are sick in such a way that it’s unlikely to expect any real change from them.
Nevertheless, I personally found the Philadelphia show to be very thought-provoking — so much so, I actually forgot we were doing a show because I was so engrossed in the discussion. I went into the discussion with an open mind, but in all honesty, I was skeptical about whether Vick was rehabilitated and whether he truly had earned the right to be back in the NFL. Still, I will say, I was impressed with what I heard from Eagles head coach Andy Reid, who I spoke with the day before we did the show. The coach believes Vick is sincere, is genuinely turning his life around and is determined to never go back to that place in his life where he thought it was perfectly fine to fight dogs.
I believe that Vick should be credited for serving his time in prison without complaint and publicly declaring that he has learned the error of his ways. I was also impressed with Governor Rendell’s logic that it sends a terribly negative message to other prisoners serving their time; that we still choose to deny them the right to earn a living after they have paid their debt to society.
If you watched the show, you know that the NAACP representative said he thought that a lot of what had happened to Michael Vick was about race. He believed Vick was being treated harshly simply because he is an African-American. White convicts who served their time, he went on to say, aren’t judged so harshly after they are released from prison. I’m curious what you think about that point of view. Personally, I just don’t see it, but of course, I could be missing something here. Maybe you’ll enlighten me.
I guess where I come down is that our opinions are after the fact. He has been re-signed, that’s the reality, but I believe the Eagles and the NFL should proceed with extreme caution. As I pointed out on the show, I’m not saying Vick is a sociopath (antisocial personality disorder). I can’t do that because I haven’t evaluated him or seen the results from anyone who has, but based on his conduct, he certainly could be. And if that’s the case, I’m not optimistic that he has, or even can, get better. The fact is that the prognoses for people with these types of disorders, while varying from person to person, are generally, in my experience, not good.
Now let me be clear: I’m not saying he shouldn’t be given a second chance. But, what really bothers me is that there doesn’t seem to be much focus on whether or not he has really gotten any better. To really overcome this type of behavior and reasoning, it takes a lot of work with highly-trained professionals. Despite the progress that has been made in the prison environment in recent past, I’m guessing it is just not the therapeutic milieu Michael Vick is likely to flourish in.
In my opinion, giving him his NFL status back before he has done the work required of him is imprudent and untimely. I actually think it’s unfair to him: giving him too much too soon could very well be setting him up for failure. Just because his handlers and spin doctors have him saying the “right” things doesn’t mean he believes or means a word of it. Just because they have him interacting with students and animal advocates doesn’t mean he’s on his way to lasting change.
But as I said, at this point, we have to accept the facts: Vick is signed with the Eagles, and given starting quarterback Donovan McNabb’s rib injury, he may soon play. I sure hope he works as relentlessly with a professional therapist as he does practicing pass plays. As Pennsylvania Governor Rendell said on the show, the measure of his success or failure will not be on the field, but in his life off the field.
So, I’m going to watch all this unfold with an open mind. And I mean it when I say I’m going to be watching. We need to be very cautious about Michael Vick — very, very cautious. Time will tell as his behavior will speak much louder than the scripted words he is spewing.