Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Redemption of Michael Vick

Inhumane. Subhuman. Disgusted. Furious. Inexcusable.

Back when I used to write over at Wizbang! Sports (now defunct), and if memory serves, those were a few of the words I used to describe the arrest of Michael Vick and the gruesome details behind his direct involvement in a dog-fighting gambling ring.

Like most dog lovers, I wanted to see him punished severely and serve the maximum time for his inhumanity (5 years). Instead, under a plea bargain, he received the near minimum of 18 months with the possibility of receiving more time if he failed to cooperate with prosecutors.

This did not sit well with me, or others. Yet sometimes justice can be indirect.

By the time Vick entered federal prison on Dec. 10, 2007, he had not only lost his freedom but also close to $40 million in football and endorsement contracts. That took the sting out of the 18-month sentence.

Now he’s back.

So what do I think and how do feel about it?

Put it this way: I believe in redemption. Vick has atoned for his sins by pledging his time and money into the rehabilitation of fight dogs, educating the public about dog fighting and is, as I understand it, furthering his involvement in the rehabilitation of fight dogs in Philly. No matter my opinions on the sentence ruling, Vick served the time handed down. And now he deserves a second chance, if not in the public’s eyes, in his own life.

He doesn’t have to redeem himself to society or myself because that really isn’t up to any human being; that is God’s decision. And considering the God I worship and follow is a loving and forgiving God—one that has forgiven far, far worse than what Vick did—I imagine God granted him redemption a while ago.

Vick will have some rough crowds to face, including those in his new home city of Philadelphia—and people that may not see this the way I do. They will taunt and jeer him and make “barking” sounds when he takes the field or makes a play or even breathes. Some may even think he still belongs in prison. I understand all that.

But those folks should stop for a second and think: Given the disturbingly large population of first-time and repeat miscreants in the NFL who seem scarcely unrepentant by their crimes and misdemeanors (think: Adam “Pacman” Jones, Plaxico Burress, Chris Henry, etc.), maybe rooting for Vick is, ironically enough, to err on the side of humanity. Go figure.

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