“I just want to be apart of that great tradition,” said Michael Vick in his statement at a press conference on Aug. 14, when speaking on the topic of being accepted back into the NFL. However, is he helping to preserve the tradition he so loves, or degrade it? The 29-year-old quarterback was suspended from the NFL and served 18 of his 24-month sentence for felony animal abuse charges for his ownership of Bad Newz Kennels where Vick was responsible for the torture and killing of hundreds of pit bulls.
He is now a free man, and has been signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, a contract that was encouraged by friend and now fellow Eagle, Donovan McNab.
“I knew he was going to end up being picked up by a team but I think overall it does not bode well for sports in the fact that athletes are supposed to be icons for not only adults but for children,” said MCC college graduate Benjamin O’Master.
“People growing up are supposed to look up to them as heroes. It just seems to be getting worse over time we forgive players for D.U.I.’s, for spousal abuse, and now for felony animal abuse.”
“The question is where do we draw the line? If a player is convicted of rape would we allow him back in the league to put people in the stands, to win ball games, and to make money?”
The entire affair should demand us to question what the NFL uniform means? There are men donning NFL uniforms that couldn’t get a job at your local grocery.
Should a person’s athletic talent have more social weight then his inability to care for basic morality? Does the NFL define what is ethical, or do our ethics define the NFL?
“I personally think that cases like that should carry a more lengthy sentence, but he did serve his time and he’s a free man now. That should be enough,” O’Master said.
“Being a free man is a second shot. Being put back in an NFL uniform is being put in position where he’s going to be looked up to by fans of the league. I think it justifies and placates the behavior he indulged in,” O’Master said.
It’s an ugly situation no matter which way it’s examined. However, there are positives that can be gleaned from the circumstance.
“It’s unfortunate that these kinds of things happen, and to a lot of people it appears that he received a slap on the wrist for a crime we all think is heinous,” said Shannon Boyer, director of operations for Arizona Animal Welfare League.
“I think what people are forgetting the positive that can be attained from this kind of thing is that he will always be the dogfighter. That is the positive that we need to try to take out of it, we are helpless to do anything else but to find the positive.”
At least in surface value Vick seems to be trying to get the public to open their blind eyes.
“I want to be apart of the solution, and not the problem. I’m making conscious efforts in the community to work with the Humane Society,” Vick said.
“Hopefully I can do that locally, and continue with my diligent efforts to bring awareness to animal cruelty, and dog fighting in the inner cities and our communities. I now know that playing in the NFL is a privilege and not a right. I want to be an ambassador for the NFL in the community. If I can help more animals then I hurt, then I’m doing my part.