Does Michael Vick deserve a second chance?
As far as the law is concerned, he has paid his debt to society. He served 23 months in jail for federal racketeering. He pled not guilty to animal cruelty charges and those charges were eventually dropped completely as part of his plea bargain.
As far as the NFL is concerned, he has paid his debt to society and after mere months in jail has reinstated him.
As for the animal welfare community, PBRC is just one voice – but, we would like to take the opportunity to make our voice heard.
Should there be some type of punishment that extends beyond the legal? While this is probably more of an ethical debate, we think that a second chance should be based not strictly on time served but rather on the concept of remorse. Is Michael Vick sorry for what he did?
Let’s not forget how vigorously he blamed others for what happened and for leading him astray – all the while declaring his innocence. Michael Vick was one of the highest paid players in the NFL. He was the golden boy with a golden life and when he was caught, he lied and denied for as long as he could until the evidence piling up around him became overwhelming and all of his co-conspirators turned on him.
Now, after serving only 23 months in prison for a felony, he has been welcomed back to the NFL and has found a team to support him. We don’t know many felons that are allowed to return to their pre-crime multimillion dollar careers. Most individuals who are found guilty of a felony have to spend a long time atoning for their sins. They become pariahs in the community. Professional athletes are the exception, Michael Vick is the exception. For those who think Michael Vick is being singled out, that is simply not the case. PBRC believes that any thugs, criminals, and drug dealers should be expelled from the NFL - or any professional sports league, for that matter.
Michael Vick has never acknowledged how he participated in these crimes. He consistently skirts responsibility citing that he “should not have let it happen”. What we feel the public needs to be reminded of is that he didn’t just fund the operation from the sidelines. He didn’t let it happen as a spectator or silent partner. He was an active participant. He was physically involved in the electrocution, drowning, beating and hanging of dogs that didn’t “perform” to his satisfaction.
Though Vick states he ‘now’ knows it was wrong, we’re not sure he understands why it was wrong. We’re not sure he truly grasps the horror that most people felt when they heard or read about how he and his friends killed dogs with their bare hands. How much pain and terror those animals must have felt. To truly atone for his behavior he needs to acknowledge his participation in these crimes. He needs to take ownership of what he did. He should admit to the public that he physically slammed a dog into the ground until it was broken and dead. He should say that he is truly sorry. And he should mean it.
We are not sure he grasps that at all or really understands pain and suffering. A dog’s capacity to love at times seems much greater than ours and their forgiveness is extraordinary. The animals have probably forgiven him where we continue to debate…
So, does Michael Vick deserve a second chance? PBRC says “NO”. The American public does not need this kind of role model or spokesperson for animal cruelty. He does not – cannot - speak for OUR breed and he should not be considered a positive influence. His actions were not mistakes – they were CHOICES; they were a series of horrifying decisions and a lifestyle of cruelty and suffering. His is not simply one mistake but a long string of horrible decisions that potentially cite an inability to empathize with suffering, a lack of compassion and an outright disdain for life.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi”