Like ESPN’s Rick Reilly, I’m not sure what Michael Vick critics want the man to do at this point. Some surely chaff over the knowledge that a convicted felon is now back from prison and making millions in the NFL, is on track to potentially earn MVP honors and has already become the first quarterback in history to be named as the NFC Offensive Player of the Week two weeks in a row (Nov. 9 and Nov. 16). And, the Pro Football Hall of Fame requested his jersey from the Nov. 15 game in which Vick lit up the field upon becoming the first player in history to pass for 300 yards, run for 50, throw four touchdown passes and run for two more. And, after just eight games, he’s also on track to shatter his passing yardage from 2006, the last year he played a complete season with the Falcons. For animal lovers or anyone else who may think that getting to walk around in civil society is too much of a privilege even for someone who has served their debt to society in prison, these facts may cut to the quick.
As if 18 months in Leavenworth, and six more in a halfway house, aren’t punishment enough.
“Michael Vick should give half of his … salary to animal rights groups,” Liz McGowin wrote on PETA.org.
As if losing $100 million and three years in the prime of his career wasn’t steep enough.
“Michael Vick is a Sociopathic Dog-Torturing, Dog-Maiming, Dog-Drowning, Dog-Electrocuting Pile of S—,” somebody posted on Vick’s Twitter page Thursday. Vick’s Twitter page was running about half against him this week — until it was frozen for “suspicious activity.”
As if being judged and humiliated in front of the world isn’t shame enough.
As if …
But for the rest of us, the Vick story is one of redemption. Some may say it’s all a ruse. Some may say that Vick is saying all the right things because he knows what to say and plays the role well. Some may say he’s actually unrepentant and is only doing and saying those right things because he doesn’t want to lose his career and his millions. But I think any honest look at the man’s attitude, demeanor and, yes, his words, will show that he’s “contrite,” “humble” and “chastened,” as Reilly put it.
Here are a few of his recent posts on Twitter that, I think, give a glimpse into where the man’s heart and mind are at this point:
- Well I’m about to go spend more time with my family. Thanks for all the well wishes on this day. I’ll be back in a few !
- Thank you God for watching over me another night and giving me the chance to see another day … Good morning twitter !
- I truly appreciate all the love i cant answer everybody but im going to figure out a way to start following a few of you !
- God Can Turn Mistakes Into Miracles ……….. Good Morning Twitter Family !
- Thank you God for watching over me another night and letting me see another day !
- I was just informed i’ll be this weeks NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Couldn’t have done it without my team !
- GOD IS GREAT !
Now, while we know that talking about how great God is isn’t necessary an automatic sign of someone’s character (Indeed, the opposite is the case a lot of the time. The very words Allahu Akbar, or, “God is great,” were, via Saddam Hussein’s order, placed in the center of the Iraqi flag in 1991), the humbleness to Vick’s fans and his teammates seems to come through in his various postings.
So to his remaining critics, I would say this: Is the American correctional system truly about corrections or not? Either the goal should be rehabilitation to some degree in all prisoners in which that might be possible, or we should throw away the keys on all sentences and wipe our hands of those folks. If I were to royally mess up at any point in my life, I would certainly hope society, family and friends would give me a second chance.
In the federal corrections world, they call it “re-entry.” For most freed felons, re-entry into society is fraught with trouble. Some guys get out and can’t even get a driver’s license, much less a job. The adjustment to life outside can give a guy the bends. Quite often, the road leads them right back inside.
But Michael Vick? He has made the kind of re-entry usually reserved for Apollo astronauts. The man reinvented himself into a wonder, both in his uniform and out. He has seen how wrong he was. He’s sorry. He’s making amends.
“I don’t have to think about going back down the path I’ve traveled because it’s not going to happen,” Vick said Wednesday. “I can live my life with a clear mind every day, knowing that I’m moving forward.”
Why can’t everybody else?
Why not, indeed.