Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick Signs 2-Year Deal with Eagles

Suspended NFL Quarterback Michael Vick has landed with a new team -- The Philadelphia Eagles. Vick signed a 2 year deal with the Eagles on Friday. The first year of the deal is for $1.6 million with the second-year option worth $5.2 million, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Vick can also earn an additional $3 million in incentives over the two years of the contract, sources told's Len Pasquarelli.

Vick can begin working out and practicing at the Eagles facilities immediately and will be eligible to play in the team's last 2 preseason games. Commissioner Roger Goodell has laid out a timeline in which Vick would be eligible to see regular season action no later than Week 6, depending on the nature of the reports from Vick's advisor and former headcoach of the Indianapolis Colts Tony Dungy, Eagles headcoach Andy Reid, and other individuals in place to monitor Vick's transition.

Now that Vick has found a new home the media and PR circus can officially begin. The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wasted no time reminding people exactly what Vick had done. "PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Eagles decided to sign a guy who hung dogs from trees. He electrocuted them with jumper cables and held them under water," PETA spokesman Dan Shannon told The Associated Press. "You have to wonder what sort of message this sends to young fans who care about animals and don't want them to be harmed." Vick was spotted at Chicago's O'Hare airport earlier this week, fueling rumors that the Bears might be suitors for the services of the free agent quarterback. Vick was actually attending a Humane Society event in a Westside community where he talked to local children about the dangers of dogfighting.

There have been a myriad of reports on fan reaction related to Vick's signing, both in Philadelphia and nationally. There have been threats from season ticket holders to sell their lot in protest. Some casual observers, who previously had a tacit interest in the Eagles franchise, have vowed to not become fully devoted followers of the team due to the quarterback's signing. It appears that the vast majority of sports fans and onlookers are of the mindset that, although Vick's crimes were heinous in their nature, he has paid his debt to society and now deserves the second chance opportunity that is loosely attached to the promise of the American Dream. Vick is aware of the fragile nature of this opportunity and vows to make the best of it. "I'm glad that coach Reid and the rest of the organization stepped forward," Vick said. "I'm glad I got the opportunity and the second chance. I won't disappoint.

The over 2-year long saga surrounding Michael Vick has brought many polarizing subjects to forefront of our societal vision. The rights of animals have converged with the rights of humans. The distinctions between what is legal under the law and what is proper due to our acculturation has been further confounded. Some believe that Vick should still be behind bars for his acts while others believe that he has paid more than a satisfactory price for his misgivings.

These opinions can never be reconciled because they speak to the conditional nature of the way we as humans distill justice, mercy, and forgiveness. Who is worthy of forgiveness is often a function of our relation to the criminal and their crimes. Fans of football who happen to also be animal lovers and animal lovers are calling for Vick to show more remorse -- to have a torturing sense of guilt for his heinous actions. I personally don't care if Michael Vick is remorseful. After spending 2 years in prison, spending several more years on probation, losing tens of millions of dollars in salary and endorsements, and being confronted daily with negative reactions from animal rights groups and citizens that love their pets like family members I have a feeling that Vick understands that what he did was wrong and will more than likely never again do anything remotely similar to the actions that have landed him in his current reality.

To say that Vick needs to show remorse is presumptuous and unempathic on our parts. Does he lose sleep at night from visions of ruthlessly hanging, electrocuting, and otherwise abusing those helpless dogs at Bad Newz Kennels? None of us can say because we don't know for certain what's in Vick's heart. Does the thought of those lonely nights in a Leavenworth prison bunk and the enduring pain and embarassment that he has caused his family, friends, and himself torture Vick constantly? None of us can say for sure that it does or does not but my educated guess would be that, yes, it does.

In a country that lauds montras such as "Equal Justice Before Law" and "Only God can judge us", where we fit young men and women with dog tags and ship them off to war as subjects in human dog fights, where we inprison and execute a greater percentage of our population that any other country on earth (save Communist China), it would befit all of us afford Michael Vick his second chance -- his ONLY second chance -- with deference and impartiality. Without regard for our own selective self-righteousness and convenient morality, we would ask for the same opportunity.

1 comment:

  1. As an animal lover (albeit, not exactly a PETA card holder), I was throughly disgusted by what I had heard Vick was guilty of doing to dogs. However, one cannot overlook the fact that if Vick was NOT a celebrity, would this have happened? Would he have received the sentence he did? True, the justice system was supposed to have been "making an example" of Vick, but isn't justice suppose to be blind?

    Whatever my personal biases may be given my love of animals (and dogs in particular :-p), one cannot overlook what justice did in this one, particular case.

    With that said, I think that the public has already tried Vick. Like so many fallen celebrities and atheletes before him, this will characterize Vick's social persona, right or wrong. Perhaps this was a more apt punishment than what he did, one cannot be definite in this matter. The judge and jury just thought they were.