Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Should Michael Vick Return to the NFL?

Michael Vick, an NFL quarterback at the time, made the news a couple of years ago when he was first accused and then convicted of running a dogfighting ring. Now that he has finally been released, his future is still cloudy.

Michael Vick, who served 18 months in a federal prison and an additional two months in home confinement for his role in a dogfighting operation, completed his sentence Monday, making him a free man. But Vick’s future, wrapped up in whether he has remorse for his actions, remains murky.

Vick, a quarterback, is not eligible to restart his football career until he is reinstated by N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell, who had said that he would consider Vick’s case after the sentence was completed, has not committed to a schedule for making his decision. (Since then, he has announced that Vick can return subject to a further suspension until possibly Week 6 of the NFL schedule.)

The NFL is clearly playing to fans’ emotions over Vick’s cruelty to dogs. Dogs are among the most beloved creatures to man and the thinking of many is that anybody who would do what he did to dogs not only deserves to go to prison (which he did), but should never play in the NFL again.

And this is where I have a problem with all of this over-the-top sentiment. Once Vick has been already been punished by our criminal justice system, do we still have the right to continue punishing him by depriving him of his livelihood? For those who still detest Vick for what he did, the answer is apparently yes. But this is not about whether we like or dislike Vick. It is about basic fairness to a man who has paid his debt to society.

There are some who say that he should be able to go back to work again, but not in the NFL. But if Vick still has the talent and skills to earn a living in the NFL, it is just as unfair to practice what can only be described as job discrimination just to satisfy some people who feel that Vick can never be punished enough for what he did.

Commissioner Goodell is clearly trying to have it both ways. On one hand, he is showing that he is a fair person who will give somebody like Vick a second chance by reinstating him. But to placate those who still have hard feelings toward Vick, the additional suspension for the beginning of this season will make it more difficult for Vick to catch on with an NFL team that only has a limited number of roster spots available at the beginning of each season.

Well-known NFL receiver and windbag Terrell Owens
had this to say about Vick’s situation.

“’I think he’s done the time for what he’s done,” Owens said. “I don’t think it’s really fair for him to be suspended four more games.

“Why more punishment? It’s almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground.”
As much as I hate to agree with anything T.O. has to say, he’s right this time!

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