Three years ago, Michael Vick was one of the most dangerous and elusive players that the National Football League (NFL) had ever seen. However, that all changed in the summer of 2007 when three other men and Vick were indicted with felony charges for dog fighting. He eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to approximately 23 months in a federal prison.
This past April, Vick was released from prison and finished the rest of his sentence under house arrest on July 20, 2009. Once he completed his time, the talk of his possible return to the NFL reached an all-time fervor. From ESPN to CNN, many speculated on whether or not the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, would reinstate Vick back into the league and if so, when. Within a week, Goodell reinstated Vick but only on a conditional basis, a concept that stated that he had up until week six of the season to fully reinstate Vick.; However, Goodell later ruled that Vick could play by week three of the season. On August 13, 2009, in a move that surprised football fans and analysts alike, he was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles on a two-year contract.
Now that Vick has done his time and is back in the NFL to attempt to make a living for himself and his family (and to get himself out of debt), there are still voices out there who feel that he does not deserve a second chance. Out of the most outspoken groups that are against Vick, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), have made it clear that they believe that he should not receive a second chance, let alone be able to prove himself. Right after Vick was done speaking at his first conference after being released from federal custody, PETA felt that he was not compassionate enough and should take further steps to prove to them that he is truly sorry for what he did, like taking a psychological test. They have even said that they will be present at the Eagles’ games this season to protest the organization to express their discontent. But what is even more mind boggling is that an animal rights group in Washington D.C. vowed to donate a bag of dog food to a random animal shelter in Washington DC every time Vick gets sacked during the October 26, 2009 Eagles vs. Redskins game. The animal rights group also said that it is all fun and games being for a good cause. People seem to understand that the group might be trying to get publicity out of this whole situation, but when it comes to putting another human being’s health and livelihood on the line, it stops being funny.
We will never know if Vick is truly sorry for what he did, but there is one thing that we do know and can do: let the man prove himself first. Before we, as a society, cast the first stone, let Mr. Vick have his shot at redemption so that he can have a chance to turn himself around and to show himself, and ultimately society itself, that people can change when given a second chance.