Vick Haters, It’s Time to Move On

Michael Vick fought, tortured and murdered multiple dogs.  It’s time to get over it, people.

Call me heartless.  Call me insensitive.  Tell me I have no soul.  I don’t care.  I am SICK of hearing about Michael Vick’s crimes against dogs and how much he’s still having to pay for that horrible mistake.  Absolutely sick of it.  And what’s worse, I’m starting to loathe even more the people who are still so hellbent on painting him as the Antichrist; people who even after all this time still consider him to be worse than Hitler.  It’s time for people to let the man be and move on.  People might think that I hate animals, or that I am just as cynical as I am stubborn and the latter might be true.  But the fact of the matter is something much more simple than that.

Don’t get me wrong, what he did was despicable, horrible, disgusting and wrong.  Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying people should not be upset with what he’s done as I think any human being with half a heart would be.  But the degree to which people have taken their hatred for this man is simply beyond my comprehension and understanding — especially when you consider those in his same position who have done much worse and paid much, much less of a price.

Just the other day I was sitting in the office doing some work on my computer and (of course) Sports Center was on the TV in the living room.  I immediately began to notice that they were talking about Michael Vick and why people still hated him so much and about how all the horrible things he did have affected his image.  I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and just continue working.  I mean honestly, it’s been over three years.  Why are we still talking about this?  So I went back to what I was doing and sort of tuned out the TV.  Needless to say 30 minutes went by and I again became distracted by the gab on my television… they were still talking about Michael Vick and his past transgressions.

I kind of felt like pelting the screen with my remote, but instead I just gladly changed the channel.  I couldn’t believe it.  A 1 hour segment on Michael Vick’s dog fighting rings and how much of a negative image he has and how it’s impacted him.  Are you kidding me?  It was at that moment that I had sort of an epiphany; an epiphany that I’m sure a lot of others have already experienced but I guess I’m behind the times.  I feel as though this particular thought has always been somewhere in my head, but I guess I’d never realized until that moment the degree of severity that this small truth had reached in reality:  Human life is grossly undervalued and the Michael Vick story is the epitome of this phenomenon.

Yes, we idolize pets (especially dogs) because there’s just something enchanting and fascinating about an animal who seems to love us just as much as we love them.  We raise and teach them as if they were our own kids, we mourn them when they die… it’s easy to see why the line between animal and human blurs for some people.  But it’s important to never forget that the line is there.  This despite the fact that our legal system and public opinion seem to think otherwise.

Michael Vick plead guilty to federal dog fighting charges, including an enhanced charge of interstate trafficking of the dogs and fighting rings.  The maximum penalty for all of the charges put together was 6 years in prison and a $350,000.00 fine.  The prosecutors recommended 12-18 months, but the judge took it upon himself to enhance that recommendation to 23 months.  He served 19 months in the medium-security prison in Leavenworth, Kansas and was released in 2009 on condition of two months of home confinement.  He filed for Ch. 11 Bankruptcy and suffered debt to the tune of $10-50 million.  He worked for a construction company when he was released from prison making $10/hr.  I mean this guy was taken to the cleaners.  A lot of people would say he deserved it… perhaps that’s true and I can understand that sentiment.  My problem is with people who think he still deserves the worst of the worst even when faced with the reality that he is one of the only celebrities to have ever taken full responsibility and dealt with the totality of the consequences for a major crime that he committed.

In a society where celebrities suffer little to no consequences for serious crimes or offenses from multiple DUIs to murder, Michael Vick paid his debt and because of the media and the public’s obsession with what he’s done, he will likely continue to pay that price for the rest of his life.  Three. Years. Later… and PETA is, of course, still up in arms, animal rights activists are making it their mission to make his life a living hell at every turn.  I simply cannot get behind or support this type of chastising towards Vick in any way and neither should you.  Here’s why…

Two words:  Donte.  Stallworth.

On the morning of March 14, 2009, Donte Stallworth – then WR for the Cleveland Browns – was driving while intoxicated at almost twice the legal limit.  With his Bently, Stallworth struck and killed a 59 yr. old pedestrian who may or may not have been jaywalking.  Stallworth plead guilty (just like Vick) and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and house arrest for 2 years but is allowed to leave for work.  Let that sink in for a bit… 30 days in JAIL.  And the best part is, he only actually served 24 of those days.  Not even a MONTH in jail for taking a human life.  He reportedly shoveled out a boat load of money to the victim’s family – who afterward were miraculously made whole.  Big surprise.  Stallworth was suspended for the entire 2009 season and was reinstated in 2010 just after the Super Bowl and obtained a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Ravens.  He is currently an active player in the NFL.  It’s been less than 2 years since the manslaughter.  When was the last time you’ve heard anyone badmouth Donte for what he did?

Another example:  In 1998, Leonard Little was a Defensive End for the St. Louis Rams and he also was driving while intoxicated at over twice the legal limit.  Little ran a red light, broad sided a woman named Susan Gutweiler’s vehicle and killed her, leaving behind her husband and son.  Little was sentenced to 90-days in the city workhouse, four years probation and 1,000 hours of community service.  ZERO confinement.  The NFL suspended him for eight games, and Little later obtained a five-year, $17.5 million deal.  He is currently retired.

PETA and animal rights activists have been front and center since Vick was released from prison, leading the way in the march attempting to smear him at every turn.  People stopped attending games where he would be present, people protested outside his games’ stadiums, every. single. aspect. of his life has been under a microscope for the past year and a half.

But where were the activists for Little and Stallworth’s human victims?  Where was the public outrage and ridicule for their much more serious crimes?  They snuffed out human lives, they ruined families, they thwarted the penal system through the use of monetary compensation… where was the extensive media coverage years after the fact?  The one hour Sports Center segments?  The protests?

How can anyone honestly sit there and criticize Michael Vick while ignoring the gross mishandling of these cases?  It’s pure hypocrisy and it’s what angers me most about the situation;  the fact that people are so up in arms about what Vick did while at the same time seem to give little to no thought about the taking of two human lives.

Hell, if you want an even more ridiculous contrast to Little and Stallworth’s crimes, look at Plaxico Burress – WR for the NY Giants!  In 2008, he shot himself on accident, was merely charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and is STILL serving his 2 year sentence as I type this.

Sure you can sit there and try to convince yourself that what Vick did was worse because it was intentional, it was exceptionally brutal and he did it more than once, but I’m sorry that is total bullshit.  Any action which intentionally or recklessly causes serious harm or kills another human being will always, always, always be worse than any offense against an animal.

In addition to the fact that he’s served his time (which is more than most others can say), he’s been seriously committed to public service and seems genuinely remorseful for his actions.  Of course, the cynic could easily say remorse means absolutely nothing because what he did was too reprehensible, but it’s my opinion that if we can’t believe in the rehabilitating power of the penal system, then what’s the point?  Being that I’m a future attorney, if I can’t believe that convicted criminals are at the very least capable of rehabilitation then I should seriously reconsider my profession.  Plus, I don’t think what he did makes him completely beyond saving.

While I can’t ever say whether he is or isn’t sorry for what he’s done, here’s what someone else had to say about it:

“[Vick] clearly expressed remorse and contrition, but that’s not what convinced me to think about plugging him into these programs … If he’s sincere about it and in it for the long haul, then he can be an agent for change. He needs to prove himself to us and the rest of the country.”  —Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society

Michael Vick was the one who approached Pacelle about working with the Humane Society.  Ever since his release, he’s been working with them to speak with inner city teens who have a high risk of exposure to dog fighting.  Pacelle went on to say that Vick could possibly have one of the greatest impacts in urban communities that their cause has ever accomplished.  Vick has donated millions to animal rights groups, shelters and activists.

Yet none of this is enough.  When will it ever be enough?  Cheesy sentiment, but isn’t forgiveness the most noble of all human traits?  What will it take for people to stop obsessing over what Michael Vick has done?  It was enough for Leonard Little to simply walk away… it was enough for Donte Stallworth to serve a measly 24 days in jail for killing another human being in order for people to move on from his crime.

If we can so easily forget about Leonard Little and Donte Stallworth’s taking of human lives, we should be able to move on from Michael Vick’s transgressions.  Why the difference in treatment between what Vick did and what Little and Stallworth did, I really couldn’t tell you.  Some will blame the media, others just can’t see past the face of their own pet.  Whatever the reason, one thing is certain:  Michael Vick has paid his debt to society, and that’s worlds beyond what most celebrities who’ve committed major felonies can say.  And in my opinion that alone makes him worthy of anyone’s forgiveness.

So I say it’s time to move on.  Get over it.  It’s done.  Deal with it.  Let him be.  No one is saying you have to love the guy and worship the ground he walks on.  But it’s time to go back to thoroughly enjoying watching him work his magic on the grid iron.

 

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Posted on February 18, 2011, in NFL. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree with you whole-heartedly.

    I know you know this, but the criminal justice system has two purposes: punishment and rehabilitation. It appears that in Michael Vick’s case the system worked perfectly.

    His punishment was serious; 19 months in Federal Prison, regardless of how touchy feely people think they have become, is 19 months of no privacy, no freedom, no nothing.

    But more importantly, the guy seems genuinely regretful of his actions, and not just getting caught. He seems to have learned from the whole incident. He no longer walks with the “I am invincible” swagger so many prima donna athletes have. He’s become humble, and he seems to have found God.

    By the way, you’ll find no one who detests the animal fighting business more than me, especially when it comes to dogs. I’m glad he was caught, and I’m glad he suffered for these crimes.

    But I’m more glad that he’s come out of it a better person. Whether you are a person of faith or not, how can you not celebrate the fact that he’s come out of this a better person? This shows the lie of PETA (one which you so brilliantly reveal in your comparisons to other athletes that have caused the death of people): they value the lives of animals over the lives of human beings. This is delusional. I can understand if you put animals on the same moral tier as people, but higher? It’s why I’ll never trust PETA, and why they are too stupid to realize that they undermine their own cause every time they open their mouths.

    I am a fan of Michael Vick. I wasn’t before the dog fighting incident, and I certainly wasn’t for a while afterwards. His actions, his humility, the man he is (the best way that I can tell, not knowing him), is actually the kind of man we should be lifting up, offering them as role models. We’re all guilty of something, we just don’t all get caught. How many of us can say that we’ve grown and learned from our mistakes?

    Michael Vick can.

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