I am utterly sick and tired of being told that it's time to forgive Michael Vick. I do not need to be told that I need to forgive. Or when.
Yes, the man is a talented athlete. (That I don't believe athletes should be hero-worshipped simply for being big bags of testosterone is a separate issue.)
Yes, the man is contrite, humbled, all of those things. Yes, he is open about crying himself to sleep in jail (um, who wouldn't?) and how he is grateful to be given a second chance.
Yes, this behavior is rare for talented athletes, who often commit crimes and act unrepentant about their acts.
He tortured animals.
It's not just that he killed dogs. Because for some of those animals, death was probably a sweet mercy. It's that he bred them to be killers, and when they didn't do what he wanted, he in turn killed them, mostly by drowning. He bankrolled, hosted, and masterminded an extensive dogfighting operation where animals would cause severe injury to other animals, only to have them (somewhat) nursed back to health in order to serve as victim yet another day.
It's not that he killed, it's that he tortured. It's not just that he tortured, but that he tortured animals who were defenseless. It's not just that he did all of these things, it's that I'm expected to have forgotten them already because he's such a great football quarterback.
I am a football fan, and I think that should be mentioned here. I became an NFL fan in fall 2004, when I was in love with a man who loved football, and I wanted to be interesting to him. I'm from Indiana, so I could pretend to be a long-time Colts fan, and since they were a successful, winning team, I looked like I knew something about football.
I have come to enjoy watching and following football. The guy isn't around anymore, but the fanhood stayed. There are Sundays (pre-baby) where I didn't move from my couch except to open another beer or pay the pizza guy because there were interesting games on.
I'm a true Colts fan now, really an NFL fan, not just pretending to be one to impress some guy. I watch ESPN shows for football highlights, I record PTI to watch after the Wee One goes to bed, I check highlights on my phone now. So I'm not an outsider here, criticizing a football player without understanding anything about the game.
In yesterday's Louisville Courier-Journal, an article about how he's acting so humble, with such hubris, that we should all give him a break. (I'm looking for the link, perhaps it was only in the print edition. It appears to be an edited version of this column by Scott Shosnick of Bloomberg News.)
On ESPN, a headline telling me that the time to forgive Vick is here.
Ugh. Really? A bunch of male sports writers telling me it's time I forgive?
The ESPN article begins "I'm just not sure what people want Michael Vick to do. Quit football? Return to prison? Drown himself in the same lake where he and his crew used to drown dogs?"
I'll tell you what I want him to do. I want him to take every penny he makes playing a game for a living, and donate it to animal charities. I want him to take his fame and his platform and work diligently, day and night, to educate others that dogfighting is not a sport, it is a torturous crime. I don't want him in the NFL, as a role model for young children. I don't want him playing a game and making large sums of money for a living. If he's going to learn from his mistakes, if he's going to truly try to make amends for his actions and the lives of the animals he took, he can't just do it on his one day off a week from playing football.
At the very least he should be funding the rehabilitation and daily care of all 47 remaining pit bulls for the rest of their lives. The ones he didn't drown.
Later, in the ESPN article, "As if losing $100 million and three years in the prime of his career wasn't steep enough."
No, it wasn't. I'm sorry he lost three years in the prime of his career, these animals lost THEIR LIVES. Even the ones that lived are still not functional as canines.
The author tells us to "press pause" and look at all the things Vick has done. On the football field. Sure, fantastic, he's a great player. But I'm supposed to forgive KILLING INNOCENT ANIMALS just because he can throw a football and run too?
LeBron and MJ tweeted and texted to congratulate Vick on a great game. So this author asks, "Does that make LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady all dog haters, too?"
Are you kidding me? Where did you take classes in rational thought dude? Seriously? Someone congratulates him on a well-played game and you're going to ask if they're all "dog haters" too? What kind of line do you see that connects those two dots? Of course they're not dog haters. They didn't hold an animals head underwater while it was thrashing and holding onto life. HE DID.
THAT is what makes him a "dog hater". His prowess on the field, however remarkable, will always be beside the point.
Your rationalization for why I should forgive him is that LeBron, MJ, and Brady didn't kill dogs?
I can, and do, admire how the man has remade himself, as the article suggests. It is amazing that someone that spent time in prison - less than two years, I believe, but still - managed to rocket himself to the top of the NFL. I don't doubt that took a great amount of courage and work. Yes, we should respect him for what he is doing.
Just because he gets to just move on, that doesn't mean the rest of us have to be expected to stop talking about the heinous things he has done, because HE DID THEM. And to some of us, the money and the prison time and the repentant words and the one-day-a-week talking to kids just isn't enough.