--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Listen up. Today, The Daddy is feeling Michael Vick, who NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has just "reinstated" into the National Football League. All over the blogosphere, people are talking about what a despicable person Vick is and how this "monster" should not be allowed to play professional football again.
Vick served 23 months for his role in bankrolling a dog fighting operation in Virginia. He served 18 months in the Leavenworth prison in Leavenworth, Texas and the remaining months under house arrest. Under his "reinstatement," Vick will be free to practice with a team and to play the last two games of the preseason, but he will not be able to play the first 6 games of the NFL season.
But here are a few things that need to be understood about Vick's reinstatement. First, to call it a reinstatement is to play with words. Yes, Vick can be selected by a football team to play for them. Yes, Vick can practice with that team. Yes, Vick can even play for the team in the last two pre-season games. However, his "reinstatement" is conditioned on Vick's good behavior as defined by Goodell. So, technically, Vick can practice with a team, play in that team's last two games and still not be allowed to play one regular football game after six weeks. Remember: Goodell said he will reevaluate Vick's status after six weeks.
Second, Vick will not be allowed to play for the first 6 games. In this decision, Goodell is doing two things: (a) He is ensuring that Vick will not become a public relation nightmare for the NFL in the beginning of the season. In other words, he does not want the season to begin with animal right's organization picketing NFL ball games that Vick would be playing in. (b) He is straight up punishing Vick and, by doing so, using him to send a stern message to other NFL players that he will deal with any negative behavior off the field in a harsh manner.
From a public relations point of view, denying Vick the ability to play for the first one or two games makes sense. However, denying him the ability to earn a living for six full games is too punitive. Like him or not, felon or not, Vick still deserves a chance to earn a paycheck and to become a productive citizen of society.
By denying Vick the ability to play for six weeks, by denying him the ability to make a paycheck for six weeks in the work that he (Vick) loves and is good at, Goodell is piling six weeks on top of the 23 months Vick has already served. In effect, Goodell's decision is not a conditional reinstatement so much as a punitive six week suspension.
Vick has been pushed enough. First he served his time in prison (And for those who think that 18 months in prison is not enough, try staying one week in one. You'll change your mind). Vick was once worth 25 million. Now he has nothing. Vick has lost all credibility with NFL, which once viewed him as a marketing gold mine and cash cow. Worst of all, he has lost all credibility with NFL fans, especially youth, who once viewed him as perhaps their greatest hero ever. This is not to play the violin for Vick. In The Daddy's opinion, he deserved it. But it is to say that he has obviously been humbled by this experience. But what about us?
How understanding are we? How empathetic are we? Sure, we are a "Christian" nation, but how forgiving are we? After a person serves the time for a crime, are we so angry, so numb to the plight of a "son of God" as to say, "That monster should never be allowed to play again?"
Are we "Christians" so in love with our animals and yet so filled with hatred in our hearts for fellow human beings that we dare not say, "Every human being deserves a second chance, even a felon?"
Michael Vick was humbled. What about us?