Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kill Dogs and Earn Million Dollar Deal; Eagles Say Yes!

As a football fanatic and an animal rights activist, I was hoping I would never have to utter the words Michael Vick and the NFL in the same sentence ever again. I publicly professed that I would lose all respect for any team who found it acceptable to sign Vick, even my beloved New York Jets. The Philadelphia Eagles, however, gave me another good reason to detest them when they decided to sign Vick for a one-year deal for $1.6 million with a team option for a second year for $5.2 million. Since then, I’ve spent the better part of the past week listening to the media, considering all sides of the argument, hearing Mike Vick speak in his own defense, and debating the issue with family, co-workers and fellow commuters.

Michael Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting operation and for cruelty to animals, pleading guilty to killing dogs because they wouldn’t fight. I’ll repeat that- he killed dogs who refused to fight. By his own hands- and admission- he hung them, drowned them and electrocuted them. Vick first lied about it and finally came clean once the evidence was stacked against him. He was made to serve time in jail. Does this man now belong back in the National Football League?

Many continue to make the main argument that Michael Vick has served his time and now deserves a second chance. I am a firm believer in second chances; that anyone who has served time for a crime deserves to be employed again, even be able to vote, so as not to fall back into repeating past bad behaviors. What I find objectionable, however, is the notion that someone who has committed a crime- and such a heinous one at that- deserves to be immediately reinstated into such a high-profile league as the NFL making millions of dollars a year. There are plenty of upstanding men who would give anything to play in the NFL.

Michael Vick is in a very delicate transitional phase where he has to prove himself. While I believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should have required that Vick demonstrate himself as a worthy animal advocate before allowing him back into the league, Vick stands to be a beneficial campaigner against dog fighting, especially in Philadelphia where, similar to his upbringing, many children are raised to tolerate and participate in the cruel treatment of animals. One specific dog, Etana, was beaten and burned alive by children in 2007. (In that particular case, a sports player came to the aid of an animal; Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and his wife Jennifer paid for all of Etana’s medical expenses.) There are plenty of adults, too, who wrongly believe that animals, regardless of whether they are dogs, cows, chickens, horses or mice, are ours to do whatever we want to them.

While I wish the best for Michael Vick and trust he is on the right path to begin helping animals rather than harming them, surely he could have earned his second chance as a coach somewhere, or playing with another less renowned, less visible football league in Canada or Europe. To award his cruel and heartless behavior immediately following jail with a million dollar contract in the NFL is a mistake.


Amy said...

I agree, it is a disgrace!!

Michael Prejean said...

Are Michael Vick's actions really any more heinous than those of the millions who ate a Big Mac today?