Monday, August 27, 2007

Another chance for Vick?

I believe a person deserves a second chance. God knows all of us have made our share of mistakes. As I say during my sermons, but for the grace of God.

Second chances come after cheating on a spouse, a divorce, getting caught with drugs, theft and, yes, training dogs to attack one another and taking bets. With all the bad press related to Michael Vick, he too deserves a second chance.

The hardest part in forgiving Vick is the stupidity that went into his actions. With all that cash on the table (over 150 million in lost income) it’s hard for most of us to understand and forgive a man stupid enough to allow his homeboys and his obsession with animals at war to jeopardize all of that.

It’s difficult to forgive and to understand why a person who made his way out of the hood could risk all of the comforts that come with the biggest contact in NFL history. Vick was in the process of revolutionizing the way people viewed the quarterback position. He was more than the traditional drop back passer; he was a combo quarterback/running back. He was set to go down in history as the man who had General Managers searching for athletes who brought the same depth to their team.

Vick follows a long list of great athletes, with legendary already posted in the history books, who threw it away for reason hard for us to understand. Pete Rose sold his birthright to the Hall of Fame for a few bets. O.J. Simpson may have done it out of jealously. Mike Tyson did it because-that’s one I will never understand.

Vick did it because of street credibility. There was simply too much hood in him to overcome. A few years back the attention was on his little brother, Marcus, who kept getting in trouble at Virginia Tech. He was finally kicked off the team for kicking another player. The public looked at big brother Mike as the role model Marcus needed to help stir him in the right direction.

Shortly after Marcus kicked his way out of Virginia Tech, Michael made an obscene gesture toward Atlanta fans who heckled the team as it came off the field after a 31-13 loss to New Orleans. Vick apologized profusely, paid a $10,000 team fine and donated another $10,000 to charity.

Then in January, Vick reluctantly surrendered a water bottle to security at Miami International Airport that smelled like marijuana and contained a substance in a hidden compartment. He was not arrested and was allowed to board an AirTran flight that landed in Atlanta.

"We are an organization that prides itself on not having off-the-field issues," Rich McKay, general manager of the Falcons, said at the time of the incident. "I think we have done a pretty good job of bringing the right people in here so we don't have to face these types of issues. We don't like it. We don't accept it. It is not what we want."

The Falcons have every right to be upset. They invested $137 million on Vick. They believed he would be the man to lead them for the next 10 years. They expected him to lead the team on and off the field. Smoking weed, flipping off fans and participating in dog fighting is not what they anticipated.

Not to mention he lied to the owner and commissioner about his participation in the dog fighting ring. His arrogance in this matter makes it difficult for those with young children to forgive. We trusted him by embracing his bad boy image. He proved, we thought, that there’s a place in the NFL for a brother to hold onto his street ways while leading a team with credibility.

What is my message to Michael Vick? We’re mad at you. Mad because you have let us down. We believed in you, stood by you, embraced your hip-hop image and desire to keep it real. We fought for the legitimacy of that image. We saw it as a way to educate others on the good that can come out of embracing that culture.

Vick has legitimized what many already felt. Despite all of that money and status as a true role model, he threw it all away for his street ways. That is difficult to forgive. He broke laws. He carried weed on a plane, raised dogs to kill and watched them fight

I could argue that it’s no worse than deer hunting or bull fighting. I could stand in defense of Vick by correlating his actions to those perceived as valid sporting games. I could do that, but this issue goes much deeper than any of that. This is not about the race of the man or the duplicity of the system. This is about a man's willingness to throw it all away for his right to play by his own rules.

Yes, he deserves another chance, but I’m still angry. With all the people in the world who suffer due to lack, he tossed it all away for reason hard to understand. He took it all for granted and now must suffer the consequences of his actions. Be it because of his friends or be it because of his own weakness, it is hard to forgive walking away from all of that.

With that being said, he deserves a second-forgive me-a fourth chance.

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