A release date.
May 20th, 2009. Mike Vick was released from prison for his heinous acts of fighting dogs and killing them. And also, in my mind, for helping to perpetrate the stereotype against pit bulls, though, last I checked that isn’t a legal offense (regardless of what I think). At any rate, he was out. He did most all the time he was sentenced to, did pretty much the rest of it under house confinement.
He made it clear he wanted to play football again. I was incensed. He wanted to PLAY football again. How dare he? Yes, he’s a football player. That was his profession before going to jail and the argument was that he should be able to do it after. An accountant who goes to jail for dog-fighting can come out of jail and go back to being an accountant… a carpenter could go back to being a carpenter… but the fact that THIS man wanted to come back and play football outraged me.
He said he was sorry and changed? Fine, go get a job as a high school football coach or even a college assistant coach, whatever… but don’t think you can come back on the football field as a player and have the opportunity to earn millions of dollars after what you did. No, sir.
I couldn’t even imagine a team that would be willing to take on the fan backlash of signing this guy. I couldn’t think of a team that would touch him with a 10-ft-pole and risk that kind of outcry from the people who ARE the bread and butter of a franchise… the people that pay to come to the games.. buy the merchandise… and buy the concessions. I couldn’t even imagine…
August 14th, 2009 – The day Michael Vick signed a 2 year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. MY Philadelphia Eagles. I will admit, I sat down and cried. Literally. I yelled for a few minutes. Said some things my mother wouldn’t be proud of. And then sat down on the couch… and cried. How… why… I knew someone, some team would give him a chance. But why here? Why us? Why MY team? It was the “not in my back yard” mentality. I was.. devastated.
Looking at him in an Eagles uniform made me sick. When I saw him, all I could see were the pictures of the ravaged dogs. And the knowledge coming forward again and again in my mind of the countless others already buried in his backyard. Honestly, there are times, that’s still all I can see when I look at him.
I was faced with a huge decision. And I know non-sports people don’t get this. But for several months… most of the 2009-10 season, actually, I battled with myself. I tried to reason with myself and I cursed myself every Sunday I found myself getting excited about the game… and held myself in contempt when game time found my butt on the couch ready to watch the players do battle..
I was bleeding Eagles green and white long before Michael Vick got here and I will continue to long after he’s left. I can’t change it. I can’t hide from it. And I won’t pretend to not be excited when he completes those amazing passes to break open a game or when he runs for 30 yards and you can visibly see the competition deflate.
I’ve watched him for the past two years and while in my heart I KNOW he’d still be fighting dogs if he didn’t get caught. Is probably only sorry BECAUSE he got caught. And for all I know may do it again someday? He’s doing the right things now. He’s acting the right way now. He’s leading this team in a way we haven’t seen for over a decade. And judge me for it, if you must, but I’m glad he’s here. I’m glad he’s turned his life around. I’m glad to see what 18 months in prison did. I think… or I HOPE it gave him some perspective, showed him a little something of what matters in life and the sacrifices that come with taking the wrong road.
And it may be naive of me… but when he thinks of what matters… and the sacrifices made at his own hand… I don’t think it’s dollars that come to his mind.
I’m sure I’m being idealistic…
but it’s hard to argue with a girl, her heart and Sundays in the Fall.