Thursday, August 13, 2009

Seriously: You Should Probably Get Out of Here

So the Philadelphia Eagles have just signed Michael Vick to a contract for the upcoming season. Just a quick primer for those of you who don't closely follow the glamorous and majestic world of animal pit fighting/death matches: Michael Vick's the former NFL all-pro quarterback who was convicted two years ago of first lynching and then lobbing dead pit bulls into mass burials on his own property. He was also found guilty of orchestrating an underground dog-fighting syndicate. Said Dan Shannon, PETA spokesman, to the Associated Press:

PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Eagles decided to sign a guy who hung dogs from trees. He electrocuted them with jumper cables and held them under water.
In case you were wondering, Vick will be making $1.6 million this season. So here's a breakdown of the average annual salaries for occupations that are critical to the success of a thriving, stable society.

Cool. I just wanted to make sure we still have our priorities in order.

When interviewed, most of Vick's teammates - as well as his head coach - asserted that Vick has "paid his debt to society" and, therefore, deserves a second chance. From Eagles' coach Andy Reid:

I'm a believer that as long as people go through the right process, they deserve a second chance.


Then this, from team captain Donovan McNabb:

I pretty much lobbied to get him here," McNabb said. "I believe in second chances and what better place to get a second chance than here with this group of guys. ... He's no threat to me, not for Kolb. We had the opportunity to add another weapon to our offense.

So irrespective of whether a guy's a convicted murderer, as long as he's a "weapon on offense," it's all good?

That Manson - I know he's had his troubles, but when you have an opportunity to add a weapon on offense like that, you just go for it.

I get it that most professional athletes are coached to speak in unfettered streams of ambiguous cliches when approached by pushy sportswriters seeking a scoop. For the most part, they're probably better off doing so (Even the most eloquent among athletes, such as Derek Jeter, routinely use cliches as handy tools for talking to the media without having to actually say anything.)

But I do think this is a moment in which these guys - namely Reid and McNabb - would be better served by playing the quiet game, as opposed to sounding even more mindless and insensitive than the typical jock. He's paid his debt to society. How? By doing what, exactly? By getting cooped-up with other felons and thugs for the past two years? By increasing his squat max? By being traded on the prison black market for a box of Kool menthols? Has Vick gone out of his way to voluntarily perform public service announcements upon his release? Has he donated a substantial chunk of his NFL or commercial endorsement earnings to PETA or ASPCA? Has he used his notoriety to speak out forcefully against animal abuse - or physical cruelty toward any/all living things?

And then there's Everyone deserves a second chance. Really? Does everyone deserve a second chance, and, more specifically, a second chance that involves making millions and the opportunity to once again reap the adoration of tens of thousands of cheering fans?

So here's my not-so-bold prediction: If Michael Vick returns to the pinnacle of his profession (quaterbacking, not drowning furry animals), I can all but guarantee that he will be celebrated, unabashedly, by media and fans alike. And by the league that has seemingly welcomed him back with open arms. I think a safe estimate for his receiving the NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors would be 2012.

Priorities, people. Priorities.

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Stop the Inanity. by Brock Cohen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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