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Jets Crash

As bad as that blowout the Giants suffered at Atlanta was, the Jets' loss to the Titans was worse.

As horrible as that Jets' 7-6 win over Arizona was, the loss to the Titans was worse.

A hideous game. Too hideous to write about.

And the aftermath is even worse. Sanchez to be traded? (Who would want him? He leads the league in turnovers, and his salary and cap figure are through the roof. What would they offer, a bag of used jockstraps?) Tebow wants out. (Who could blame him?) And next season, the rumor mill insists, Gang Green may start over again with...

.... Michael Vick.

Michael Fucking Vick.

No, thank you. I don't want Michael Vick on my team. If he comes here, I guess I root only for the Giants until the Dogkiller departs.

I guess I have only one shred of hope left to cling to. Maybe this Greg McElroy kid is the new Tom Brady. Yeah, he's a seventh round pick, but Brady was a sixth rounder. Maybe McElroy is the real deal...

Or maybe the horse will talk.



James Rutledge Roesch
Dec. 21st, 2012 12:08 am (UTC)
Redemption Over Revenge
I understand how you feel. What Michael Vick did to dogs was despicable, a truly horrifying crime against innocent animals. At first, I felt as appalled as you. As a dog lover myself, I swore undying hatred to a quarterback who was already the bane of my NFC South. I simply could not fathom what kind of person - other than a Ramsay Bolton, maybe - could treat another living creature with such utter malice. In time, however, I found that forgiving Vick was not only the compassionate thing to do, but also a practical way to help make the world a better place.

After the "Bad Newz Kennels" was exposed, Vick lost his promising job, went completely bankrupt, was imprisoned for almost two years of his life, and suffered more public scorn than perhaps any other athlete in the history of the National Football League, if not all of professional sports. What other athlete has had pundits call for his summary execution? Now, his life having been ruined - and rightly so; he got what he deserved - Vick is trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild. I respect his perseverance in the face of overwhelming adversity from bitter ex-fans, teams rightly concerned about protecting their brand, and countless other people and organizations who could not care less about football but who loathe dog fighting and animal cruelty.

While Vick was imprisoned, he sought out the counsel of Tony Dungy. Dungy, after assessing Vick's priorities (he needed to be sure that Vick was genuinely penitent), began visiting and mentoring him in prison, helping him reconnect with the lost faith of his younger years. When Vick was released from prison, Dungy vouched for his character to NFL teams who were considering him. In the end, it was Dungy and Donovan McNabb who convinced Jeff Lurie and Andy Reid to give Vick another chance in Philadelphia. Dungy even wrote a foreword to Vick's autobiography, for goodness' sake!

Dungy, the NFL's closest thing to a conscience (sorry Bob Costas), is a man whose opinion should carry some weight. Dungy's philanthropy has persisted beyond his days as a coach in Tampa and Indianapolis, and he remains deeply involved with charities like "Family First" and the "Boys and Girls Club" to this day. Dungy knows Vick better than any of us, and if he trusts him and is willing to attest that he is a changed man, surely that counts for something. Just as there is more to Jaime Lannister's story than being an "oathbreaker" or "kingslayer," there is more to Vick's story than just being a "Dogkiller."

In the end - opinions about Vick, dog fighting, and animal cruelty aside - what is a more inspiring message to the world? Someone who has fallen from grace rising above his failures to become a better man, or someone who has fallen from grace thwarted from rising above his failures and condemned to a life of misery? Personally, I want to live in a world in which people are encouraged to overcome their past sins, seek forgiveness, and redeem themselves, not a world in which anyone who has ever done something wrong - and we all fall short - is eternally damned. The former sends a message of hope, the latter, despair. The latter is not even human, for learning from our mistakes is an essential part of life. Without the chance to fall down and try again, the world would be an awfully cruel place. Granted, Vick "fell down" horrendously, but that is what would make his comeback an even more inspiring example.

Where would Jaime Lannister - the wildly popular anti-hero who readers first meet shoving an innocent child to what he believes will be his death for the offense of catching him in the act of incest with his twin sister - be without the possibility of redemption and forgiveness? A character cannot start at a much deeper deficit than Jaime, yet in the course of the story he has grown far more than anyone ever anticipated. We should follow Brienne's example, not Lady Stoneheart's.

If nothing else, Vick should be commended for trying against all odds. It is not as if Vick is getting away with murder. Even if this injury-crushing season is not his last, Vick's fame and fortune will always be a shadow of what they once were.

I love dogs, but I love human compassion, the hope of redemption, and the promise of a better world more.

Edited at 2012-12-21 12:16 am (UTC)
Dec. 21st, 2012 12:21 am (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
I do believe in redemption and I do believe in forgiveness... under the right circumstances.

But I am not convinced that Vick has actually changed. I think it is all a show. I think he is doing and saying the things he was told that he had to do and say to get back in the NFL.

I have listened to his apologies. He talks about being sorry, about having let down his family, his friends, his teammates, the organization, the owner, and so on, and so forth. He apologizes to all of them.

He never says a word about the dogs.

He is sorry he got caught, yeah. He is sorry he went to prison. He is sorry he lost millions of dollars. And he may even be genuinely sorry that he hurt his family and the Atlanta Falcons and a coach and owner who believed in him. But honestly, I don't give a fig if he disappointed Arthur Blank. It's the dogs that trouble me, and he never talks about that. That leads me to believe his repentence is an inch deep, that he does not truly get it.

You may believe otherwise. Unless we can read minds/ souls, we will never know the truth.

Mind you, I am not saying that Vick should be killed or sent back to prison. He went to jail, he paid his "debt to society," he's out, fine.

That does not mean I want him on my team.

That does not mean I have to cheer for him.

Edited at 2012-12-21 12:23 am (UTC)
James Rutledge Roesch
Dec. 21st, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
I agree that Vick's feelings of regret for failing his family, friends, fans, and the Falcons are beside the point. Of course, I am glad he is sorry for how his actions affected others - particularly the young fans who held him in high esteem as a role model - but care most about the dogs who suffered. Thankfully, Vick has mentioned the dogs in some of his apologies, but he has made so many apologies at so many different venues to so many different people that sometimes it seems like he is neglecting what matters the most: the actual victims of his crimes.

For instance, two days after his 60 Minutes interview on CBS (in which he also apologizes for dogfighting), Vick issued a written apology focusing solely on the dogs. "What I did was horrendous. Awful. Inhumane." I quote Vick at length:

"Sitting in a prison cell didn't make me feel remorse. It was meeting so many animal lovers, speaking with them and looking them in their eyes. Staring at them. Looking so deep into their eyes that I began to feel their pain.
"Allowing that pain to enter into my body is when I started to understand how bad it really was. I have been trying hard to connect with people who feel this pain, because for my whole life I was disconnected from the suffering of animals.
"And you might say, 'come on Mike, how could you do those things to those dogs?' And you're right... I ask myself those questions every day. What kind of person does this? How does a human-being treat dogs or any animal with pain and cruelty?
"The hard part for me is the answer to these questions. Because the answer is ME.
"I am trying so hard to be a better person, because who I was, I am ashamed of."

Upon his release from prison, Vick made a pledge to the Humane Society to deliver speeches denouncing dogfighting in at least two cities every month for the next decade (that's at least 240 total speeches against dogfighting). Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, and New Haven are a few of the places where Vick has already spoken that come to mind, but there are many more. Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of the Humane Society, "Michael Vick admits that what he did to dogs was cruel and barbaric, but now that he has served his time, he wants to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” Far from merely apologizing for his dogfighting, Vick has dedicated himself to making a difference - words matched by deeds.


To me, Vick’s sorrow goes deeper than just being “sorry he got caught.” At the 2010 Athletes in Action Superbowl Breakfast, Dungy shared that his mentoring relationship with Vick is still ongoing, and that they continue to have weekly discussions about Vick’s progress. When asked about Vick’s sincerity, Dungy replied, “I certainly wouldn’t have gone to Andy Reid and Jeff Lurie and said, ‘Hey, I really believe in this guy,’ if I didn’t see that in eyes, that he really did want to come out and be a positive force in society.” Similarly the Humane Society’s website explains that, “Over the course of several face-to-face meetings and during public appearances, Vick has apologized and acknowledged the suffering he caused to animals. He has expressed his remorse and his desire to help more animals than he harmed by being an advocate for the humane treatment of animals. We only agreed to give [Vick] an opportunity to speak with kids if he was committed to the goal of ending dogfighting and to publicly acknowledging that his past actions were cruel and unacceptable.” Both Dungy and the Humane Society plainly stated that they would not have publicly endorsed and partnered with Vick unless they believed he was sincere.

Between his written apology, his long-term commitments, and his vote of confidence from Dungy and the Humane Society, Vick does not sound like someone feigning penitence just to get back in the game for more money.

All the same, I empathize with your position. I felt the exact same way once, and even though my feelings have changed since then, I cannot fault anyone for struggling to believe or forgive Vick. I have not forgotten what Vick did, but I do forgive him for it, and hope that his example serves as an inspiration to anyone with demons to overcome.

Edited at 2012-12-21 04:13 am (UTC)
Dec. 21st, 2012 05:00 am (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
You present your position eloquently, and I cannot find any fault with your principles. I admire your compassion and your capacity for forgiveness.

I still do not want Vick on my team, however.

Dec. 21st, 2012 10:37 am (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
On strictly a football level, I think Colin Cowherd stated it well when he said that Vick is a QB that, over his career, hasn't improved his game. He has relied on his speed and footwork which has now started to slow, but hasn't improved his passing ability nor his leadership abilities.

Regardless of what anybody thinks of Vick as a person, the bottom line is that he is no longer a viable option as a starting quarterback. I believe a large part of the argument, besides Vick's atrocities, is that the Jets have been a circus and adding Vick only adds to that circus atmosphere/mentality. I think the Jets would be much more rewarded by pursuing Kirk Cousins from Washington or Matt Flynn from Seattle.
Jeff Leahul
Dec. 21st, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
Judge Chamberlain Haller: Mr. Gambini?
Vinny Gambini: Yes, sir?
Judge Chamberlain Haller: That is a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out objection.
Vinny Gambini: Thank you, Your Honor.
Judge Chamberlain Haller: [firm tone] Overruled.

From My Cousin Vinny, via IMDB
Dec. 21st, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
I feel as you. I don't find anything truly remorseful in his words. He strikes me as a man who is sorry he got caught and had to pay for it. Nothing else.
Jose Sarmento
Dec. 21st, 2012 10:30 am (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
We are capable of changing habits and routines, conforming to laws and social behavior, and generally adapting to whatever Fate throws in our way... but at the core, people do not,
do NOT,

Whatever principal values (or lack thereof), virtues, and faults define us as we go into adulthood stay with us for life. There's no way to change our nature.

In other words, there may be atonement, but there' no redemption.
Dec. 21st, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
THIS. Oh man, I've been trying to sum up my feelings on his "repentance" for years and never quite getting there. Thanks for doing it for me. :) (Always trust a professional to get the words right!)
Dec. 22nd, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
Good point George, he never said anything about being sorry about what he did to the dogs. And everyone seems to forget all his "sincere" apologies for the embarrassment he caused his college team at Virginia Tech for his behavior there that finally ended up in his getting kicked off the team. He took his sincere apologies and created the bad newz kennels. Redemption? Sure. the spotlight on TV on Sunday? I don't think so.
As you say, 'nuff said.
Dec. 21st, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
Re: Redemption Over Revenge
I live outside Philadelphia. I see more Michael Vick interviews than the normal person. He has surprised me as far as his leadership skills and relation with the media.

I was never a fan of Vick as a QB, he was always in my opinion an ESPN highlight reel with no chance of bringing a team a Lombardi trophy. He's too small, too injury prone, and not intelligent enough to outsmart opposing defenses on a consistent basis.

Like George, I believe his attempt at redemption is a facade for the public. If he was truly sorry he would of stopped before he was caught.

He could always give away $99 million of his $100 mill contract to help the the abused animals in this country. I laugh at the money he gives to charities, all they are is tax right off's.

Also he has local endorsment deals that add more to his net income. The rest of the country won't see the dog killer doing anymore Nike commercials, but in the Delaware Valley he tells us to go buy Nissan's.

Edited at 2012-12-21 05:30 am (UTC)


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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