It’s funny sometimes how news travels.
There I was, sitting on a short stack of chips at a poker tournament in Atlantic City last week, when word started circulating throughout the room that the Philadelphia Eagles had just signed Michael Vick to a two-year contract. There were some laughs and comments from the various New York Giants and Washington Redskins fans, and some groans and indignation from the Eagles fans.
I enjoyed the show and really got a chuckle when a new dealer sat down at our table and said he just saw that it was confirmed on ESPN that Vick had indeed signed with the Eagles. One Eagles fan at our table was visibly mad, and a Giants fan sitting next to me started laughing. “Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about the Eagles now,” he said. “They’re done now.”
I nodded my head in agreement — more because I didn’t feel much like engaging this guy in conversation than out of any shared belief in the Eagles’ impending doom. I was relieved when the Eagles fan began talking to him about the situation. Relieved because I had escaped said conversation, and relieved because the argument would continue and I had a good seat to watch.
“This will kill our locker room,” said Eagles guy. “The team’s going to be divided, and we’re going to have a rotten year.”
To my utter joy, the dealer jumped in and opined that it could help the Eagles. His theory was that Vick would be on his best behavior, the threat of Vick on the roster would push current quarterback Donovan McNabb to perform better and that Vick’s athleticism and speed give the team a playmaker who could steal them a win or two this year.
Predictably, this stirred up emotions and I was preparing myself for the sheer pleasure of watching people argue.
But after a few minutes of verbal volleys, it stopped. The dealer went back to dealing, the players went back to playing and the guy next to me went back to annoying me. It was as if the entire room had already grown accustomed to Vick being on the Eagles and had gone back to their lives.
I wondered to myself if that would be the general reaction by society itself — would people get upset initially by the news that an admitted dog-killer and the head of an operation that existed solely to fight dogs received a contract to play in the NFL, only to move on once something else got their attention.
I surmised that it would.
We do that, don’t we? We jump on things, or people, that do or say things we find appalling, only to forget it when another person or thing says or does something deplorable. We are a society built on the premise of instant gratification, and things become very old news when the “next big thing” comes along.
Look, I’m probably in the minority on this whole Michael Vick thing. I feel as if he paid his debt to society and should be allowed a second chance in life. Yes, I will never like the guy, or root for him as I did when I lived in Atlanta and he played for the Falcons, but I feel as if he deserves a shot at fixing his life. One shot, mind you.
And the slightest deviation from normal human behavior or a hint that he was not going to work actively to stop dog-fighting operations should result in his immediate ejection from the Eagles and NFL for life.
Or, maybe they should start a human-fighting operation in prisons that could generate money via pay-per-view and put low-life degenerates at the same risk as those dogs who...
But I digress.
This is about a second chance for Vick. It’s about affording a guy an opportunity that he did not afford those dogs. It’s about showing that we are a forgiving society, but not one that forgives the same patterns of behavior over and over again. It’s about retribution and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
What it’s not about is a free pass. Vick will get booed by many, and he should. As I wrote earlier, I have disdain for Vick and will not be won over by his exploits on the field, or any volunteer work he does in his off-time.
I like that he got signed by the Eagles — a team with an adamant fan base that will boisterously jump on Vick every chance they get, and a city full of eyes on his every move when he’s away from the Eagles facility.
Yes, I dislike Michael Vick now. I want him to face verbal abuse from fans, and I want him to have to earn the right to stay in the NFL. But I do feel he’s paid his debt, and should play.
I just didn’t want him playing for my Baltimore Ravens.