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Michael Vick: Pro Bowl Captain

Robert Franklin

Posted on December 11, 2019 21:36

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Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick's naming as an honorary captain during January's Pro Bowl game has once-again brought controversy to the dogged National Football League. But this time, the attention is undeserved.

The NFL has once again created a firestorm of controversy, this time in regard to one of its selected captains for the upcoming Pro Bowl. Alongside former Broncos running back Terrell Davis, Washington cornerback Darrell Green, and Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, Vick will serve as a "mentor" during the upcoming exhibition game.

It's an honor, though one that Joanna Lind, who started a Change.org petition to have Vick removed from the game, does not feel he deserves.

Lind, like many, believes that Mike Vick's past with dogfighting should exclude him from the event.

I do not agree.

For context: Michael Vick, former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, pled guilty in 2007 to financing and participating in dogfights staged by the "Bad Newz Kennels" interstate dogfighting ring. He served 18 months of a 23-month sentence at Leavenworth.

Since his release, however, he has done a complete one-eighty, working closely with animal rights groups (including the Humane Society of the United States) and advocating for legislation that further criminalized participation in illegal animal fighting. He specifically lobbied for the passage of H.R. 2492, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which would have allowed for knowing spectators of illegal animal fights to be brought up on federal charges.

To me, Mike Vick has atoned for his past. He did his time, he worked to rehabilitate himself, he learned the error of his ways, and now he has contributed positively to society. In football, he clawed his way back into the league and proved that he could still play, at least for a while.

I don't see a problem with Vick being honored by the league. I think his contributions to the game justify his participation in the event. I think the shedding of his former skin to sport a cleaner, more prosocial image even checks the boxes one would reserve for personal conduct becoming of a professional athlete.

Pre-prison Michael Vick and post-prison Michael Vick might as well be two different Michael Vick's, and that's part of the reason why I cannot support a petition like the one published and promoted by Joanna Lind.

But more than that, I think Lind's petition is just another example of the vengeful attitude too many Americans have when it comes to felons. It's the idea that someone who committed crimes in the past cannot outrun the specter of their transgressions, even when they obviously, like Vick, work hard to do so.

Michael Vick is convicted felon, yes. He abused, tormented, and financed the torture of dogs. But that Michael Vick did not leave Leavenworth. That Michael Vick did not donate his time and his money and his brand to the awareness and advocacy of anti-dogfighting interest groups and legislation designed to further denigrate the practice. That Michael Vick did not receive a second-chance from the NFL.

That Michael Vick does not deserve to be an honorary captain at the upcoming Pro Bowl. However, this Michael Vick does.

Robert Franklin

Posted on December 11, 2019 21:36

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