From my point of view, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell should reinstate Vick immediately after his two-month home confinement is over so that he may play in the NFL as soon as his sentence is over. Now I understand the severity of Vick’s actions in funding the dogfighting ring. It truly was disgusting. Of course it is debatable on whether or not Vick’s prison sentence was harsh enough for the crime. Maybe his sentence was too harsh? Maybe not harsh enough? That is not up for me to debate. It was up to a federal judge and he or she did debate it, set the sentence and now, Vick has paid his time under our legal system. Vick still has a rights and certainly a right to work.
(I wonder if Vick would have faced the same scrutiny from animal rights activists and good-hearted people if he was busted running a cockfighting ring? Cockfighting was finally outlawed in Louisiana and New Mexico in 2007, the last two states to do so. Same scrutiny? Less? I would imagine it would be less because roosters aren’t in 70 percent of Americans’ daily lives as their “best friends,” but I think it brings up an interesting thought nonetheless.)
Goodell should trust what the legal system has already handed down to Vick, and reinstate him. The world isn’t going to stop watching the NFL because you let Vick back in after a two-season prison hiatus. Goodell has a tough decision ahead of him, but I don’t think it will be as tough as the NFL team owners who decides to hire Vick. Whatever city the team is in, there will be a public outcry and a loss of fan base (although I don’t think it will be much) when Vick puts on that city’s uniform. The owner who decides to take Vick will be ostracized, no doubt.
Already, Vick’s former boss, Atlanta Falcon owner Arthur Blank, has said that Vick has paid his time and that he should be reinstated into the NFL.
“There is no question Michael has paid his debt to society,” Blank told The New York Times. “Clearly, based on what happened over a number of years, a lot of issues were related to acts he has to take responsibility for, and I believe he has.”
Owners like Blank will undoubtedly face scrutiny by animal rights activists, who have promised, in hundreds of letters to the editor and on talk radio shows, that if an owner brings Vick to their city to play football, they will hand in their season tickets. Is this an idle threat or will there actually be a pouring in of season ticket holders who refuse to watch Vick play? Do animal rights activists watch NFL football? Team owners will have to decide whether or not they need Vick badly enough to take the heat.
If I were lucky enough to be an owner in this situation and I either needed a quarterback or a slot receiver, Vick would be my man for next season, assuming Goodell reinstates him. I would have a sit-down with Vick and tell him I am willing to take him on a conditional basis that if I hired him, he is to keep is mouth closed at all times, to work hard and to not be a flashy player. At any time, I could fire him for being that player. (See definition of Terrell Owens or “Ocho Cinco” for instance.) I would do this because of the risk I am taking by hiring him and that I believe his character is good and that he can prove he is not the monster he is currently seen as.
Frankly, I think Vick is going to be good. He will be focused on doing well and working hard. He knows that he has un uphill battle to win over the hearts of fans, he will be great on the field if he gets to play again. Like aging football players, he only has a small window to play, so for Vick’s sake, he is hoping to get reinstated into the NFL as soon as possible.
Because Vick is a public icon or a role model for young players, there are those who believe he should never be allowed to play in the NFL again. That it is a privilege, not a right to play in the NFL. I believe that is wrong. Vick can still be a role model for others who have made mistakes and have had to pay for them. Vick, with his popularity, can make a good impression on the youth. That has not been lost completely and not yet fully realized. He can help animal rights organizations fight animal cruelty. He can be the example of screwing up and turning your life around for the better.