Let me preface this by saying what Michael Vick did was absolutely, 100 percent dead wrong.
The way Vick and his “friends” tortured animals at the appropriately named Bad Newz Kennels for their perverted sport and entertainment is beyond comprehensible.
But Vick is out of prison and has, by the judgment set down upon him, paid his assigned debt to society.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he wants to see good behavior and contrition from Vick after his sentence expires, which happened yesterday when he was taken off electronic monitoring by probation officers.
Gooddell could conceivably make Vick cool his heels until 2010 rather than give him the green light in the next few weeks so he could hook up with a team in training camp before the season.
The bottom line is Vick should be allowed to play.
I’ll refer to Matthew 18:21-35 as a reference point and let the commentary fall where it may.
Vick isn’t in the same boat as any number of athletes who run afoul of the law, get a comparative slap on the wrist, get suspended and/or fined and move on. He’s been prosecuted, convicted and served time in federal prison, all, again, he more than deserved.
And to think there won’t be multiple teams vying for his services is naïve.
At 29, even with skills rusted by his incarceration, he will be in high demand. If you don’t think it’s possible, look at a 40-year-old quarterback with skills rusted by age, a.k.a. Brett Favre, and the constant fawning over him sticking it out for another season.
It would be equally naïve for any of Vick’s potential suitors to not write specific behavioral requirements into his contract to see if he can pass muster and soften the blow of the public relations craziness any team who signs him will face.
As talented as Vick was – and maybe still is – I’ve always felt he’s somewhat overrated.
My perception is admittedly skewed by a single-digit temperature Chicago evening in 2005 when I saw Vick do little but run out of bounds and throw incomplete passes in a loss to the Bears. His running game and freelancing are clearly meant for a dome or a warm climate.
That being said, if the coldest of outdoor cold-weather teams, such as the New England Patriots or Green Bay Packers, deemed Vick’s services necessary, they’d sign him in a heartbeat.
Say what you want, but talent almost invariably outstrips character in professional sports. That’s why we celebrate – and rightly so — guys like Albert Pujols and Peyton Manning who let nothing but their incredible God-given talents speak for themselves.
Vick’s behavior shows he isn’t in the same league as Pujols and Manning, for example, in the realm of being an upstanding citizen. But it also doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be afforded the opportunity to play and garner whatever forgiveness he gets, all which falls short of how God will ultimately judge him.