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Michael Vick Won’t Walk My Dogs

08.17.09

Okay, let’s just admit something off the bat: Michael Vick will never be the president of the American Humane Society.  But does that mean that he shouldn’t be allowed to play in the NFL again?

A lot of people truly hate Vick for his involvement in an illegal dogfighting ring.  They don’t think he should ever be able to play in the NFL again.   I do find his crimes to be despicable, but I don’t understand why Vick shouldn’t be able to make an NFL roster now that he’s paid his debt to society by serving nearly two years in federal prison.  Nevermind that the NFL is acting at least partially out of self-interest in allowing the former Falcons quarterback to rejoin the league – Vick will put fans in the stands and money in their pockets – I think more employers should follow its lead.

Two of the more frustrating requirements of applying for jobs (I should know since that’s been all I’ve been doing lately) are the spots on the application where the employer asks if you’re a convicted felon and where they say that they’ll want to do a credit check.  I am already having a tough enough time finding work and I’m a college graduate with a clean criminal record.  I can’t begin to imagine what the job search would be like otherwise.  (I’m not even going to start with the notion that I could be refused a job due to bad credit.)  It seems that our society enjoys finding ways to keep people in prison long after they’re released.

Vick is definitely luckier than others of his ilk in that his unique skill set makes him a very attractive employee regardless of his marred criminal record.  Most felons don’t have that luxury.  But reading and hearing about all of the people who don’t think that Vick should have another chance playing professional football makes me wonder if maybe most people think that way about all felons who try to return to their chosen profession.

Had Vick committed a crime that threatened his credibility to continue in that chosen profession, like Pete Rose betting on baseball or an accountant embezzling from his employer, then I could get behind the uproar.  But it seems that it’s simply because of the unsavory nature of the crime he committed.

I don’t believe that prison time did anything to rehabilitate Vick in terms of feeling sorry for brutally killing dogs for sport.  He said so himself.  But since we are putting people in prison as punishment, then we should honor and accept when said punishment has been completed.  Vick went to prison.  He served his time.  He’s not a child molester trying to get another job as a teacher.  And he’s not trying to open his own dog kennel.  He’s just like many other felons who broke the law, paid their price, and now should be able to reenter society and get back to work.

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3 comments

  1. Dude – I get what you’re saying, but I just can’t get behind Michael Vick being allowed back in the NFL. He participated in a heinous activity (his crew not only allowed dogs to fight to the death, but also drowned and hung dogs) and has shown little remorse. True, the nature of his crime may not be directly related to his employment. However, it sort of is. NFL quarterbacks (really, most any NFL player) are heros to many, both young and old. To a certain extent, the very nature of their celebrity holds them to a higher standard than the rest of society. You may argue this is untrue or unfair, that the did not sign up to be a role model, but here me out. As a nurse, there is a clause in my license about morality. If I am convicted of a crime, such as DWI, I could potentially lose not just my job, but my license to practice nursing entirely. Does drinking or driving have anything to do with nursing – um, not really. But according to society, the very nature of my job makes me have to answer to a higher standard than most. Just like I think Michael Vick should. Do I believe convicted felons should be allowed to serve their time and them move on with their lives. Absolutely. Do I think convicted felons should have their faces plastered on posters and have little kids wearing T-shirts with their names on it? Nope. Michael Vick has been given many gifts in this life – both by nature and by society. Yet he abused them. He should not be condemned (i.e. he should be able to live his life as a free man) but I don’t think he should be celebrated either.


    • I would argue that the morality clause in your nursing license would go along with my argument about how Vick’s crime doesn’t affect the ability or credibility to still perform within his field of work, whereas when you’re working in the health industry and you make choices that endanger lives instead of save them, I think we’re talking about apples and oranges. You don’t need to be a good person to play football. I’d like to think you would need to care about living things to be a good nurse. Whether or not we should have morality clauses in employment contracts is a topic for another discussion.

      Vick might be a role model to some – hopefully less of a role model than more of a cautionary tale and eventually one of redemption – but he’s not in the business of saving lives or teaching children. Thankfully, because I wouldn’t want him to instruct my kids, so I suppose there are certain professions that one would have to forfeit upon being convicted of a felony. I just don’t think being an NFL player is one of them. Just like there was that crazy uproar over Michael Phelps smoking pot and losing a bunch of his sponsors, I think this situation is more indicative of the problem our society has in idolizing our sports figures and immediately assuming that they are equally perfect as humans as they are athletes.

      (Disclaimer: I don’t mean to equalize pot smoking with dog killing, either. I think Phelps’ infraction harmed no one and was just part of a moral crusade. Vick’s crime was heinous and grotesque.)


  2. And perhaps I should edit my long, self-righteous comments before I post ’em, huh?! Sheesh!



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