Let’s Not Christen Michael Vick “St. Mike” Just Yet

No matter what Sports Illustrated has to say about him

Sports Illustrated jumped onto the Michael Vick bandwagon this week with an expose entitled “What Michael Vick Tells Us About Ourselves.”

In the story, Vick recounts his most recent collision with a life-changing experience, the now infamous birthday party in Virginia Beach where a former dog fighting associate, Quanis Phillips, shoved cake into his face. Phillips, who also served prison time in the dog fighting thing — in large part because Vick dimed out his role in it — had crashed the Vick party uninvited. Several minutes after the cake smash, Phillips got capped. [SIGNUP]

In the SI piece, Vick goes on to say that it was the aftermath of that incident, coupled with a solemn lecture from his mother, that finally made him want to go totally straight. And so I guess the headline of the SI story, what Michael Vick tells us about ourselves, can be interpreted as this: if we do something as heinous as killing dogs for the glory of an illegal gambling operation, then serve 19 months in prison, and get a second chance only because of our breathtaking athletic ability, and then take that freedom so for granted that we continue to hang in the same dangerous environmental circles, and have a party that begs for undesirables, and be pulled along into those activities by an idiot brother, and have one of those undesirables pop a cap in someone’s ass in the ultimate show of protectionism machismo, and have our mother show her displeasure for our questionable activities, we should cherish that second chance?

No shit, Sherlock.

Listen, I think the Michael Vick story is a pretty interesting one also. He’s playing extremely well as an NFL quarterback and perhaps for the first time in his athletic life realizing his true potential in his sport. His demeanor these days seems very mature and perceptive. He continues to do the speaking-to-kids thing, urging them not to make the mistakes he’s made. He seems to have a settled-down social life and the love of a decent woman with him.

But enough of the heartstring guilt that we’re all being forced to feel if we don’t have the immediate need to wrap him in a swath of cloth and lay him down in a manger.

There is this notion out there that because Michael Vick served time for his heinous activity, it ends there. This just in: it doesn’t. Human beings are entitled to their own emotions. If people are still warming up to Michael Vick, if they are of the mindset that they can never forgive him for what he did to those dogs, then so be it. There is no standard for comparing crimes. And I’m not trying to compare crimes here. But when a sex offender gets out of jail and moves into your neighborhood, are the neighbors compelled to forgive because the sex offender served time? When a man who took the life of another man gets our of jail and moves back into society, do we not feel hinky about his presence back into our society? If a man is guilty of slapping his wife around, and gets punished for that, do we ever look at him the same way? To that end, when a guy like Vick admits to stringing up a dog that lost a pit bull battle, then either bashing the pup over the head and taking an electrical probe and shocking the thing to death, in retribution for the dog’s loss in the ring or the fact that the dog became so badly damaged in the ring that the crew no longer has use for it, it’s pretty easy to see that we would look at that individual with quite a bit of distant and angry curiosity. Forgiveness is up to the individual, no matter how much we’d all like to be like God.

And so in the case of Michael Vick, it’s OK to take baby steps towards forgiveness.

The Eagles are going to the NFL playoffs, and with a little luck, and Vick not getting injured, they just might be the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl, in Dallas of all places.

In the meantime, Vick is still building up cred, little by little, with a lot of us who aren’t ready to pronounce him St. Mike. And don’t let anyone tell you what you MUST do when it comes to this guy, no matter what Sports Illustrated tells us about ourselves.

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