E Street Band Member Nils Lofgren Takes On Michael Vick

But by overlooking the debauchery in the music world, Lofgren seems less than sincere

One of the few things I remember from law school is that you never come into a court of equity with unclean hands. I remembered that principle vividly when I woke up the other day and found that a rock star was bothered by the Michael Vick situation.

Nils Lofgren, who has been the lead guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band since 1984, wrote an open letter to the NFL and the media who covers the NFL. The letter was published on ESPN.com. Lofgren said he was “disheartened and disappointed” by the media’s “lopsided praise of Michael Vick due to his recent, spectacular on-field performance.”
Specifically, Lofgren states that Vick should have never been given another chance to play in the NFL.

“I support his right to earn a living,” Lofgren wrote. “But while I can’t fault him for taking great advantage of the opportunities afforded him by playing in the NFL, I feel he does not deserve that lofty a place in our society and culture. However repentant he may be, he committed acts whose vileness will resonate down the years. When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.”

Through this entire Vick situation, I have been mindful of the fact that everyone is entitled to have their own, subjective opinion on him. If you feel people should “move on” from being weighed down by Vick’s past transgressions and devote themselves entirely to being an Eagles fan and rooting for him to succeed for the good of the ol’ ball club, then so be it. You are also not wrong if you, like Lofgren, still feel put off by the Vick thing, if you still find yourself in an uncomfortable position on Sundays when you’re torn between rooting for the Eagles, and putting on a sour-puss face because  Vick was been responsible for that touchdown.

Religious values teach us that we are to offer forgiveness to all because it is one of the roads that will get us to heaven, or whatever afterlife you sanction. In reality, it’s very difficult for most folks to be as benevolent. It’s a hard world out there. We live by our own principles of right and wrong. If we forgive transgressions, how can we possibly set an agenda of what is right and wrong? We’d all like to influence others to our ways, to our interpretations of what’s right and wrong because that is what’s in our hearts. Do we immediately forgive the incorrigible child who rips down the display case in the supermarket and runs away laughing, even after we put him in a timeout? Or do we discipline and scold that child and make a forceful enough statement of displeasure so that child will never do it again?

The bottom line is that our forgiveness of Michael Vick — because he participated in a heinous torture of defenseless animals, by strangling them and electrocuting them and ripping out the females’ teeth so they could be gang raped by male pit bulls, and then told the world that it never occurred to him that it was wrong — is a work in progress. Some forgive him because he is a fellow human being and that’s what we’re supposed to do. Some forgive him because he plays quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and he’s having a terrific, MVP-caliber season. Some need a little more time to forgive him. And some, like guitar player Nils Lofgren, who admits in his open letter to ESPN.com to being a huge sports fan (my research indicates that he likes the Washington Redskins), will never forgive him.

“For the NFL to be that forgiving of evil, vicious behavior is a terribly inappropriate act of forgiveness and has brought a sick, sad, dirty feeling to many of us fans who have loved the game for so long,” Lofgren wrote. “And to you reporters, whom I enjoy and respect, the sentiments in this letter are suspiciously absent in your hundreds of hours of Vick coverage.”

OK, Nils. But I wish you would have come into this discussion — into this court of equity — with “clean hands.” The fact is there is just as much degradation in the music world as in illegal dog-fighting venues. Drugs. Debauchery. Mistreatment of women as purely sexual objects. Scum bag agents and promoters.

Lofgren writes: “How can we justify [the Vick saga] to our children?”

Hey Nils, I’m not sure the platform on which you stand isn’t a little wobbly itself. Know what I mean?