Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

Time to re-visit the question of Michael Vick, now that he’s been signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. In my original post, I asked if–having paid his dues– he should be welcomed back into the NFL with open arms.

The reaction (on this blog and the real world) was mixed; some believed that his dogfighting had nothing to do with his football career and he should be allowed to continue playing. One person suggested that in order to make monetary amends with the Humane Society, ASPCA and other such organizations, he would need an NFL contract.

On the other side of things, there were those who felt that Vick showed nothing less than sociopathic tendencies and shouldn’t be allowed back into a position where he would serve as a role model for children (and some adults).

I just can’t help but feel that his easy re-entry is an ethical letdown. Here’s why:

Vick may have paid his dues in prison, but why does he get to step straight into his 6 million dollar shoes? I don’t believe anyone who has served their time should be deprived of a livelihood, but it worries me that he was granted such easy access back into fame and fortune. Sure, a $6 million contract is a far cry from his once-fortune of $130 million, but I highly doubt anyone is going to deny that this is still a tidy sum of money for someone newly released from prison.

It worries me because I hear fans and sports commentators talking about his redemption being based on how well he does for the Eagles. Football is a game; animals are living creatures that can feel not only pain, but agony.

Vick says he regrets his decisions and that he cried during his nights in prison – that sounds about as sorry as I feel the morning after I’ve had one glass of wine too many. I suppose I’d like to see him work his way back into public trust, because like it or not, he is a public figure. And working his way back into that trust shouldn’t just mean a 60 Minutes interview.

In Vick’s own statement he said, “I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right…” So how exactly did he earn that privilege back? By serving his time? Apples and oranges! He was convicted of a crime and served his sentence. So yes, he has earned the right to carry on in society and become a productive citizen. When, exactly, did he earn back the privilege of playing in the NFL?

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