Michael Vick got a head start on a possible long prison stretch Monday, surrendering three weeks before he was to be sentenced for his involvement in a bloody dogfighting ring.
The disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback surrendered to U.S. marshals in what his lawyer said was another step in his public repentance.
“From the beginning, Mr. Vick has accepted responsibility for his actions, and his self-surrender further demonstrates that acceptance,” attorney Billy Martin said in a statement. “Michael wants to again apologize to everyone who has been hurt in this matter, and he thanks all of the people who have offered him and his family prayers and support during this time.”
A million words will probably be written about why he surrendered. Was it the humble submission of a man whose new faith in Jesus is making a difference? Was it a ploy to reduce his prison sentence? Was it a simple way to just start taking the punishment now? Was it a PR ploy? Was it something else entirely?
Only Michael Vick and God know the real answers to those questions. But in this era when athletes routinely do anything but accept the consequences of their cheating or their crimes, Vick is proving himself different.
I find it hard to imagine Barry Bonds stepping up this way. I find it equally hard to see New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick – whose apology for the Patriots cheating scandal was among the least apologetic of apologies – facing the music this way.
Michael Vick’s horrid dog fighting involvement has cost him plenty – his NFL career, scores of millions of dollars, his reputation, to say nothing of all the animals that he so brutally killed and wounded. But in a cultural and a society that desperately needs to believe in redemption, perhaps Vick can yet prove himself to be a model for redemption.