August 14th, the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles signed dog-killer Michael Vick to a one-year contract with an option on a second year. Vick, former proprietor of “Bad Newz Kennels,” admitted to financing the dogfighting ring that operated out of Bad Newz Kennels and to bankrolling gambling on fights. He also pled guilty to complicity in the killings of at least six underperforming dogs.
Vick and his friends killed dogs by wetting them down and then electrocuting them or by hanging, drowning, shooting, and in at least one case, by slamming one dog’s body into the ground.
After losing sizable advertising endorsements; his $130 million job quarterbacking the Atlanta Falcons; and an 18-month stretch at Leavenworth Federal Prison, the now financially and still morally bankrupt Vick is back. He’ll be paid $1.6 million by the equally morally bankrupt Philadelphia Eagles.
Well, let’s just say Vick had 130 million reasons to be sorry for what he did. He has certainly gone out of his way to tender his apologies and offer his sincerely insincere mea culpas. Vick claims he has seen the light. He is sorry for what he did. Yeah, right.
In his post judgment remarks, Vick said, “I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature acts and, you know, what I did was, what I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up. I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player.”
Well, jailhouse conversions are well-known ploys for leniency from the prison system. Call me skeptical but here’s a jailhouse convert who’s now succeeded in gaining leniency from the NFL. And if things go as expected, all will be forgiven and forgotten from football fans in the City of Brotherly Love, especially if Vick shows success on the field.
But once a thug, always a thug. You can take Vick out of the ‘the hood’ but you can’t take ‘the hood’ out of Vick. Be assured, once he resumes the trappings of fame, adulation, restored prosperity, a bad-ass attitude, and partying good times, the “real” Vick will emerge.
Freud said the core of personality is formed by age 5. Other findings like the Dunedin study claim one’s character is formed at pre-school age. But in the case of 29-year old Michael Vick, caught, convicted, and jailed 18 months out of a 23 month sentence, Vick has reformed his personality and remolded his slipshod character. Vick is a man remade if not redeemed.
Now, I’ve been accused before of being cynical. My wife once thought it had something to do with being a lawyer. I told her “Not true. I was cynical well before then. Why I was cynical the day I was born when I slapped the doctor before he slapped me.”
Notwithstanding my apocryphal tale, my pessimistic view of what would ultimately transpire in the Vick case remains sadly vindicated. His reinstatement was a foregone conclusion, given the support of uncaring sportswriters, insensitive fans, and avaricious team owners along with the hushed complicity of animal humane advocates who remained either silent or tacitly supportive. (Case in point, after first criticizing Vick and his light sentence, the Humane Society of the United States jumped aboard Vick’s public relations NFL reinstatement campaign to enlist his “help” to speak out against dogfighting. Second case in point, in June, I attended an animal law continuing education program and was shocked that one of the nationally-noted speakers refrained from commenting, much less criticizing Michael Vick).
Philosopher George Santayana once said, “Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect.” More significantly, Santayana also deemed it shameful to surrender our chaste intellects too soon. So in the case of the personal rehabilitation of Michael Vick, I reassert my skepticism and deem as shameful not only its surrender but also the object of its manifestation.