Michael Vick hurt dogs. Michael Vick tortured dogs. Michael Vick drowned dogs. Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick did some of the most horrible, unspeakable things to dogs that I have ever read. He lied to federal prosecutors and they threw the book at him.
Michael Vick spent 21 months in federal prison contemplating the horrible things he did to those dogs. He spent 21 months thinking about turning his life around.
Michael Vick is out of jail. He has been out of jail for over 6 years. He has played football in the NFL for most of those six years, both with the Eagles and the Jets. And now…
The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Tuesday that they have signed Michael Vick to a 1-year contract as back-up quarterback after Bruce Gradkowski sustained a season-ending injury during Sunday’s pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. The former dog fighting ring lord and canine assassin is now a Steeler.
Some fans are outraged. Some of my hard-core Steeler fan friends have even said to me that they will not watch a single Steeler game because Vick is on the team. At today’s practice, there were even protests!
Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick went to prison for murdering dogs. Michael Vick is now a Pittsburgh Steeler.
And I am okay with that.
There is a lot to be said for honoring the rule of law. Vick pled guilty to the crimes of which he was accused by the federal prosecutor. He served his time. And since his release from prison has shown a remarkable 180 degree attitude adjustment. After serving his time for his role in the dog fighting ring, Vick became an advocate for humane animal treatment. He has volunteered his time and notoriety for The Humane Society of the United States, supporting their Pets for Life program and helping to spread their message with public appearances. He even helped to get the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act passed in Congress.
In this case, justice was served. Whether one agrees with his sentence is a moot point now. Unfortunately, in our society, we often make it extremely difficult for ex convicts to lead meaningful, gainful lives. In some cases, it would be better to keep convicts imprisoned than throw them on the streets without the means to provide for themselves and their families or enjoy a sense of accomplishment after serving their time. The resulting lack of opportunity leads to re-convictions and life behind bars. This is why Rand Paul and Cory Booker have brought justice to Congress with their REDEEM Act; and why many Americans seek to “ban the box” from employment applications.
Michael Vick served his time; and he deserves a second chance. He’s not perfect. He’s just a football player. Michael Vick is a Pittsburgh Steeler. And I’m okay with that.
But I still wouldn’t let him babysit my cats.
The illegal dog fighting culture is alive and thriving in Western Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. Therefore I feel like I have not done justice to this issue without encouraging everyone to write to your legislator and encourage him or her to support legislation that strengthens the laws against dog fighting. In Pennsylvania there are bills sitting with the Assembly waiting on them to take action. I encourage everyone to make a phone call to your legislator to ask them to support laws that aim to end dog fighting for good and put dog fighting ring participants behind bars.