Monday, December 10, 2007

Only Michael Vick Can Write a Happy Ending to this Troubling Story

Michael Vick's 23 month prison sentence for his involvement in running a dog fighting operation will no doubt lead many people to conclude that his NFL career is over. However, we live in a society that can be very forgiving to anyone who shows sincere contrition, so don't assume that the NFL will stand in Vick's way if he changes his life around in the next two years. In a league in which quarterbacks can play at a very high level in their late 30s (hello, Brett Favre) and at a good level in their 40s (welcome back, Vinny Testaverde), it is very premature to say that Vick, who will only be 29 when he is released, will never play again.

The real questions for Vick now, as indicated in a column by
ESPN's Lester Munson, are that he is not showing signs of turning his life around. He has failed a drug test, lied about his drug use and failed a lie-detector test about his role in th dog-fighting operation--and those transgressions directly led to him receiving a sentence nearly twice as long as he might otherwise have gotten. It is vitally important for Vick to use these next 23 months to change his thought process and evolve into a better more mature human being--that is not only much more important than whether or not he will ever play pro football again but it is also essential for him to do in order to get the opportunity to play pro football again.

Billy Martin, Vick's attorney, said, "Never has someone fallen so hard, so fast and so far." This troubling story can still have an uplifting ending but only if Michael Vick has the resolve and the strength of character to admit his mistakes--not just for public consumption, but to himself; contrition means accepting that you were wrong and making amends for your conduct, not just saying that you are sorry so that people will sympathize with you.

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