Whatever happened to Michael Vick? A few years ago, he got busted for killing dogs. He went to prison. Lost his money, his reputation, his freedom. Lost everything.
Now he's back, making news this week as the quarterback king of the Philadelphia Eagles, only this can't be him. I've seen story after story on this person named Michael Vick, and I've read plenty of words devoted to the way Eagles coach Andy Reid took his thumb out of his rear end, stuck it in the air and gauged which way the wind was blowing before deciding Vick would be his quarterback.
|It's fine to forgive Michael Vick, but it's not fine to forget what he did. (AP)|
You know what I've not read much about?
It's like we've all moved on. We've compartmentalized the Michael Vick story, decided that the dogs aren't merely old news -- they're irrelevant. Dog-killing Michael Vick is now dual-threat Michael Vick.
Vick personally killed seven dogs by hanging or drowning them? Old and busted. Vick ran for 103 yards against Green Bay and threw for 284 yards against Detroit? New hotness.
Please, don't get me wrong. I'm stating this as plainly as I can, and fairly high in this story, that I believe in the redemption of Michael Vick. I believe in forgiveness. Didn't think I would, not three years ago when the world learned of his dog-fighting operation and I called Vick "the scum of the Earth." At the time I was furious with Vick, and I'm not exactly fuzzy for him now. But after he was released from prison he went on 60 Minutes and gave a humbling show of remorse. That softened my stance, and I stand by that softening.
Redemption is a beautiful thing. If I ever screw up as offensively as Vick screwed up, a chance at redemption would mean the world to me.
So I'm not saying: Burn Michael Vick at the stake!
But I am asking: Have we all moved on? Already? Completely?
It sure seems that way. Here at CBSSports.com, my colleagues wrote three stories immediately after Reid's decision to start Vick over Kolb. Clark Judge wrote about the Eagles' long-term plans for the quarterback position. Pete Prisco wrote that Vick doesn't pass well enough to win consistently in the NFL. Mike Freeman wrote that the Eagles seem to have no rudder, no plan.
None of them wrote the words "dog" or "prison." None of them even alluded to that stuff.
None of them.
So I went to the Philadelphia newspapers. In the Daily News, columnist Rich Hofmann spent 729 words on Reid abandoning his plan to build slowly around Kolb. Not one of those 729 words was "dog" or "prison."
In the Inquirer, columnist Bob Ford used 106 more words than Hofmann, and like Hofmann he noted that this move made football sense. And it does. Vick has played exceptionally well in two games. But not one of Ford's 835 words was "dog" or "prison."
Only after clicking on Philly.com's fifth story related to Vick did I find reference to his dog-fighting past. And from there I was led to the back cover of the Daily News, which mocks Vick and, I suppose, any of us who love dogs by calling Vick the Eagles' new "top dog."
Har! I get it. But let's do the math: Eight stories about Vick becoming the Eagles' quarterback. One of them mentioned his criminal past.
That's startling, and this is one of those times where I'm going to assume the media doesn't just speak to fans, but for them. I'm going to assume -- please let me know if I'm wrong -- that most of you are like most of the sportswriters who are writing about Vick: You've moved on. You know what Vick did, and you might even have been repulsed by what he did, but you've moved on. That was three years ago, and this is football season. Who cares about Lassie? This is football.
This is where I fight through my nausea and remind you that some things are so bad, they should never be forgotten. We can forgive, yes. But forget? Only if I suffer amnesia will I forget what Vick did to those dogs, and only if my bosses start editing my stuff with an axe will I stop writing about it whenever I mention him.
See, dogs are part of who Vick is. Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor. Pete Rose is a gambler. Michael Vick is a dogfighter. Always and forever.
To let him move on with his career, well, that's humane.
To ignore what he has done, to leave it for someone else to address? That's negligent.
Here in this story, which runs at roughly 800 words, "forgive" appears three times. The word "redemption" appears four times.
"Dog" is in here 14 times.
Doesn't seem enough.