Give quarterback Michael Vick a second chance — he’s paid for his crimes

Everybody deserves a second chance under our American legal system.  You do the crime, you do the time, and then you go back into society and try to make something of yourself.  That’s what former NFL quarterback Michael Vick is trying to do.  So why are so many people on his case?

Public reaction has been mixed after the Philadelphia Eagles announced yesterday that the team signed Vick to a one-year contract,  according to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Why, critics are asking,  should the Eagles have signed the former Atlanta Falcons QB  — who was indefinitely suspended from the NFL and recently served 18-months in federal prison for running a dog fighting ring after his 2007 conviction?  How could the Eagles have hired an animal abuser?  Why would the Eagles have done such a stupid thing?

Well, I don’t like what Vick did either.  I am an animal lover who has three dogs and a cat.  I find his actions repulsive and inhumane, as did the courts and the judge who sentenced him to a 23-month prison term. But should that stupid action on Vick’s part mean that for the rest of his life he is only judged on this one heinous,  selfish, arrogant, mean and horrendous act?

The only reasonable answer is no.  For any of us who make a huge mistake or do something vile or stupid or hateful, somehow there has to be a way out through a second chance, through forgiveness, through lessons being learned in life.  And I believe that Vick or anyone else who commits a crime deserves such a chance.

As a free society, with laws and punishments and repercussions for our actions, there must also be a means for healing, for moving forward, for rehabilitation.  You’d want the same opportunity for yourself if you did something stupid and went to prison for it.  Starting now, Vick’s past is his past.  He served his time.

Now let’s see how he handles his second chance.  This chance  is there for him to fly as an Eagle and as a member of the Philadelphia community or for him to squander and perhaps forever be banished from professional sports as a failure and former felon.  It’s in Vick’s hands and heart now.

An online poll by the Inquirer on whether Vick should have been signed by the Eagles is so far split almost evenly, with 48.7% of the respondents supporting the move, while 51.3% opposed it as of 5 p.m. today.

There are already some Eagles season ticket holders who are posting their tickets for sale on Web sites in protest of his signing by the team,  according to a report in the Inquirer.  I think that’s ridiculous.  I think that attitude is part of what’s wrong in our country today, from people who believe they are holier than thou, until their own asses are on the line.  No one seems to give the other guy much slack.

Vick did a terrible, horrible, repulsive thing.  But he went to prison for it and paid for his past actions with 18-months of his life in a federal prison cell.  Now it’s time to give him another chance and see if he makes the best use of it.