By Jason Keidel
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Mitch Albom had the guts to say it. During last Sunday’s episode of “The Sports Reporters” – the lone show worth watching on ESPN – Albom made an astonishing assertion, diving headfirst against the tide of political correctness.

Albom said you can root for the Eagles to do well and, by extension, you can root for Michael Vick the player without rooting for Michael Vick the person.

A shame Mitch said it on the most politically correct network on the planet. ESPN, along with Vick’s apologists, have sprung like weeds while Vick beat juggernauts like the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars. After two weeks Vick was a hybrid of John Unitas and Superman.

Other networks guzzled the Kool-Aid as they dove into the shameless euphemisms. Vick was “quite a story” of “redemption” after “all he’d been through” and his “reckless past.”

Let’s be clear. Showing up late for work is reckless. Having a few extra beers and a headache in the morning is reckless. Waking up with the hangover and a woman you met eight hours ago is reckless.

Slaughtering a city of dogs is grotesque and felonious. If the U.S. Attorney can send swat teams to your house, you’ve graduated from “reckless.”

Too many people carry Vick’s water (among other items I can’t mention) under the banner of redemption. Too often they confuse the right to earn a living with the privilege of stardom. Vick can work on a construction site, as you have, or drive a tractor-trailer, as I have. The notion that Vick is assured a spot in the NFL is laughable.

I can hear your fingers pounding the keyboard right now. Before my inbox pops with invectives and senseless accusations, perhaps I can address your questions now.

Why don’t you get on Big Ben?

I did. I implored my beloved Steelers to cut him. Give me Charlie Batch and a noble nine wins anytime.

Why don’t you get on Roger Clemens?

I did. I called him an idiot, which he was (and still is). And he’s a perjurer. Perhaps he too will join Vick as muscular models of the orange jumpsuit.


Indeed. I said I didn’t believe a word he said about his dalliance with HGH. Why do it twice when you can get nice on everything?

I also defended Reggie Bush and Plaxico Burress. Frankly, Bush should have gotten the money directly from the Pac-10, which surely made millions from him. And Burress was sufficiently punished without Mayor Bloomberg’s fatwa on celebrities with weapons.

An athletic nimbus surrounded Vick, who ran past world-class athletes as though they were knee-deep in mud. And he could casually toss a ball 70 yards. He was a savant who left you breathless because he made the impossible so simple. Michael Vick reminds us that we can be brilliant at one thing and terrible at everything else.

Vick’s recent injury wasn’t karma. Two large men crunched him near the goal line – a place only he would have found after dancing through a secondary that would have stomped any other player.

He can speak at all the community centers he likes, yet Vick won’t explain why there was a shooting at his 30th birthday party this summer in Virginia. Vick wasn’t implicated in the crime, but you wonder where all the newfound wisdom went when he decided to have his party in a bar and allow anyone with $50 (the admission price) to enter. According to The Associated Press, Vick’s attorney Larry Woodward said the victim of the shooting was Quanis Phillips – a co-defendant in Vick’s dog-fighting case.

No doubt Vick paid dearly for his crimes, but the comeback can’t be whole until he is whole. Redemption will come in a place we won’t see because it isn’t measured by yardage. Perhaps Vick has changed. But we won’t know that until he retires, until his moves are no longer framed by sideline photographers.

Until then, forgive some of us for waiting.

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Comments (6)
  1. Dr. Guy Broham says:

    “He can speak at all the community centers he likes, yet Vick won’t explain why there was a shooting at his 30th birthday party this summer in Virginia. Vick wasn’t implicated in the crime”

    Why does he owe you an explanation about something he wasn’t involved with? You may THINK he was involved in it, but the police looked into it and decided otherwise.

    He did a horrendous thing, was arrested, served his time in a federal prison and is out now. A large part of the prison system is about rehabilitation. So if he’s out now, contributing to society in a positive manner, it is a redemption story – whether you want it to be or not. Dope.

  2. David says:

    Am I missing something? Did Vick not pay his penalty to society? Who are we to judge was is just and what is not. The judge ruled and Vick paid the penalty. He has he right to learn from his mistake and forgive himself and move on. We need to do the same and not be so judgmental. I think we all need to look in the mirror and try to change what it is we KNOW that we do wrong. Let’s be real, think about it.

  3. sjr says:

    Vick has long been allowed to get away with bad and illegal behavior just because he can run and throw a ball. He certainly is no role model for young kids. I can not understand how some people say he deserves another chance and that what he did was a “mistake”. He got up every day and decided to torture, fight and kill dogs. That is much more than a mistake. It is basic right from wrong. Vick has a huge ego and has certainly gotten more handed to him than most Americans. He seems sorry for only 1 thing, getting caught. He always talks about how he has been impacted, funny he never talks about the dogs he maimed and killed. How can anyone thing fighting and killing dogs is OK? And when he is given credit for what he says in interviews, remember, the words he speaks come straight from his high priced PR and legal team (and he still can’t use proper english when he talks). And by the way, how does he pay for his legal and PR team? He filed bankruptcy and left his creditors hanging. So he can play football, he certainly has no morale character.

  4. Adam M. says:

    As a big Vick fan, I have always separated Vick the football player from Vick the person. I have always rooted for him on the football field, and in the same notion, I have to root for him off the field so that he may keep his nose clean and REMAIN in going standing with the NFL. I wish Vick all the best and hope he can get healthy quickly and lead the Eagles to the playoffs.

  5. Jo says:

    You got that right, Jason.

  6. Kurt says:

    Can’t argue with the TRUTH!

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