Skip to content
Guest Thinkers

If You Don’t Believe In Second Chances, You Don’t Believe In Second Downs

What President Obama and my lazy news media don’t seem to remember, or don’t want to address today, is something Jeff Lurie said back when he hired Vick:

“I needed to see a lot of self-hatred in order to approve this”

Jeff Lurie

Excerpted from “With Eagles, Vick gets second chance” ESPN Online

Any grade school teacher will tell you that they teach children to despise the bad acts they may commit, not themselves. So why did Vick, who is nothing more than a very good football player who has had off the field legal problems, need to hate himself so much before Lurie could sign him back in 2009 as a potential quarterback for his team?

I had put the notion of wrestling with redemption and Michael Vick on the back burner after the holidays curtailed much of my heavy duty thinking time. Then President Obama, of all people, weighed in on Vick’s felony conviction and his remarkable reentry into society with the help of the Philadelphia Eagles, and all hell broke loose. I don’t think the president was particularly courageous for stating the obvious. But in a society where too many African American men are denied reentry into the workforce because of their criminal history, it is as legitimate a concern for the White House to be behind as the idea of better college readiness by high school students, no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office.

Vick may not be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player this year, but there is no doubt that he is this season’s Most Exciting Player. His mind boggling display of his unique skill set on the field of play captivates football fans, myself included, around the country week after week. And yet in some ways, it is still hard, even for a person like me who doesn’t like dogs of any kind, to reconcile in my mind this new and improved Michael Vick with the version who brutalized half a dozen pit bulls without a second thought.

Back when the Vick dogfighting story first broke, it brought an avalanche of vigilante journalists running to the rescue, with more mind bending methods of torture being described for Michael Vick than I can ever remember for…

…Eric Rudolph…

…Jeffery Dahmer…

…John Muhammed…

…or even

Lee Malvo…

The only people I can think of in recent memory who have generated such rabid hatred are O.J. Simpson, Saddam Hussein, and maybe, just maybe, Mohammed Atta and friends (remember them? the terrorists who took over the planes back in 2001 on September 11th?).

The anonymous internet user who originally posted the phrase “if you don’t believe in second chances, you don’t believe in second downs” on a sports blog last year was absolutely right. The larger philosophical question the furor over Michael Vick’s future brings to mind is whether or not we are the real Christians we say we are. Whether or not we really believe in the rehabilitative aspects of our criminal justice system, or whether we should simply let all transgressors rot in their jail cells because they are forever fatally flawed, unable to ever even partially redeem themselves.


Up Next
Do we pay top executives too little? That, as Tyler Cowen points out, is the question raised by a recent paper by Bang Dang Nguyen and Kaspar Meisner Nielsen. The […]