09/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Vick Signing is About Winning: Drop the Sanctimony about Second Chances

In what other profession besides pro sports would a person convicted of running a massive dogfighting ring for six years be welcomed back to their old employer almost immediately upon release from federal prison? Would a community rally around such a disgraced teacher? Or doctor? Or college student? Or soldier?

Absolutely not. It's not like Vick made an understandable "mistake." For six years, he systematically tortured animals and operated a criminal enterprise. Then he denied it until all of his collaborators blew the whistle on him.

The only reason anyone cares about Michael Vick and wants him to be successful is because he's exciting when he runs with a football. Our culture lionizes athletes. Nobody with lesser athletic talent would receive such sympathetic treatment. And that's why the sanctimony dripping from the Eagles' organization is killing me. The sentimental charm offensive oozing out of Philadelphia is feeding us these talking points:

---Everyone deserves a second chance after a "mistake"; what makes this country great is the chance for redemption.

---Michael Vick is now working to help, not hurt or kill, dogs. He's truly sorry.

Let's address these.

This isn't about America's beneficent nature in granting second chances. Nobody cares if Vick's dogfighting collaborators are getting "second chances." (Nobody even knows who those guys are.) Vick is getting a second chance to live life as a citizen outside of jail. He served his time in prison. He's out. That's the second chance. It doesn't impel NFL organizations to pay him millions of dollars to be a sports idol again.

As far as Vick's volunteering at the Humane Society, that's great. It's the bare minimum he could do for atonement. However, his newfound desire to help animals doesn't mean he deserves a $1.6 million contract (with an option for over $5 million next year).

This is about winning and nothing else. Everyone should drop the high-handed pretense about what poor Michael Vick deserves and recognize that this was nothing more than a calculated business decision.

I think in the first line, Vick meant to express his gratitude, but instead offered his "gratification." I wonder how any of us non-millionaire athletes will be able to share in either of those feelings over this shocker.