I recently wrote a HuffPost piece stating that Michael Vick has a right to work, but the NFL owners have an equal right not to hire him. Some agreed. Some did not. Some were angry. One asked: "Who died and made you the moral compass of the NFL?"
It drew well over 500 responses -- surprising for something that has been in the news constantly for two years now. This is a man and a story that did not touch a nerve in America; it grabbed whole bundles of nerves and jumped rope with them.
In single lines and long paragraphs, the rolling conversation swirled through race, redemption, second chances and gross hypocrisy.
No surprise that race came up. But at a time when race is just a front-porch confrontation away from another round of national examination, it did not come nearly as often as other points.
- We all know the real reason why Mike Vick is taking such a bashing, even AFTER he has served his time. Pure and simple, it's because he's a Black man in Amerikkka making more money than a lot us will see in a life time!
- What does the fact that he's black have to do with it? ... please don't attempt to excuse his viciousness because he's black. That's appalling.
- Was this a racial issue when the crime was committed?. NO. But too often our collective racial history ... affects attitudes, commentary and ultimately the judgment of the public.
Many argued for perspective. What Michael Vick did was horrible. But others have done far worse -- such as government leaders who start disastrous wars, and then leave town.
-I mean, yes, it's cruel. But at least he didn't abuse children or solicit sex from minors like so many of your politicians who still work in politics.
- ... close to 6,000 dead, ten of thousands injured, and not yet one WMD has been found in Iraq besides the ones we took there. Bush is making speeches and money with all that blood on his hands. What's your take on that?
- Did you think Martha Stewart should get a chance at reclaiming her livelihood?
- I guess if he had created a financial meltdown, he could have avoided going to jail because it is not illegal to lend money on worthless loans - just immoral.
- I don't care what Vick did to those dogs, it has nothing what so ever to do with the profession of football or his ability to be trusted playing that game. ... Keep him out of PETA instead, or the veterinarian or breeding professions.
Most comments by far were about fairness and forgiveness. Two years in jail and a lost fortune is enough. Michael Vick should be allowed to work in the NFL. Some said one more chance - but only one. Others said: only a select few get one chance to play in the NFL; he blew that chance forever.
-.... as repugnant as the crime was, punishment was handed out that had been determined fit the crime. That's the way the system works
- What if he was a truly excellent package deliverer for FedEx? Would it bother you that he return to FedEx after doing his time/paying his debt to society? Football is what the man does.
- What I propose is to take a portion of his revenue for the rest of his career. This would be much like an alimony payment for the benefit of animal rights everywhere
- All of this hyper outrage because animals are involved makes me sick. ... Now if Vick gets caught doing this again, I say bury him under the jail
- (You have fallen for) the oldest trick in the Hollywood book- you never, ever kill the dog. The audience will never let you live it down
- I watched a show ... about death row prisoners. One of the prisoners said something that has stayed in my mind ... "How can you be sorry for something you intended to do?"
- Mr. Vick's hobby was an ongoing, serial enterprise. And he'd be enjoying it today if only he hadn't got caught by those meddling busybodies who ruined his good time.
- How many slams does it take to kill a dog?
Many saw pure hypocrisy, and on multiple fronts.
- (People are) raking Vick over the coals while not saying a peep about those who accidentally killed humans and got back on the field without nearly as much "outrage".
- Don't you dare lecture us on Michael Vick's exceptional brutality towards living beings. It's a prerequisite of his job.
- This is a clear instance of animal lovers who either A) Don't know jack about the NFL or B) Can't see straight from huffing too many flea collars running their mouths.
- (I'll think about this) as I eat my steak.
- Hey look at those leather shoes. Those used to be a living breathing animal. Hey look at that chicken taco you're eating. That used to be a living, breathing animal.
- An NFL team will indeed pick up Vick and the answer is easy. Money. Winning games sells tickets and merchandise and beer.
If the responses were votes, Michael Vick would be at practice right now -- did the crime, served the time, let him move on. For many, however, that second chance would be a one-time offer -- meaning he will have to check for cell-phone cameras before he swats a fly. Those who argue that systematic animal torture for fun and profit deserves a permanent ban -- and, sorry, I remain among them -- were a passionate minority.
But what about the votes that count? USAToday.com reports that 27 of 32 teams -- most citing team needs and best wishes -- have said: not interested.
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