Friday, August 14, 2009

Difficult to Forget Gruesome Crimes, But Easy To Forgive Vick


Dressed in a stylish, grayish and golden pinstriped suit, Michael Vick officially made a public scene with the Philadelphia Eagles in a news conference, where he was introduced as the newest member of the Eagles, joined by coach Andy Reid and his adviser and former NFL coach Tony Dungy.

Sitting in front of the media, staring into your television screen, Vick seemed very sincere, gracious, and apologetic for bankrolling a heinous dogfighting ring that nearly jeopardized his career. Either way, that is, there’ll be masses always embracing Vick, while others will refuse to accept him back as a supreme superstar.

Waiting to see how long Vick’s timeless pursuit in calling a new team home would last, teams were skeptical to sign a player with burdens. Suddenly, Dungy, who has been a positive mentor for Vick, predicted his status and acknowledged that he’ll be with a team before the end of the week. Sure enough, the Eagles made a dicey choice by adding a once-disturbed individual who now seems to be a changed man, understanding the values of life.

After a 23-month federal sentence, spending 18 in prison and the final two in home confinement, reality kicked in as he mellowed and sought to move on and prove to the world he isn’t a sinful individual, but someone who made a dreadful mistake.

Unlike most teams, the Eagles were amenable in giving Vick a second chance to prove himself on Sundays and satisfy society. Thursday night, a dream returned, when Vick agreed to sign a one-year deal, with an option for a second year for $5.2 million.

He is now given a chance to redeem a gruesome crime and send powerful messages to children to not follow the same path.

With his penetrating eyes and serious facial features, it showed a more mature and remorseful quarterback, and can turn out to be the best-case scenario or the worst-case scenario.

From other teams that were interested in Vick, the Eagles were least expected, and have shocked the world by taking such a risk to create a multi-dimensional threat.

We’ll never forget the horrific crimes. But in the end, hopefully, we can remember the sincere and respectful gentleman he is now. To be fair, he has earned it back by paying debits to society and working at the Boys and Girls Club.

To be fair, he can probably keep himself out of trouble, after spending ample time with the feds. To be fair, he has shown enough remorse in working with the Humane Society of the United States.

Make no mistake, despite unlawful letdowns, Vick can offer a few tricks in the “Wildcat” offense, which he can probably run effectively. While serving a two-year suspension, and staring at four gray walls from behind bars, Vick will likely be a bit rusty. But after all, he might still be agile inside the pocket and explosive outside of it.

If so, the Eagles can benefit as Vick’s speed will create options on offense, making it difficult for opposing defensive units to make a critical stop. And McNabb can utilize his nifty footwork and break out of the pocket by running the ball quite often to amass productive yard totals. Of course, those are gratifying aspects of Vick’s presence.

But not long ago, the Eagles extended Donovan McNabb’s contract. They trust that he’s the legitimate quarterback who can lead them back to the Super Bowl. And not long ago, PETA sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, stating aversion about the horrific crimes and advised him not to grant Vick a second chance.

In Philly, the landing spot is surreal, not because of Vick’s infamous wrongdoings, but because the Eagles have a lineup of talented weapons and a quarterback with an ego. In addition, across our society, Vick’s presence won’t settle too well with those who are numb and dishearten of the outrageous scandal.

And it is still difficult to predict how effective he’ll be with the Eagles. Or even, if protesters will continue to crowd the outside of the NovaCare complex in Philly and local venues at home and on the road.

Here’s a theory about the average Philly fan. It’s the "City of Brotherly Love" and sometimes hate. It’s the city that booed Santa Claus. But it’s the city where rabid fans admire players, if they perform efficiently. All Vick has to do is win, and perform up to his capabilities to absorb a large fan base. I think he already has, just from his posture and good vibes, exhibited at the news conference and the comments he made in regards to redirecting his lifestyle.

“I know I’ve done some terrible things, made a horrible mistake. Now I want to be part of the solution and not the problem,” Vick said sincerely.

The problems are public scorn and splitting time with McNabb. First off, fans don’t care about contract arrangements, public scrutiny or making time suitable for two quarterbacks with the same type of pedigree.

They care only about winning games and the Super Bowl. In a city that is championship-starved, the least worry on their minds is the quarterback with most snaps. At the end of the day, McNabb is likely to get the most snaps, though he’s one of the most polarizing athletes in Philly.

Over the years, he has been scrutinized by fans and the media for under-performing or overachieving. But more shockingly, Reid benched McNabb in favor of second-year quarterback Kevin Kolb a season ago. In the first half of that game, McNabb had committed three turnovers in a miserable performance. But for some time now, McNabb has been an under-appreciated athlete.

Now there’s no reason to dislike or boo him. He personally lobbied management to sign Vick, emphasizing that he wanted to be a mentor and give advice to a grateful player.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie listened and gave him a second chance to turn his life into a positive one, and possibly cure the Eagles misfortunes of coming up short in big games. He met with Vick for a few hours, and is convinced that Vick has paid his debts and is doing much to prevent animal cruelty.

Thanks to Dungy, who visited Vick in prison and guided in his troubling times, and McNabb’s positive messages, Vick has positive men who are generous and have encouraged him to turn his life around. Still, there will always be disgruntled people who don’t accept Vick.

I wrote in several columns that Vick shouldn’t be allowed back, but by indicating maturity and positive messages, he’s more likable.

We’ll never forget, but we can forgive.