I never ever thought I would write an article about this topic, with this title, with this point of view. I also never thought that as a dog owner, quite opposed to animal cruelty of any kind and proponent of punishment for things of this nature, such as dog-fighting, I would speak out in defense of someone who did something so unforgivable, so despicable, so inexcusably awful. I felt so full of guilt when I read an article today about the trauma caused by the violence done unto the dogs in Vick’s dog-fighting system. I felt bad for being one of the first people I know to publicly speak out in support of this terrible human being, this violent, gross person who could have cared less about anything or anyone but himself. I felt like a bad person, myself. But then I thought about it…and I not only forgave Michael Vick, but I forgave myself.
First off, let me say, I have a dog. But he’s not a real dog. He’s a person who just happens to be in a dog’s body. He’s the light of my life and I can’t imagine my day-to-day existence without him. Henry is truly a best friend and a companion who I love more than anything in the world. I would do anything for him and if anyone harmed him in any way, I would not think twice to beat the living crap out of them. You have to understand that.
You also have to understand that I’ve had a lot of shitty things happen to me in my life. I’m not going to whine and complain about them, it’s just a fact. If you hang on to these things, and harbor this constant hate against the people who have hurt you, you’ll just be carrying a weight, an unfair weight your entire life. I’ll never forget what those people did to me. I may not associate with them or think very highly of them as people, but forgiving and forgetting are not the same thing. I’m not a religious person, so I can’t rely on scripture, but to make mistakes it human. Forgiveness is what sets people apart. I’m not going to judge anyone who chooses never to forgive Vick, I don’t think everyone should—it’s a personal choice. And no one should forget. But I choose to forgive.
There are players in the NFL who have cheated on their wives, raped women, killed people. I mean, serious stuff. And what Vick did falls right in line with all those things, in my opinion. However, Vick did time. He really did. He couldn’t play football, he went bankrupt. In my opinion, he paid a price. Whether you think it was a fair price to pay is besides the point. Some of those other rapists, murderers, wife cheaters and beaters never paid a price. Most of them never went to jail, some of them were never even suspended. And the majority of them didn’t feel the public backlash like Vick did. The public reacted to the dog-fighting incident in such a way that it made Vick public enemy #1. He was hated, really hated. And it was deserved. He was boo-ed, had threats mailed to him and his family, had groups devoted to hating him and destroying any hope he had in living a normal life after he was released from jail. But Vick rose to the challenge.
He publicly apologized, seemed genuine, and said that he was a changed man and he was willing to prove it. He also said he was built to play football, and it was what he was put on this earth to do and he could still be good at it. As of now, Vick seems to be remorseful, humbled by the experience and is truly making a “comeback”, proving he can still be one of the best QBs in the NFL.
Maybe he hasn’t earned your trust or your respect back. That’s fine. Maybe he never will. That’s fine too. But as I have said over and over again, where would any of us be without second chances. I’m not a perfect person, and while I could never sink to the low that Vick did, I only hope that if I did make a mistake, a horrible mistake, that those around me would find a way to forgive and let me show them that that’s not how I want to be remembered, and that perhaps I deserve at least a chance at redemption. To some murderers and other criminals, I am not sure if I would feel the same way. But in this day and age where we (you know, liberals like me) are so relaxed on punishment on crimes and so intent on rehabilitation when possible, I think Vick can be a prime example of how the system can work, but only if we let it.
To all my friends who are Vick-haters, I understand and respect your opinions and I only hope that you can try to understand and respect mine.