I wrote this originally as a response to a contributor stating that Michael Vick's reinstatement deserved a '100 percent, unequivocally, YES.' They went on to say that it was not even up for debate. I disagree. It is up for debate and his reinstatement is hardly an unequivocal, yes.
Second chances are not given, they earned. You give a chance once, if it is not truly appreciated the next chance must be earned. Michael Vick must show that he not only deserves to be on an NFL roster, but also that he be allowed in the homes of millions of people. Michael Vick needs to prove he is worth rooting for as a player and a man. These are the roadblocks as I see them.
Despite what you think PETA and the picket signs may not be the so-called target demographic the NFL is after, but the dog lovers, pet owners, and animal lovers are certainly included in that target demographic.
Moreover, there are women that make the snack and beer buying decision for the game, do not underestimate their power.
PETA does one thing far better than just about any other non profit organization in the country—generate controversy and make millions of dollars doing just that.
If Michael Vick comes into the league without showing true reconciliation and a thorough understanding of what he did was wrong you can guarantee that PETA will not only rally the troops they will create a public relations nightmare for the NFL.
It will not simply be National advertisers, local affiliates will feel the heat as well as they broadcast a product that could cost them advertisers. It is a bigger PR problem than Donte' Stallworth's drunk driving incident, because the NFL and networks depend upon the alcohol industry for sponsorship.
The NFL cannot risk bringing in one player with the baggage Vick has without covering their bets. Vick must show and display a true understanding as to why he was sent to jail. If not, you can watch as advertisers will distance themselves from Vick in order to prevent customers from boycotting their products.
2. The Players
They are players that love dogs. Love them. Not just their dog, all dogs. A dog lover will give their life to protect their dog, just as they would a family member or a friend. It is a reflex.
You honestly believe that there is not a dog lover on an NFL roster that will want to have an unrepentant Michael Vick as a team mate. You honestly believe that a dog lover on an opposing team would not love to put a bounty on an unrepentant Vick.
An unrepentant Vick on a roster will cause disharmony in the clubhouse and on the field of play. Yet another headache for the NFL.
Kids love dogs. Players, coaches, owners, advertisers, fans, announcers, newscasters, you get the point. A lot of these people have kids.
You may make a decision based on money, try explaining that to a child. Back to the pressure PETA will put on the NFL, you don't think that children will ask their parents why Vick is playing, why they are supporting a man that systematically tortured, killed, and brutalized dogs.
You don't think that a crying child will not inspire a player, an announcer, a fan to take action so they can be their child's hero. Vick's transgressions may be protested by PETA, but a lot more people find what he did as a sickening and despicable act of brutality.
4. Michael Vick
Michael has not yet been given a chance to show that he is ready to be a NFL player. With the job comes the responsibility of being a role model whether you like it or not. People look up to sports figures.
A team does not want a player that will diminish their public image with the fans and their families. It is why the NBA makes players not in uniform where suits when traveling with the team or sitting on the bench.
It is why you see so many public service announcements with pro players doing things for the community. Michael Vick has to earn a second chance at redemption. Spending time in jail simply is not good enough.
There are plenty of ex convicts that paid their debt to society only to repeat the offense again. Vick must show that he understands that dogfighting is abuse, that it is reprehensible, and that it inflicts pain and suffering.
When you commit an atrocity of Vick's magnitude and you are a public figure you need to step correct in an even larger capacity. Michael Vick must make amends for his transgressions not simply for the NFL, the advertisers, the fans, but himself.
Because he is a public figure he needs to show in a public capacity that he is motivated to bringing an end to dogfighting. If he is truly repentant you can bet that animal organizations would love to have him speaking out against his crimes.
It would create controversy, generate donations, and it would help promote animal welfare. Of course the NFL, advertisers, parents... you get the point would love this as well.
There is no doubt that Vick is a remarkable talent. But he has not earned the right to play in the NFL. He can certainly work to make that a reality, but no one is going to just give him a chance.
They are going to make certain all their concerns are addressed and that Vick has shown that he full appreciates the severity of his crime and is doing something to mitigate the public relations impediment his presence brings.
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