Vick would rather talk fumbles than dogs

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
5:06
PM ET
My sense of the way news works in 2012 tells me this is going to be a thing, so we might as well address it now. There was apparently a photo posted to the Twitter account of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick that showed him at home with his daughter and a box of dog treats. This has led to speculation that Vick, who spent a couple of years in prison for his role in organizing and maintaining a dogfighting ring, might now own a dog. Asked about this Wednesday, Vick said this, according to Philly.com:
"What goes on in my personal life is not to be talked about," Vick said. "What's more important right now is the Philadelphia Eagles and getting a win Sunday."

So here's my take, which I presume interests you, since here you are on my blog:

There are people who will never forgive Vick for his dogfighting crimes, and there are probably even a few more people who would tell you they don't think he should ever be allowed to own a dog again. With the way he conducted himself prior to his arrest and incarceration, Vick brought that on himself. He committed those crimes, and they left a stain that he can't wash off. People who want to hate him forever for his crimes are allowed to do so, and if they do, Vick has only himself to blame. I think this is fair, and I believe he knows and understands it.

However, the way Vick has conducted himself since his incarceration affords him the right to give the answer he gave and to direct the conversation back to football. If you believe that the goal of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate people who commit crimes and to send them back out into the world as productive citizens, then Vick is a prime example. He did his time. He adhered to the terms of his parole. He has been active as a community speaker with regard to animal cruelty as well as assorted issues facing trouble youth. Everyone from his sentencing judge to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell imposed a litany of requirements for Vick to meet after he got out of prison, and he has met them all. The behavior that landed him in prison was unconscionable and inexcusable, but without a time machine he can't go back and undo it. All he can do is conduct himself the way he has since his release -- which is to say more or less flawlessly.

If the terms of his parole say he can now own a dog, and he wants his children to have a dog, I think he should be able to own a dog. I don't believe for a second, after all he's gone through, that there's even an 0.00000001 percent chance that Vick would ever harm a dog again. This is a man who has clearly learned his lessons, and if he's done what's required of him as a result of his crimes, he should be allowed to live his life as he pleases. That's my opinion, though I know many will disagree.

My larger point, however, is that the way Vick has acted since prison has earned him the right to tell us all to mind our own business on this topic. I think it's worth pointing out that he appears to have done so politely and professionally. Once again, this is a man hard at work on maintaining the right kind of outward impression, because he knows how important it is to his life and his livelihood.

So he's rather talk about his fumbling problem, of which he says this:
"It's totally my responsibility to take care of the ball and move on, especially for the sake of this football team. It's something I've got to get corrected. I set a goal for [eliminating] interceptions, and I've got to set another goal."

I imagine it's something he can pull off, if he sets his mind to it. And I think that when he does, the Eagles' offense has a chance to get a lot better than it's been so far. Vick is a complex and, for Eagles fans, sometimes frustrating individual with a lot going on in his life on and off the field. He seems to be handling most of the stuff pretty well, and I think most Eagles fans are more concerned about whether he can hold onto the ball the rest of the year than they are about whether a grown man who's legally allowed to own a dog does or does not.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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