Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterbackMichael Vick
(7) looks on as quarterbackNick Foles
(9) warms up before the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets signed Michael Vick to a one year, $5 million contract to compete with/backup Geno Smith on Friday immediately after cutting Mark Sanchez. Vick has a familiarity with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s offense while they were both in Philadelphia together, and he has a similar skill set to Geno Smith, so the offense would not have to change no matter the quarterback. He has durability concerns as well as being prone to turnovers but nothing compared to Sanchez’s final two years. If you want to read a good article on the football reasons against bringing in Vick, here is one from our own Alan Schechter which you can read here.
Football reasons are not why the fan base is fractured on the signing of Vick. In 2007, Michael Vick was found guilty of federal dogfighting charges for his bankrolling and involvement with Bad News Kennels, which included the dogfighting itself as well as horrific accounts of killing underperforming dogs by extraordinary means such as electrocution and drowning. He was sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison which was above the sentencing guidelines included in his plea deal. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimated that Vick had lost $142 million dollars as a result of his crimes including $72 million in salary, $50 million in endorsements and $20 million of bonuses he had to pay back to the Falcons. Vick had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2008. All information gathered from an ESPN.com article entitled “Apologetic Vick gets 23-month sentence on dogfighting charges” from December 11, 2007.
The Senate Congressional Record from February 14, 2002 says this about felons released from prison after serving their sentence:
Whatever the procedure is, however the person has been adjudicated by the criminal justice system, once that person has served the sentence and is out of jail, once that person has served probation or parole, as far as the criminal justice system that individual has paid their debt to society. (United States of America Congressional Record, February 14, 2002)
Oct 27, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) before the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
So Vick has paid his debt to society legally, he certainly paid for it financially with the loss of $142 million dollars in income and he has paid for it with his reputation, as he went from a popular figure liked by the masses to one of the most hated men in America. But how has rebounded from all this? Did he learn his lesson, mature and become a better, rehabilitated person? Here is a quote from Chip Kelly that sheds some light on the Michael Vick of 2013-14:
“Unfortunately, he got hurt and that gave an opportunity to another guy,” said Eagles head Chip Kelly. “I think sometimes for a lot of people, you put yourself in those shoes, that’s hard to wrap your arms around because it’s not like Michael was wrong and got benched. It was just a unique situation and I think how (he) helped Nick through the process, it just tells you the type of person he is and I think that didn’t go unnoticed by me and I appreciate everything he did my first year here.” (The Chris Murray Report, Fond Farewell: Michael Vick Unlikely to Return to Eagles in 2014, January 7, 2014)
Here is another quote from the same article, this time from owner Jeffrey Lurie:
“Michael has been impressive to us, I’m sure to you guys, but also to us internally,” Lurie said. “Incredibly mature as a teammate, a leader, somebody who helped Nick tremendously, he has been a joy to have. He represented the team always with class.”
Vick was given the Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates after his return to league in 2009 with the Eagles for his role as a leader, both in the locker room and the community. This 2009 quote best exemplifies Vick’s mindset and the kind of player the Jets have acquired:
“It was a big obstacle proving I’m worthy of a second chance,” Vick said. “It doesn’t stop here. I have to continue to prove that. I think it’s not going to be a day-to-day process, it’s going to be a year-in, year-out process. It’s a challenge to myself. The thing I told Roger is that four or five years from now, I’m going to come to him and say, ‘Everything I told you I was going to do, I’m still doing it.’ And that’s what I pride myself on and that’s my focus and that’s my goal.”
It has been seven years since his arrest and the low point of his life but Vick has battled back, paid his dues to the government and society. Most importantly he was rehabilitated and has come back as a more mature, improved version of himself. Everyone says that people deserve second chances and after all Vick has done to change his life he deserves to be measured by what he does on the field not the person he is assumed to be off it.