ROAD TO REDEMPTION: We’ve Only Just Begun

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PHAWKER: For obvious reasons, we have been thinking a lot about Michael Vick as of late. We have been thinking about the doggie Auschwitz he ran for six years for fun and for profit and about how it cost him everything: his career, his seven figure net worth, his freedom and, in some corners, his membership in the human race. We have also been thinking that this is what happens when you take a man out of the ‘hood but you don’t take the ‘hood out of the man. And while that may explain Vick’s crimes, it does not excuse them.

And we have also been thinking about crime and punishment and the notion of redemption — not just rehabilitating a toxic public image with the help of high-priced P.R. gurus but REAL you-just-might-get-into-heaven redemption — about what it takes to earn it and who bestows it upon you, and we have been thinking about how fascinating it will be to watch this play out in our front yard and how this city has been put in the curious position of being the first jury he will face in the court of public opinion. As of late we have even been thinking that Michael Vick deserves a second chance, that he was spanked and spanked hard, that he has paid his debt to societymichael-vick-blood-on-hands.jpg and he should be afforded the opportunity to redeem himself.

But after watching his appearance tonight on 60 Minutes, we came away with the distinct impression that Michael Vick still doesn’t really understand why what he did was so wrong. He understands that he got busted, that he lost all his money, that jail really sucks, that everybody, except maybe his mother, hates him, and that he has to go on TV and say how sorry he is over and over again. But he doesn’t seem to grasp that, in the eyes of society, there is no lower form of life than those who brutalize the helpless (which, for our purposes here, we will define as the sick and the dying, old people, children and animals) — let alone those who electrocute, shoot, lynch or body slam the helpless into the ground until dead. Especially when the helpless that we are talking about are creatures that most people consider a member of the family.

Before you can ask forgiveness you need to understand why you are asking. Here’s a hint: ‘So I can get my pro football career back on track while I still have a few high-earning seasons left in me’ is NOT the right answer. Vick never said that, of course, but you could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. As displays of contrition go, we give him a B for reading the script his handlers gave him, but we give him an F when it comes to convincing us those words came from his heart. Michael Vick may one day be redeemed, at least in our eyes, but that day wasn’t today.

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