I know the 2010 football season is behind us but I just came across this article in Sports Illustrated that I think is still relevant today.
In talking with reporter S. L Price for the article, “Is it O.K. to Cheer?” (Nov 29, 2010), Michael Vick said, “That’s the truth. I had to go through what I went through to be where I am now.”
This prompted Price to reflect:
“People speak of being conflicted about watching Vick, hating his crime and loving his game, as if the two can be separated. They can’t. Think about it: Can it be that only hard time, earned by vile acts, made Vick the player he is now? For Vick to touch greatness, did dogs have to die?
As long as he keeps playing, and winning, those questions and that uncomfortable sensation aren’t going away. We’re seeing something special now but have no choice except to hear, amid the highlight banter and the roaring crowd, a sound rise as if from the cellar. The scrape of tooth on bone: It, too, is a part of every wondrous pass, every perfect decision Michael Vick makes.”
The article is worth a read. Balanced, understanding, yet unflinching in observation, the piece ultimately is less about Vick and more about us. Forgiving Vick is one thing. But it’s something entirely different to emancipate him from his actions, as he and his supporters are asking us to do every time he steps out onto the field.
And that begs the question: What does a second chance look like? After all, Vick was doing just fine as a construction worker after his release from prison.
I bring this up today because I think we are all faced with giving, and receiving, second chances all the time in our own lives. Granted, most of us aren’t personally dealing with someone who maliciously beat, tortured, and killed dogs. But that certainly doesn’t mitigate our situations any. Baggage is baggage. Some of it is heavier than others. Who we choose to offer a second chance to is as personal a decision as who we choose to marry. But Price is right, it says a lot about who we are.
There is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to forgiveness, redemption, and “moving on.” The definition of “transgressions” is a moving target. But there are certain things I stand for and make no exceptions to. If you hit me, you will never be a part of my life again. If you steal from me, I will not even give you forgiveness let alone a second chance. And if you ever harm those who are the most innocent among us—children and animals—you deserve all the wrath this world can unleash on you, including mine.
Not sure what that says about me, but I’m okay with that.