For some reason, today The New York Times ran a column that dragged Michael Vick over the coals. The column pointed out the atrocities of Vick’s involvement in dog fighting, as if no one was aware of them. The point of the piece — other than to shake a morally righteous fist at Vick — seemed to be that NFL teams shouldn’t sign Vick, or anyone else who had made mistakes:
The cast of characters in Saturday’s game was a reminder of just how generous the league is with its ridiculous offers of second chances, like Vick’s. Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper made racist remarks about African-Americans — on a team filled with African-Americans — and still ended up starting in the playoffs, the recipient of roaring cheers. Saints Coach Sean Payton was suspended last year for a bounty program in which players were paid to inflict serious injuries on their opponents, and still he was hailed for ushering the Saints to their first ever road playoff win.
What can children who watch the game and idolize its players learn from that?
Here are some things that children can learn from Vick and others playing in the NFL:
That humans often make mistakes and can grow into better people by living through them; that life isn’t black and white, it’s mostly grey; that people deserve a chance to make things right; that no one is perfect; and that NFL players aren’t better than anyone else just because they’re pro athletes.
Vick committed horrible crimes, but he also went to jail for them, and since then, has tried to be a better man. He’s not an immaculate person, but who is? Aside from the author of this Times piece, we mean.