I Pledge My Allegiance

by on January 31, 2011 · 5 comments

What would you do if Michael Vick joined the St. Louis Cardinals?

Obviously, that is not really a reasonable question.  It’s just the quickest way to get the point across.  I have a better question.  What would you do if someone who had committed the same crimes, served the same sentence, and had the same reputation as Michael Vick suddenly joined the St. Louis Cardinals?

This thought originally occurred to me during the most recent Philadelphia Eagles – Green Bay Packers regular season game.  I realize that Michael Vick is an incredibly polarizing figure, but I was a bit surprised at the amount of vitriol that was being directed at him as evidenced by my Twitter feed.  It was half-filled with people expressing various levels of hate, wishing him seemingly every kind of ill, and calling for every possible penalty in the book to be called against the Eagles.  Thankfully, the other half of my timeline consisted of people posting pictures of their cats, making jokes about the Cubs, and taking potshots at Jar Jar Binks, so the universe was in balance to a certain extent.

Still, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question that I already asked all of you.  What would you do?  Would you immediately abandon your St. Louis Cardinals’ fandom based on principle?  Would you somehow reconcile yourself to the fact that your favorite team had decided to employ someone who had served prison time for some cruel and heinous acts?  Would you simply continue to support the team but avoid buying one particular jersey?

I don’t claim to know everything about the Vick situation, but I do know that the big picture is much larger than the one you get in sound bites during NFL games.  The picture includes all the creditors that have a vested interest in Vick being a successful NFL quarterback.  While some may argue that creditors like the Atlanta Falcons don’t deserve to be repaid, because they were effectively gambling on getting rich off of Vick, I’d say that only represents a portion of the story.  Vick owes more than $600,000 in federal taxes.  In a certain sense, that money belongs to all of us.  To paraphrase a really crappy commercial, “it’s our money, and we need it now.”  Vick also owes smaller amounts of money to creditors that may not be able to absorb the loss quite as readily as the Falcons or the US Government.  Child support is another of his financial obligations.  In my humble opinion, it is the greatest of his obligations, and I don’t think he’d have the ability to easily catch up on those payments without the paychecks he cashes as a top NFL quarterback.

This doesn’t mean that I have sympathy or empathy for Michael Vick.  It does mean that when I see someone of stature fall from grace, I now understand that there are people off-camera who are hurt as well.

I am not Michael Vick’s judge or jury.  I find his crimes utterly reprehensible, but I do not know the man himself, and I’ve never walked a mile in his shoes.  I despise what he did, but I do not hate the man, and I’ve learned that hate is something that is far less worthy of attention than just about anything else ever invented.  If baseball’s version of Michael Vick came to play for St. Louis, it would be a tough pill to swallow as the saying goes.  I’d swallow it, although I’d probably wash it down with an icy cold Budweiser and proceed to brush my tongue afterwards.  I don’t know what I would do after that, but “hate” wouldn’t make the top 10.  What would you do?

TIDBIT: In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a dog lover, and I’m married to a dog lover.  We have 3 awesome dogs, and all 3 were adopted by us from animal rescue shelters.  My wife has often volunteered at a local shelter, and we often foster animals in our own home.  It’s safe to say that animal welfare is a cause that’s close to our hearts.

MORE BITS OF TID: This piece wasn’t originally about Michael Vick, but the hate-spewing returned last night during the NFL Pro Bowl and prompted a change.

Like it?  Have your own opinion on Vick you would like to share?  Find me on Twitter or drop a response by leaving a comment.

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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EM January 31, 2011

How come some people STILL dont like Mike? Vick’s comeback is American. He was scraping bottom and is now successful. Shouldnt we be happy for him?

Dennis February 1, 2011

Certainly, you can say that his comeback and being happy for him are both “American” things to do, I guess. You can also say that it’s “American” to dislike the guy, regardless of what he does the rest of his life. It’s “American” to change your mind at any point along the way as well. I would say that it’s equally “American” for him to slip up on his path to redemption as well. That’s one of the things that makes American great in my opinion. There is no singular aspect to the Vick story that is “American” more than any other aspect. People (including Vick) have the freedom to have their own opinions and express those opinions the way we are doing now.

It’s hard to paint everybody with the same brush and describe what “we” should be happy for. I know that I can safely say that I’m happy for anybody who has lost their way and found the right path for themselves.

Matt February 1, 2011

What’s more American than a second chance. I spent some time in Virginia Beach, where he was raised and it’s a lifestyle. How many sports figures have committed the crime, actually served the sentence and had a comeback like his. Watching him play this year was great, minus his “I’d like to get another dog comment.” Nobody was ready for that one. Tony Dungy has taken a personal interest in Vick (read Dungy’s Mentor Leader) and with that kind of leaderships and “coaching,” I think we have the opportunity to see many more great things out of him.

In St Louis I would hope this “Vick-esque” individual could find the right people, especially the self-motivation, to be mentored and coached to the comeback Vick has had. Isn’t America founded on New Beginnings and comebacks?

Dennis February 1, 2011

Matt, thanks for reading and the feedback. I couldn’t agree more about second chances and America.

My hope is that this “Vick-esque” person would find the support system and mentoring in any city, regardless of his/her profession. His comment about having a dog may have caught people off-guard, but it might have been the only thing that hasn’t been scripted, too. I’m really curious to see how he handles himself AFTER he finishes paying back his creditors and emerges from bankruptcy. That’s when he probably faces the toughest tests of all.

Butch Naessens February 15, 2011

I’m pretty much over the Vick thing. Good for him. The NFL has proven that a dog’s life is more important than protecting women from a predator I know, we’ve all heard this before, and I assume that most have thought it, but I’m just saying, Big Ben was only penalized 4 games (yes, if the NFL penalized him, he did something wrong) and Vick served prison time, lost many games and had to earn both his team and city’s respect.

Maybe the penalty would have been more for Ben if he were convicted of his crimes. I’m a Cardinal’s fan and would gladly accept someone like Vick over Ben. One seems to have “gotten it” and showed that he was truly sorry. The other one got his hand smacked and was not hurt in the pocketbook, and never showed real remorse. The game owes neither one of them, but Vick has acted more like a man. I don’t want to be “like Mike”. But so far, he has taken his punishment and earned my respect.

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