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.
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