Update Aug. 14: The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Michael Vick to a one year contract for $1.6 million with an option for a 2nd year for $5.2 million.
The deal really belies the claim by Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, that Vick must show "genine remorse"before he can be fully reinstated and play for the entire regular season. It seems unlikely the Eagles would have signed Vick to such a contract if there was any concern Goodell might not reinstate him fully. So what about the "genuine remorse" Goodell has insisted Vick must show to be fully reinstated in the NFL? (See ideas below)
Other than a couple of meetings arranged byÂ the Humane Society of the United States with some inner city youth, we haven’t seen any remorse. Not a word. Not a gesture. Nothing.
This drama played out over the last few months seems to have been nothing more than a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign with the goal of reinstating Vick in the NFL. The tough talk from Goodell has been nothing more than that….part of the PR to satisfy a public that has roundly condemned Vick and his use of dogs for fighting and his abuse and torture of them in ways no good person can begin to understand.
By failing to follow through on the requirement Vick show "genuine remorse", Goodell and the NFL and their advertising sponsors have signaled to young people that his crimes weren’t that bad, just don’t make his mistake of getting caught.
Original report: The National Football League has conditionally reinstated Michael Vick. Conditionally because he cannot play at least until the 6th game of the season, and he must demonstrate "genuine remorse" before he can do so. Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, has long said Vick must demonstrate "genuine remorse" for his crimes before he can play professional football once again.
Vick just completed house arrest on July 20, 2009, the end of a 23 month sentence for a guilty plea and conviction on federal charges of conspiracy to engage in gambling and dog fighting in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 USC §2156.
Many in professional football, including sports writers and fans, are eager for Vick’s return, insisting he has "suffered" enough of an "ordeal" for dog fighting. There has even been talk of a reality show starring Vick, maybe a book.
The implication from Vick’s supporters is always that he was caught doing something akin to having an affair or smoking pot. Something that shows a lapse in judgment, yes, but not even as serious as driving under the influence or domestic violence or worse. Their implication is that, after all, these were just animals. They roll their eyes at the thought that the "animal rights people" could keep this former football superstar from returning to the game. The game, the celebrity, the money, that is what is important. Don’t go too far with this "animal rights stuff".
As for Vick himself, any "genuine remorse" he may feel is not apparent. Â He has said almost nothing about the cruelty, the torture he inflicted on dogs that trusted him, dogs which by his own admission, he beat, strangled, drowned, hanged and slammed to the ground to kill them when they didn’t prove to be good enough fighters. He has not so much as mentioned, let alone demonstrated, remorse for the torture and abuse these dogs endured as Vick trained and forced them to fight.
It bears repeating that in the April 25, 2007 raid carried out by the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force (VAFTF) along with the Virginia State Police and Drug Task Force on Vick’s Surry County, Virginia property, authorities found: 54 dogs, some of which were chained to car axles buried in the ground; rape stands used to force fighting dogs to breed by restraining an aggressive female, "break" or "parting" stick used to pry open fighting dogs’ mouths during fights; treadmills and "slat mills" used to train dogs for fighting; steroids and controlled substances as well as vitamins, dietary and red blood cell supplements administered to fighting dogs, bloody strips of carpeting often found in dog fighting pits, a scale with a hook on it to weigh dogs; and a diuretic to stimulate urination after a fight. Sources report there was a great deal of blood in the attic of the house.
Vick initially denied knowing anything about any of this.
What should be expected? Many of the millions of Americans who love and respect animals, law enforcement, animal control, prosecutors, pet owners, teachers, students, children and animal welfare advocates believed Michael Vick should not return to the glamour and privilege of professional sports. They believed that like Pete Rose, he should pay this price for these monstrous crimes and fade from public view. They believed that then people would know that animals’ lives matter, that animal fighting and cruelty won’t be tolerated.
But Goodell and the NFL have decided Vick likely will regain the fame, fortune and life of privilege he once knew.
It would have been preferable if Goodell had not reinstated Vick or first demanded a demonstration of "genuine remorse". We don’t know if Goodell’s words are simply tough talk.
But let’s find out. Here is a list of ideas for Vick to demonstrate genuine remorse:
Fund education programs to teach youth about the cruelty of dog and all animal fighting and urge them to stop or avoid it and responsible pet ownership;
Talk to youth about the cruelty of dog and animal fighting and urge them to avoid it;
Demand all sports leagues have a zero tolerance policy against animal fighting and abuse;
Offer assistance including funding to law enforcement in investigating and busting animal fighting operations;
Testify in support of stronger animal fighting and animal cruelty laws;
Make PSAs or commercials or take out ads or billboards that discuss the cruelty of dog and all animal fighting;
Set up a foundation to pay for the care and placement of dogs he formerly owned that are now in sanctuaries or homes and also for dogs seized in future animal fighting busts.
Send these along with your own positive ideas to Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, Roger.Goodell2@nfl.net or National Football League
280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017, or call him at (212) 450-2000 or (212) 450-2027.
Go here and here for more information on the great strides that have been made in stopping animal fighting even since Vick’s arrest.
Go here for more information about the Vick case.