By Gregory Moore
Michael Vick is probably headed home by now in Hampton, VA.
A convicted felon now, Vick is about to endure the many trials and tribulations of being an ex-convict in today’s society.
But no ex-con has had more coverage in news cycles over the past 48 hours than Vick has; not even a guy like Leonard Little.
I’ve always been very harsh on athletes who think that because they can pound the rock or thread the needle with a sheet of pigskin that they deserve all the rights and privileges of guys who continue to do it the right way. I’ve always been harsher on Black athletes more than any other because well, let’s face it, the Black man has been held to a higher standard; even an unfair standard. Yet that doesn’t mean that being picked on by the bastions of society is a reason to act a complete ass.
Little was an ass and I think he is still an ass. I don’t think that he learned anything from his two DUI convictions, including one in which a mother and wife was killed.
Or what about Roy Jones who glorifies in the fact that he does cock fighting?
In August of 2007 I wrote an op/ed for a website that I am still involved in to some extent. Entitled ” Culture Won’t Change Because You Have Athletes Who Really Believe Vick Was In The Right“, the article was about why many professional athletes had the mentality that Michael Vick possessed in regards to doing criminal acts because of their “culture”. About a year earlier than this article, I had written about how Koren Robinson needed to be sat down by the new commissioner and possibly feel the pain of not being in the NFL fraternity. Entitled “Where Does An Employer’s Obligation End And A Player’s Responsibility Begin?“, I wrote about how Robinson’s actions could have been tragic and that his wayward ways of destruction were doing more harm to his then Minnesota Vikings’ teammates than any good.
But Vick’s trangressions are far beyond DUI or cockfighting and being proud of it.
Vick is convicted not just of dog fighting but of the federal crime of racketeering and funding an illegal gambling ring; something that the NFL has never had to deal with.
What made both of these articles unique and have semblance at the same time was the fact that ultimately the employer of these players had to take a stance somewhere and protect the corporation; not just the player.
That is why I am still so puzzled why everyone thinks Vick should come back to the NFL. What right does he have to be back in that fraternity and why should he be given the ‘free pass’ of allowing to step right back into the NFL lifestyle and onto somebody’s playing field?
Gambling in the NFL is severely frowned upon and Vick knew this. I wanted verification of what the league’s stance was on gambling activities and I found their policy on gambling on the league’s media website. The policy states in part ” The subject of bribes and gambling are covered each summer in special training-camp discussions with players by members of the League’s Security Department. You should be familiar with Paragraph 15 of your NFL Player Contract (entitled “INTEGRITY OF GAME”), which stresses these and related subjects”.
The paragraph also mentioned a sign that is posted in every NFL locker room which lists a partial listing of what is banned in reference to gambling. The fourth rule posted on that sign reads “Associating with gamblers or with gambling activities in a manner tending to bring discredit to the NFL”. The last paragraph reads, “Any such conduct may result in severe penalties, up to and including a fine and/or suspension from the NFL for life”.
Now that policy has been in effect long before Vick was even drafted and I’m sure that he and the 700 or so players in the league have read the material that was presented. Yet Vick went right ahead and bankrolled an illegal gambling operation and now he is asking the league to let him back in because he has learned his lesson.
And I’m asking you, the reader and/or supporter of Vick, why should he be given that chance after blatently violating something that has been posted in every locker room since he had been in the league?
The question everyone should be asking any Vick supporter is what other life skill does he possess. Joe Siegel, Vick’s agent, should be asking his client what will he do if he isn’t re-instated back in the league. His family and friends should be preparing themselves for life without football just on the oft chance that Vick’s career is sacked by Roger Goodell.
What shouldn’t happen is that the league or Goodell be looked upon as the entity or individual who stole Vick’s career and earning potential because he made a mistake.
They didn’t do that; Vick did.
The moment he violated rule #4 of the gambling policy, he rolled the dice on possibly being banned from the game for life.
Here’s my stance on this whole issue.
Vick deserves a chance at making a living.
I just don’t think he deserves that chance in the NFL.
He violated a cardinal rule that has been a part of the conduct policy for decades and if Vick comes back to the league, the policy itself becomes nothing more than words on a piece of paper that don’t mean squat.
Years ago Pete Rose violated a cardinal rule of baseball and he continues to pay the price of not being allowed be a part of the game.
Vick needs to serve that same penance because he committed the same crime.
At 28 years old, Vick has enough time to do something else besides throw the ball around on Sunday.
He can go back to school, finish getting his degree and possibly getting in the business of construction if he wants.
But getting paid to play on Sunday shouldn’t be an option.
As much as I enjoyed watching him play, the mere fact that he broke a cardinal rule of the NFL negates his opportunity and if Goodell wants to ensure that the integrity of the game stays intact for future players and fans, he’ll take this minor public relations hit and stick to his guns.
This isn’t about Vick playing football.
As I said in my article about Robinson, “Sometimes hard lessons need to come from when you have fallen hard into a deep sink hole. For Koren, this is a lesson that he needs to learn by himself or else he’ll continue to drink and drive and get paid millions of dollars by an employer that is enabling his bad behavior.”
That statement holds true for Vick as well.
I wish him well and I wish him much success.
But his days of having the shield on his body ended the moment he decided to break a game of integrity rule.