Tag Archives: Football

It’s Time We Let Michael Vick Off the Leash

7 Jan


This past Saturday, I joined most of America in watching the NFL Wildcard games. As I scrolled through my phone, scanning Twitter and Facebook, the overwhelming trend of the day was Ray Lewis. As he stepped on the field for his last home game, posts flooded my screen about what an icon he was, his legend, his unforgettable accomplishments.

It’s almost as if he was never an accessory to murder.

In case you are unaware, Ray Lewis was an accessory in the 2000 murder of Atlanta’s Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar- whose girlfriend was about seven months pregnant with his daughter at the time. What resulted was a messy court proceeding  that still remains unresolved. Instead of facing charges for his crime, Lewis accepted a plea deal to testify against his two friends and earned him only a year of probation and a fine from the NFL. Two men still remain dead with no one to blame, one little girl lives without ever knowing her father. The next year, Lewis was named Super Bowl MVP.

Meanwhile Philadelphia’s quarterback (for how long, is yet to be determined) Michael Vick is still facing an endless backlash for the dog fighting scandal that led to almost two years in jail and bankruptcy. When he joined the team in 2009 I was among the many to condemn him and Andy Reid. I despised the Eagles, and refused to watch. But then I saw what a changed man he was, and how hard Vick was working to right his wrongs, and my opinions have changed. I just wish that more people would see what change can do.

The point of our country’s federal prisons is to rehabilitate criminals to make them safe and substantial members of society.  Since his release from prison, Michael Vick has campaigned against dog fighting, joining the Humane Society‘s End Cruelty and Fighting Campaign and Pets for Life in a public fight to teach others from his mistakes. Meanwhile he continued to promote his own foundations within the community, Team Vick and the Michael Vick Foundation, and worked with the Eagles, while serving as a shining example of single fatherhood and tackling the challenging schedule of a professional athlete.  He is proof of the benefits of our judicial system, but he’s still received by most as a criminal, a monster. What’s the point of our federal courts if their benefits go unnoticed?

There’s a huge difference between Vick and Lewis and that lies entirely in the court system. Michael Vick owned up to his crimes and payed the price, while Lewis took a plea deal to testify against his two friends and save himself. Lewis never came forward to take responsibility for the night of his crime. Vick did his time, and Lewis sold out.

A real hero, a true legend, is not determined on the field. They are found in their actions off the field, in their ability to right their wrongs and help others along the way. Ray Lewis has done nothing to publicly own up to what he did: even if he didn’t stick the knife in, he lied to police and did nothing to help bring justice to two murdered men. Then he put on a helmet and won a few games, and suddenly to his fans all is forgiven. Maybe if Michael Vick went further this season, or got a Superbowl ring since his release, he would be more of a hero. But is that how we as a nation should judge our legends?

Making Sense of Penn State

24 Jul

In the last few weeks the Penn State University scandal has completely blown up to reveal a lot of truths, and people are scrambling to  make sense of it all. Authorities are fighting to put things to rest, blame those who should be blamed, and move on, and the rest of us are all left with our own emotions of what’s going on.

Me? I’m glad Sandusky is where he belongs. I’m still upset that it took so long to get him behind bars, and there are things that I really can’t shake. In his older age he is now facing a harsh and terrifying reality, but he got to live a very long life before he was confronted with any penalties or pain. His victims, however, weren’t so lucky. He threw these children into a complete tailspin before they had a chance to really grow, he altered and damaged their lives before they even began. They didn’t have the opportunity to grow up and grow old before their lives were destroyed by him. And there is nothing that will ever fix that. No amount of time spent behind bars will ever give those children the full life every child should have. So is there justice? I don’t think there ever can be. At least the public can rest easy knowing he can’t ever hurt a child again.

When the Freeh Report came out I was really at a loss for words. I wouldn’t admit to myself for the longest time that a coach that I had so much respect for could do something like that. On Saturdays, when a shot of Joe Paterno flashed on the screen, my heart picked up a bit. And when he passed away last winter I felt truly sad, because I thought he left the world misunderstood and unappreciated. He was a legend. He was the greatest coach that ever lived. And then all of the sudden I learned that he really wasn’t. His greatness was measured in wins, and his discretion went hidden behind title after title. He’s no longer a hero to me, and in a way he never really was. His statue needed to go down, and I was heartbroken to see it. Not because I didn’t want it taken down, but because I couldn’t believe that he had deceived us all so horribly.

The latest ruling by the NCAA, abdicating the wins for the last 14 seasons and banning the team from bowl games for the next 4 years, was in my opinion unnecessary. I understand what they are trying to do: wipe away the legacy of Joe Paterno and show that this type of neglect will never be tolerated. And that has to be done, but not necessarily by the NCAA whose job is mainly to prevent student exploitation. In that process they are not helping students, who were never involved in this scandal. Sure, they are punishing the bad guys but they are also wiping away 14 years of student history, attempting to take away wins from the students who have been made playing pieces in this terrible scandal. I had wished that they would have found a way to punish those that deserved it without hurting those that shouldn’t have been hurt.

Finally I look at the students of Penn State and am a little shocked at their insensitive reactions. Tears over football games? Running through the streets to defend your coach? I understand school pride, but that should not come first in regards to human decency. Plenty of people shed tears over the victims of this horrible scandal, as they should have, but the students who sat crying together when they found out that their team couldn’t play bowl games for four years looked plain selfish. I didn’t agree with the NCAA ruling either, but I respect the NCAA for taking a stand for what is right. Extremities were needed to pay homage to the victims and to show America that football does not come before the rights of every person.

Overall, as a sports fan, I am still hurt by what happened. I wish it had never happened. But as a person, I am glad that so much has been done to assure that bad people are punished and no longer glorified. At the end of the day, PSU football is just a sport.