Cleve Francis
cardiologist, musician

Cleve Francis

Cardiologist; President, Mount Vernon Cardiology Associates, Alexandria, Va.; musician.


Wanting to believe

Q: After serving prison time for running a dog-fighting operation, Michael Vick has come back stronger than ever as a football star -- and, some say, as a man. Has Vick succeeded in redeeming himself? If so, how much does his artistry on the gridiron and our love of the comeback/redemption narrative have to do with it?

Without redemption, it's one mistake and you are done -- forever.

It is very probable that many of us have done things that we know were wrong (whether it became public knowledge or not). We all need a way out. Redemption is both external and internal.

In Vick's case, he was publicly humiliated, paid a price financially and also served time in prison. He was taken away from the very thing that he loved to do professionally. He paid back to society the debt that we have legally agreed he should pay.

From my readings, since his release from prison, Vick has been mentored by the respected coach Tony Dungy. If I am not mistaken, he has distanced himself from the sport of dog fighting and has been helping to persuade others not to get involved in this illegal sport. I'm not sure that that is much more he can do publicly that he has not done.
I also realize that there are some among us who can never forgive him.

In Michael Vick, we see an athlete who has been given a second chance to prove himself worthy of our trust and admiration. He certainly is a gifted athlete. Even as we watch him on the football field, I doubt that we will ever forget what he was once capable of doing when it came to cruelty to animals. At the same time, I think we're all thankful that one young man was able to learn from his mistakes and turn his life around.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes this kind of "fall from grace" to transform some into instruments of leadership. Internally we can never know what is truly is in his heart, but I would like to believe that Vick's redemption has also been internal, and that he personally regrets his actions and will be able to forgive himself.

By Cleve Francis  |  November 22, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Comeback attempts , The comeback Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I have heard Michael Vick talking to young boys about what he did wrong. I have seen the light go on in their eyes when he comes into the room. I hope he is making a difference. But please, don't refer to dog fighting as a "sport."

Posted by: abbyowner1 | November 23, 2010 1:52 PM
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Wow, Cleve, a cardiologist that does not have a heart! Too bad for your human patients, how's that malpractice suit turning out?

Posted by: FriendofKeyserSoze | November 22, 2010 11:05 PM
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Michael Vick seems to be "walking the walk" and "talking the talk" when it comes to attempting to lead his life as a law-abiding citizen of this country. He has paid his debt to society and had managed to keep himself in good enough shape to pursue his profession of football. Let's let him keep doing what he is doing and stop casting doubt when none is needed. Having him lead a lawful life is certainly better than paying to keep him behind bars.

Posted by: nb3c | November 22, 2010 10:51 PM
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