The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

He Has to Earn It

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Michael Vick sits in a Leavenworth, Kansas paying his debt to society. He is nearing both his release date, and a return to professional sports. As with all imperfect creatures known as human beings, he is deserving of a second chance. However, he must earn it.

Michael Vick had the world in the palm of his hand prior to his arrest and conviction. He was a talented athlete playing the most elite of positions in sports. He was one of the most marketable players in the history of the league. He has lost more than his football career; he has lost both his image and reputation. Now he must earn the right to play for the league, the teams, the players and the fans. He will, at the end of the day, control his destiny -- hopefully with the help of solid and honest assistance from his family, friends and counsel.

As we have seen in professional sports, second chances are invariably bestowed upon athletes who have been blessed with incredible physical attributes. If moderately talented players acted like a Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson, they would never be given a second chance by the league. The NFL's need for immediate success and its dearth of incredibly talented players will always give such talented yet troubled souls second and sometimes third chances to display their talents. In baseball, Steve Howe, the famed and moderately talented left handed (yet drug crazed) ballplayer seemed to have more chances then any player in the history of professional sports. This was due to his ability to get batters out from the left side, not his outstanding character.

In the Vick situation, it is up to Mr. Vick to start now, prior to his release to a half way house, and then his ultimate release, to begin the process of making amends for his crimes, apologizing for his actions and accepting responsibility for the same. There is no time like the present. He has nothing but time on his hands right now.

Additionally, he needs to work on his physical condition now and in the future. Teams will have a natural reluctance and skepticism about employing any player who has missed 2 full seasons, especially one who also does not appear in top physical condition. He should give new meaning to "lifting the prison weights" through his release. If teams see that he has any rust on his body, then this will kill his football return.

It will also be incumbent on his representation to make sure that he truly understands that this is his last chance at professional sports. This is a critical point. The player must make amends to all those people he wronged, accept total responsibility for his actions.

I am in no way passing judgment on dog fighting, right or wrong in this case. The reality is that Vick's transgressions seem to be more about covering up his illegal activities, than the actual acts themselves. Then again, how many times have we seen in history that it is the cover up and not the crime that gets people into more trouble?

Further though, Vick must also give up his selfish personality and attitude and become a quality team player; putting the good of the collective ahead of his own selfish desires. He must also do whatever he can to remake and resurrect his public image by giving back to his community, doing charitable work and showing people that he is truly sorry for all of the trouble, bad press and damage he has caused.

If Michael Vick can pull of all of this, prior to training camp 2009, he is then deserving of another chance. Numerous athletes have committed more egregious acts and have returned to playing sports and have received second chances. Michael Vick should be no different. In his prime, he was one of the most exciting, talented and dynamic players in football, who if given a second chance could add to the fabric of the greatest professional sports game on the planet. As a member of the NFL community and a fan, I can only hope he pulls it off.

By Peter Schaffer  |  November 26, 2008; 3:30 AM ET  | Category:  Crime , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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So a narcissistic, arrogant NFL quarterback will:

1. Apologize, and mean it, while accepting responsibility for his actions.

2. Actually have to prove to others that he can still play, rather than be taken at his word.

3. Changing his personality from a narcissitic, arrogant, selfish quarterback into one who is not.

4. And improve his public image from a dog murderer by doing charity work.

I'm sorry, Professor Schaffer, I just don't see that happening.

Posted by: quinty1984 | November 26, 2008 10:34 AM

I think MV paid far to high a price for his actions and that does not mean that he should have been let off the hook. Using MV as an example is not going to stop people from arranging dog fights which is what I think was the case with MV. I think its hypocritical to send someone to prison for dog fights buts its ok to allow people to kill for sport and I doubt if any animal will agree thats its ok.

Posted by: TROY | November 26, 2008 10:42 AM

DOG FIGHTING RINGS DISTRIBUTE ILLEGAL WEAPONS, NARCOTICS-PROMOTES VIOLENT CRIME, TERROR & NATIONAL SECURITY RISK

Dog fighting is now a national epidemic due to a poor economy. Though animal activists say dog fighting is a violation of a dogs' rights-it goes far beyond that-it violates the safety and even poses a NATIONAL SECURITY risk due to the distribution of cocaine and illegal weapons, including those firearms in the military--which may even include distributing bombs (remember these are violent criminals in these dog rings). DOG FIGHTING patronizes street gangs, *organized crime*, SKINHEADS, some members of the KKK, and violent criminals. These distributed guns are used in ARMED ROBBERIES-and ilicit drugs sold to our young. THAT is what the real issue is about in dog fighting--the distribution of instruments of such terror. Please keep our nation safe.

~~~Please support and help pass John Kerry's federal dog fighting bill S. 1880, H.R. 3219, and H.R. 3327 (the Dog Fighting Prohibition Act and the Federal Dog Protection Act), which would strengthen the penalties for illegal dogfighting and also prohibit the possession of fighting dogs and attendance at dogfights.~~~


THIS IS WHAT I SENT TO THE NFL--MY EMAIL TO THE NFL ABOUT MICHAEL VICK: You are talking about a football game: I refer to the safety of society. Although having paid a legal obligation to society, Michael Vick is forever tainted with the blood of dog fighting and once the NFL allows him to play again, he will-along with the NFL itself-in fact, by Vick strutting his stuff on the field, be PROMOTING dog fighting associated with the glamor of football, top money, and women. According to the Chicago Police, dog fighting is the sport of choice for drug traffickers as these violent CRIMINALS give these dogs cocaine and speed to make them more aggressive-and sell it to our nation's young as well; Dog fighting arena busts also confiscate illegal weapons-used in ARMED ROBBERIES. So dog fighting is a national scourage, that is getting worse due to a poor economy, and does promote violent crime by the distribution of said weapons and ilicit drugs. THAT is the damage Michael Vick will do by playing football again. This is NOT just a matter of animal cruelty: It is about human safety, the safety of children, even posing a potential threat to national security (illegal weapon exchanges). I feel the NFL has a moral obligation to our young, and allowing Vick to play again-will be destructive to society-and how many more dog fights will be encouraged and formed-and the human victims of violent crime and drug trafficking. Shame on you NFL.

Posted by: Luke Thomas | November 26, 2008 10:59 AM

I think he should spend the rest of his life rotting in jail. I think it's terrible that people put less value of a life of a dog than they do a life of a human. They are all God's creatures. They can all feel pain. They can all suffer. God might forgive Michael Vick, but I never will. Good riddance to the NFL if they hire him back. I'll never watch or support pro-football again if they take him back. The life of an animal should be just as important as the life of a person.

Posted by: MarylandJ | November 26, 2008 11:01 AM

marylandJ you're so full it. If you give up watching/supporting football if Vick comes back then you should have stopped with STL Ram Leonard Little got off for killing a mother of 3.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 26, 2008 11:22 AM

Anonymous, you took the words right out of my mouth! marylandj, since when does dog fighting become more criminal than killing a human, because of you. Leonard Little killed a human being. A mother! That whole situation got brush under the rug. And the sad thing is the NFL slapped him on the wrist! Not once, but twice. He's had the same offense more than once and was he blackballed, contracts snatched from him, indorsements revolked? NO!! And to top it off, HE STILL HAS A DRIVERS LICENSE!!!!Please come down off your high horse and stop using Vick as your whipping board.

Posted by: kevinjack1 | November 26, 2008 11:39 AM

He has to earn it by lifting weights and getting in shape???!!?? Are you f^ck1ng kidding me??? He has to earn it by getting electrocuted when he plays poorly. He has to earn it by giving about $50 million to the ASPCA. He is a thug with no empathic capacity.

Posted by: bruce2000 | November 26, 2008 12:28 PM

"Earn it"? Here's how he can earn it: get back in shape by jumping in the ring with a few trained killer pit bulls and giving them a change to bite back (literally).

Watching Michael Vick get mauled by pit bulls would make for a great pay-per-view event. Give the proceeds to the SPCA.

Posted by: "Earn it"? Dirtbag. | November 26, 2008 12:49 PM

I have yet to hear him show any remorse for what he and his savage friends did to those dogs. he has only apologised to his family, the kids and probably his accountant. that he can so coldly murder these dogs and enjoy watching these animals rip each other apart shows you what a savage scumbag he is!

Whichever NFL team offers to put him back into football will never get my support. The owners are partly to blame for enabling behaviour like this, because as long as you have talent, you can be the biggest a$$hole in the world, because character matters not to the NFL, MLB, or NBA.

Posted by: beastfan | November 26, 2008 12:53 PM

Those who come into the world with bodies ready, willing, and able to compete successfully in professional sports are lionized in our society. The problem is they don't necessarily come equipped with minds that help them cope with the fame and wealth that they, naturally, believe is their due. Mr. Vick's mind failed him. It would have told him to adjust the habits of lifetime so that he would appear to be the fine, upstanding young man that, as a professional athlete and entertainer, his employers expect him to be. Orenthal James Simpson had the act down. And even he blew it. You might think his employers would put these people through charm school to avoid loss of their services. But you'd think wrong.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | November 26, 2008 12:56 PM

The only thing Vick is sorry about is that he got caught and it's ruined him financialy! I am sure he will do or say whatever his bottom feeding lawyer/agent tells him to. Does anyone truly think he has any remorse for what he did? Any NFL team that signs him will be a paraiah. He should move to Korea where torturing dogs is normal.

Posted by: donmac | November 26, 2008 1:22 PM

As an Atlanta resident who saw all of the things Mike Vick did in the city I believe he deserves a second chance. The man is not a villian. He was a great community advocate who tirelessly worked on the behalf of children and other individuals. He was not only respected for his football skills but for his community involvement. Was fighting dogs wrong? YES! But is he some evil menace to society. NO! Read the letters of support written in court from the many people he has touched in his life. In Atlanta he was a cherished member of the city and the next city to get Vick will get the same charitable and community oriented guy. He has learned his lesson and is ready to repair his image.

Posted by: ATL Resident | November 26, 2008 1:36 PM

Vick was a "cherished member of the community"? Yeah, they say that about him in Leavenworth, too. Especially the guys in the shower.

Posted by: Ed | November 26, 2008 2:10 PM

Michael Vick can "earn it" by devoting the rest of his life working to help the victims, animal or human, of suffering like the kind he inflicted and perpetuated for his own amusement and profit. If he does that, he might have "earned it" by the time he's ninety or so. But to say that he can "earn it" by getting back in shape and being more of a "team player"? Particularly given how often animal-torturing sadists move up on up to humans, I'm not looking forward to seeing how this idea works out.

Posted by: Beth | November 26, 2008 2:25 PM

I thought people went to prison to pay for their crimes? Michael Vick has gone to prison. When he gets out he will have paid his debt to society. By Peter Schaffer's definition ANYONE who has ever gone to prison would have to "earn" a second chance at making a living. Really? That's smart. Deprive the parolee the chance at a normal life so he/she can only feel like "crime" is his/her only option.

Posted by: rcjr | November 26, 2008 2:35 PM

I've heard some defend Michael Vick--Whoopie Goldberg, to cite one prominent example--by saying that dog fighting is a tradition in the rural South. My response: So was slavery!

Posted by: Sandy | November 26, 2008 2:37 PM

I've heard some defend Michael Vick--Whoopie Goldberg, to cite one prominent person--by saying that dog fighting has long been a tradition in the rural South. My response: So was slavery!

Posted by: DC | November 26, 2008 2:39 PM

I so like the idea of having MV smeared with hamburger and being dropped into a ring with hungry pit bulls. Except it would perpetuate the bad press these beautiful dogs have because of scum like Michael Vick and his cronies. This POS has 4 beautiful horses yet has no idea where they are or who is caring for them. Contrite? Only about being caught. If he plays I only hope he gets maimed and looses all his teeth.

Posted by: Mizz E. | November 26, 2008 2:55 PM

MV may have paid his legal debt to society but he is a long way from paying his moral debt. He needs work to help animals in equal measure to what he did to harm them.

Posted by: jennifer | November 26, 2008 3:02 PM

"MV may have paid his legal debt to society but he is a long way from paying his moral debt. He needs work to help animals in equal measure to what he did to harm them."

I didn't know we had "moral" police in this country. You can't have things both ways. You can't say "pay your debt to society" and then turn around and say, "well I know you went to jail BUT we've now decided that's not enough."

Posted by: rcjr | November 26, 2008 3:12 PM

quinty1984

I think we will never know what Michael Vick is really made of if we don't as fans give him a chance to prove us wrong or right. Some of us have given him labels he did not have until he was caught. He was not regarded as selfish, arrogant or a psychopath until he was found to be involved in a dog fighting business. Actually people liked the guy before this all came out. So instead of making him die for all of our sins why not allow him to prove us right or wrong. If not we will only have our opinions to go by regarding his return to society or sports instead of facts based on his behavior once he returns. Now if he comes out, and starts displaying criminal behavior then we can chalk him up as a lost cause. I am sure he will not go back to dogfighting so what else was he doing that made him so unacceptable that he should be made into the countries worse villain? We just finished an election for president where people wanted to not vote for Obama based on what their perception of him was without giving him a chance to prove them right or wrong. People wanted to vote against him because his name indicated to them that he would be sympathetic to radical muslims. It would have been a sad day in this country had he lost because of peoples preconceived prejudices based on bias opinions.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 26, 2008 3:48 PM

WOW to say the least... i am ashamed of people in the world today, to think that an animal means more than a human wtf are you people serious?? if so i hope that you are vegans and locked indoors at all times for the sake of people living a normal life. i dont have the time to go on about what i really want to say but here is for starters:
1.do the names purnell peace, quanis phillips or tony taylor mean anything to you people? i doubt it because they are not pro athletes, nor do they get the attention vick does. look them up!
2.before all of this came out on vick what did you know about dogfighting, better yet what wrong doings did you hear vick being a part of? its ok ill wait.....
3.MARYLANDJ you sure do throw GOD out there a lot for being an unforgiving person! maybe you should have more faith in him and learn how to forgive what is already done instead of dwelling in it. YOU are not perfect for no one is!
4.LUKE THOMAS i think you are a joke! have you ever even been to an inner-city neighborhood? doesn't sound like it... you seriously think that dogfighting is a NATIONAL SECURITY risk due to a poor economy? look at the world today, this isn't due to dogfights! what's next rap music and video games? then to bring in cocain and illegal weapons, go to any big city and they aren't hard to find! also what in the world does skinheads and the kkk have to do with vick? NOTHING besides they probably want him dead for the color of his skin. completely irrelevant to the issue...it has to do with the way a person is raised and to me brenda did a damn good job. michael made a mistake yes, and let people down, but he could have made so many more. for him to grow up and do something with himself instead of sell drugs, kill PEOPLE, beat women etc. says something about the man! he fell a little short but he's human.
5.i have 3 pit bulls that i love with my life but i have had to fight for them since the day they were born. why? maybe one of you can answer that for me... they are known as a dangerous breed and at most places you have to lie to even have them allowed. but that wasn't so known until vick's dogs were pits. no one cared about my dogs or thousands of others, towns were trying to have them outlawed but now they are the same?? i will never understand what goes on in some people's heads
6.all i can do is pray for vick and his family and for the people out there that think a man should burn in hell or rot in a jail cell for making a mistake with his life. i am hopeful for his return to the nfl and will continue to be a strong supporter!

Posted by: cwest07 | November 26, 2008 3:51 PM

This has turned into a debate as to whether there are, or should be, consequences for a criminal act that go beyond the punishment handed out by law.

Posted by: Squeaky | November 26, 2008 4:10 PM

I am a dog owner and animal lover. I would spend my last penny keeping my dog safe & happy; however, I feel Vick deserves another chance and was unfairly treated in the first place. First, everyone is calling him a dog murderer, etc. He may have been bank-rolling the operation but he was not the one starving, hanging and torturing these animals. It was his "boys" that mooched off of him then snitched to save themselves. They are the murderers. I happened to go to VT when he was there and I would say 75% of the football team (both white and black)owned at least one pit bull. What do you think they were doing with these dogs? Why is Vick going down for the sins of all dogfighters? He should pay for his misdeeds but those rats who were diretly involved with the mistreatment should not have been allowed to plea out. My opinion is that Vick's major mistake was paying for all these losers once he made something of himself.

Posted by: KG | November 26, 2008 4:26 PM

THIS IS THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING I HAVE EVER READ:

THIS IS WHAT I SENT TO THE NFL--MY EMAIL TO THE NFL ABOUT MICHAEL VICK: You are talking about a football game: I refer to the safety of society. Although having paid a legal obligation to society, Michael Vick is forever tainted with the blood of dog fighting and once the NFL allows him to play again, he will-along with the NFL itself-in fact, by Vick strutting his stuff on the field, be PROMOTING dog fighting associated with the glamor of football, top money, and women. According to the Chicago Police, dog fighting is the sport of choice for drug traffickers as these violent CRIMINALS give these dogs cocaine and speed to make them more aggressive-and sell it to our nation's young as well; Dog fighting arena busts also confiscate illegal weapons-used in ARMED ROBBERIES. So dog fighting is a national scourage, that is getting worse due to a poor economy, and does promote violent crime by the distribution of said weapons and ilicit drugs. THAT is the damage Michael Vick will do by playing football again. This is NOT just a matter of animal cruelty: It is about human safety, the safety of children, even posing a potential threat to national security (illegal weapon exchanges). I feel the NFL has a moral obligation to our young, and allowing Vick to play again-will be destructive to society-and how many more dog fights will be encouraged and formed-and the human victims of violent crime and drug trafficking. Shame on you NFL.

Posted by: Luke Thomas | November 26, 2008 10:59 AM

LUKE THOMAS- You are being so extreme. I mean come on, you said "This is NOT just a matter of animal cruelty: It is about human safety, the safety of children, even posing a potential threat to national security (illegal weapon exchanges)." I LAUGH OUT LOUD. Michael Vick walking on a football field, earning a living for himself and his family, after paying his debt to society by spending nearly 2 years of his life in jail, DOES NOT POSE A THREAT TO ANYONE.

Everyone has a right to earn a living in this country. Michael has paid his debt to society and any "moral" debits you people created. He has loss million, his reputation, his good name, his career, his family, dignity, and anything else you can think of. After all of that now you Mr. LUKE THOMAS is saying he shouldn't play football because its not safe for society? I laugh out loud of how silly you are being.

Sarah Palin should resign from Governor for killing moose with machine guns.

No one says anything about dear hunting, bird hunting, fishing, etc.

So until society stops picking what animals are o.k. to kill and which ones arent, I dont want to hear anything about dog fighting.

Is dog fight wrong? YES! it is. And so is the hundreds of other animal "sports" out there. Stop being hypocrites!


FREE MICHAEL VICK AND LET HIM PLAY IN THE NFL,AND BE THE GREAT QUARTERBACK THAT REVOLUTIONIZED THAT POSITION, AND BROUGHT A NEW EXCITEMENT TO THE LEAGUE.

Posted by: Free Mick Vick | November 26, 2008 10:54 PM


I agree, that Vick has character flaws that make it unlikely that he can change for the better, but after one pays their debt, they deserve a second chance.

Posted by: noname | November 27, 2008 10:13 PM

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