The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Contrition Aids PR


I don't think there's any way to know for sure at this point whether Michael Vick will ever play again in the NFL. This story still needs to play itself out.

I do think the chance is there for Vick if he conducts himself in the right way from this point forward.

When Vick resolved the state charges against him with his guilty plea Tuesday, he made himself eligible to serve the final portion of his federal prison term in a halfway house. He's scheduled to be released from prison in July 2009. His attorneys have indicated in bankruptcy court proceedings that Vick expects to play in the NFL again. But his team, the Falcons, has indicated that it doesn't want him back, and he remains on indefinite suspension by the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell must rule at some point on Vick's eligibility to play.

And even if he's ruled eligible by the commissioner, there's the issue of finding a team that's willing to sign him.

Clearly he's intriguing as a player. Obviously he has the talent to return to the league. He was a one-of-a-kind player, and he could be a dynamic running back or wide receiver or all-purpose player even if talent evaluators are wary that his skills as a quarterback might be rusty.

But any team that considers signing him will have to weigh the public relations ramifications:

Do you want protesters outside your practice facility and your stadium?

Will your fans stand for it?

You can't afford to alienate too many of your customers, particularly in this economic climate.

Ever since last summer, when the emotions of this story were at their peak, I've thought that Vick probably would play again in the NFL at some point. Time heals most wounds. The American public usually is forgiving.

But Vick has to do his part.

He will have served his time in prison. He will have gone through the legal process and he will have paid his debt to society. He will be all but broke, it appears from the bankruptcy proceedings.

The next step for him is be contrite, to show the public at some point when he starts doing interviews that he really is sorry and he really takes responsibility for what he did and he really has changed as a person. The public can only change its feelings about him and begin to forgive him if he allows all of that to happen.

Only if that healing process is taking place will a team feel like it can afford to sign him.

By Mark Maske  |  November 26, 2008; 3:15 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I marvel at the irony of pondering the reinstating of Michael Vick on the anniversary of Sean Taylor's death.

Sean Taylor's death: an NFL player who, in the past and (arguably) the present, was involved in criminal activity and violent living, sees his career (and, unfortunately, his life) end in one act of violence.

Michael Vick's convictions: an NFL player who, in the past and up to that time, was involved in criminal activity and violent living . . . and saw his career (and, at least for the time being, his wealthy performer life) end after a series of violent acts to living creatures.

I believe people with a conscience view the Michael Vick case through the lens of what he did to exploit, manipulate, torture, and kill living beings -- not about the cover-up and the blemish to NFL public relations.

Depending on the context, we could intelligently discuss the exploitation, manipulation, torturing, and killing of African-born American slaves with compassion and horror. I think we should also discuss this African-American (rich and powerful) binding helpless, defenseless animals in chains and beating or electrocuting them to death -- or slamming them against concrete -- with compassion (for the dogs), horror (at our society), and irony (toward a black athlete enslaving vicious beasts).

With all that in mind . . . why should I or anyone give a damn whether Michael Vick plays professional football again?

Posted by: Matthew Katz | November 26, 2008 10:50 AM

I will boycott NFL football if Michael Vick is reinstated.

I did it before when Major League Baseball players went on strike (were locked out?) and didn't finish the season. I boycotted baseball for many years until the Nationals came. For example, I am a proud Washingtonian who can honestly say I have never been to Camden Yards. No, I did not miss it. When the Nationals came, I had no idea who the players were in the major leagues. Baseball had been my absolute favorite sport as a kid and I just said "No."

In fact, I also boycotted Sports Illustrated. I told them I would not renew my subscription for as long as Washington, DC did not have a team. Since it was in their economic interest to sell magazines to the DC market, they had leverage to lobby MLB for the return of baseball to DC. I expected them to act on it.

If the NFL reinstates Vick, I will boycott the NFL probably for the rest of my life (I'm getting old as it is).

I invite all like-minded fans to join me.

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | November 26, 2008 12:37 PM

I'll definitely be joining rb-freedom-for-all, more or less. I've never followed football as closely as other sports, but if Vick is reinstated, even in this economic climate I will happily show up for the chance to pelt him with dog waste. Somehow, however, I doubt I'd be able to get a place, given the number of people who will have had the idea first.

Posted by: Beth | November 26, 2008 2:40 PM

If the first thing Vick should do is to show contrition, then he will do so only to improve his chances of getting back into the NFL.

How exactly do we know that this contrition is sincere, and not just another PR spin for the media?

Why would he now be sorry he and his savage friends engaged in this digusting "sport"? Because he was sent to jail for it? I wonder if he still feels the way Joey Porter put it last week: "they're just dogs".

Had these atoricities not been discovered, he would still be doing it. So contrition from him is difficult to ascertain, given that at the end of the tunnel is his main goal: to play in the NFL again and start earning millions.

If my club even thinks about going after him, I will immediately stop supporting them.

Posted by: beastfan | November 26, 2008 3:46 PM

If a person breaks the law and is brought to justice do they have to pay for their mistake and bad decisions for the rest of their life? Maybe this is what is wrong with all of us..we never want to forgive and let a person have a second chance at life. Seems to me Mr. Vick admitted his guilt,went to prison and will soon be free to go forward in life..if we let him that is.

Posted by: marjamund | November 27, 2008 11:07 AM

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