Am I the only one who is sick and tired of the media coverage of NFL quarterback Michael Vick—post incarceration? Last July I wrote a column titled, “Michael Is A Vick-tim.” I discussed Vick’s going to jail for nearly two years for killing a couple of dogs.
He has served his time and is now playing football again in the NFL. He has had a stellar season as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Since leaving jail earlier this year, he has done all the right things and continues to speak out against animal cruelty on behalf of the Humane Society.
So, you ask, what am I angry about?
Why is it that every time Vick is interviewed on radio, TV, or newspaper, there has to be some mention of him serving jail time for killing dogs? ENOUGH! Vick has served his time and owes no one anything and he should be free to live his life beyond the shadow of his past.
As I reflected on Vick’s situation, the first thought I had was that this was because Vick was Black. But, then I thought further and realized that it wasn’t about race.
Ray Lewis, future Hall of Fame linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, was jailed on murder charges in 2000, but was later acquitted. You rarely if ever hear this being mentioned when Lewis is interviewed. He is also Black.
You never hear the name Monica Lewinsky when Bill Clinton is interviewed (mind you that Bill Clinton was impeached as a result of the Lewinsky affair).
You never hear about Donald Trump’s many bankruptcies when he is interviewed.
Allow me to continue.
Diana Taurasi, an all-star guard of the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, was convicted of DUI in the summer of 2009. I have never heard this mentioned during any of their games on TV.
Marv Albert, famed NBA TV announcer, pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges (the more serious charge of rape was dropped). He was fired from announcing the games on NBC. But, less than 2 years later, NBC rehired him and you have not heard one word about his conviction since.
Even Tiger Woods messy divorce is no longer discussed when talking about Woods and it’s only been barely over a year since his private life exploded onto the national scene.
So, what can we conclude about all this?
Well, it seems to me that if you are a celebrity and you commit a crime or violent act against another person–no problem. If you cheat your bankers or file for bankruptcy, no problem. You still will be considered a financial guru by the Wall Street Journal (i.e. Donald Trump).
But, God forbid you kill or torture a few animals! You will never be forgiven, nor allowed to move beyond your past; even if your life shows a total change.
How can a sportscaster laud Michael Vick throwing an acrobatic touchdown pass, but yet somehow find a way to mention that Vick served time in jail?
How can Vick have arguably one of the best games in football history (3 weeks ago against the Washington Redskins) and the conversation turns to him abusing animals?
Vick has paid his dues to society and no longer owes anyone anything! His life has been the model of redemption. That should be the only relevance of Vick’s past.
But, because Vick’s crime centered around animals, it seems like people are less willing to forgive and let go. Ray Lewis was implicated in the murder of a human, but it seems like he had an easier time moving beyond his transgression than Vick is having.
Donte Stallworth (receiver for the Baltimore Ravens) was convicted of manslaughter. He killed a man while driving drunk. Yet, he is shown more forgiveness than Vick.
So, Michael, let me offer you my advice as one who works in public relations. First, Michael, stop apologizing. You no longer owe society anything. Second, tell the media you will no longer talk about your past. When you were a child, you spoke as a child, but now that you are a man, you have put those childish things behind you. Finally, Michael, when the media insists that you answer their questions about your past, simply say my life is the only voice that I am now speaking with.
I am very proud of Michael Vick and the distance he has traveled. I hope he will win a Super Bowl ring before his career is over. What an exclamation point that would add to his life. We all are one bad decision away from doing something stupid. If Vick continues to live his life the way he has since getting out of prison, he will have transformed his life from one of being a “Vick-tim to one of “Vick-tory.”
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com) & U.S. Africa Magazine (www.usafricaonline.com).)