Green Room

On Second Chances: Ted Williams vs. Michael Vick

posted at 4:59 pm on January 9, 2011 by

Ted Williams was all the rage these last couple of days in the blogosphere and on cable news. In case you happen to be living under a rock this past week, Ted Williams is the homeless man who was a former radio announcer with a “golden voice” who fell into trouble with drugs and alcohol. Williams lost everything in 1993 and became homeless, only to have his life change this week when a video of him demonstrating his God given talent on the side of a Columbus, Ohio highway went viral.

Well, within a couple of days of the above video getting national exposure, Mr. Williams was offered a job as an announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was even invited on The Today Show and asked to do the opening voice-over for the show.

So, why has America fallen in love with Ted Williams? Simple. Americans love the story of an underdog making good–and, we are all about giving people second chances. (See the hit movies Rocky, Braveheart, Invincible, The Pursuit of Happyness and Rudy as examples of American’s love of second chances and redemption.) In fact, America, was, literally, built by tired, huddled masses of people coming to a new land in order to get a second chance. I think that the movie Kingdom of Heaven sums up the American spirit–with regard to second chances–best (even though the film takes place in Medieval Europe/Jerusalem) when Balian’s father (Liam Neeson) tells Balian (Orlando Bloom) that, even though he’s been charged with a crime and his wife has committed suicide, he can redeem himself by going to Jerusalem to fight the Crusade. To be specific, Balian’s father said the following about Jerusalem:

“There, you are not what you were born, but what you have it in yourself to be.”

Yes, and in America, you are not what you were born–or what you might have been–but what what you have it in yourself to be. Ted Williams might have been a former drug addict and petty criminal who was cheerfully panhandling by the highway hoping to get a second chance at life (and not blaming anyone for his mistakes but himself), but today, he is a national celebrity known for his “golden voice”. He is the quintessential Prodigal Son.

Naturally, all of this talk of second chances makes one think of Michael Vick. Michael Vick was the man with with not only a golden arm, but golden legs as well (which is unusual for a quarterback). However, when he played football for the Atlanta Falcons (prior to going to prison for dog fighting), he was not exactly a model player. Vick was known as a slacker who was frequently late for practice, he was busted for pot possession at the airport, and he was even fined for flipping off the Atlanta Falcons fans. So, when Vick’s dog fighting scandal broke, it was especially shocking–particularly because he had been given so much and so many chances before. As it says in the book of Luke:

“To whom much is given, of him much will be required.”

And, Michael Vick was given a lot–a whole lot. He is gifted with an incredible talent, and was given millions of dollars in contracts and endorsements. And how did he pay back his fellow Americans who made him rich and famous by buying tickets to his games? Vick paid them back not by, say, volunteering in a homeless shelter, but by fighting, torturing and murdering dogs (i.e., man’s best friend). To quote the LA Examiner (H/T Adrienne’s Corner):

According to the prosecutor’s statement of facts in the case, between 2002 and 2007 Michael Vick and his co-conspirators Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor killed thirteen dogs by various methods including wetting one dog down and electrocuting her, hanging, drowning and shooting others and, in at least one case, by slamming a dog’s body to the ground.

Michael Vick didn’t make a mistake. He didn’t “make a bad choice.” Over a period of five years he forced dogs into deadly fights, and he personally killed, or conspired to kill, thirteen dogs. He didn’t pick a quick, painless method of killing, but instead chose a variety of means that qualify as torture. Pit Bulls are powerful dogs. Imagine how hard you would have to work to kill a Pit Bull by forcibly drowning him.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reports, “Sometimes [the dogs] were starved to make them more vicious in the pit.”

And Michael Vick didn’t confine the abuse and killing to his own Pit Bulls.

According to a November 2008 ESPN.com news story, a report prepared by the USDA’s inspector general-investigations division revealed that Vick, Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor also put family pet dogs into the ring with trained pit bulls.

The report, dated Aug. 28, 2008, says, “Vick, Peace and Phillips thought it was funny to watch the pit bull dogs belonging to [Vick’s] Bad Newz Kennels injure or kill the other dogs.”

[Adrienne has some pictures of Michael Vick’s extracurricular activities–warning, the photos are gruesome.]

On a personal note, when this story about Michael Vick’s atrocities exploded, it hit me particularly hard. My dog Molly (who was a rescue dog) had recently been diagnosed with a fibrosarcoma of her lower jaw and had to have part of her lower jaw surgically removed. Well, a few months later her cancer came back and she was given just months to live–even with chemotherapy. However, being the fighter that she was, she held on for almost two years and passed away a little over a year ago. So, when I heard about Michael Vick–a man who had been given so much–torturing and murdering healthy dogs while my dog was fighting for her life…well, let’s just say that I had very strong feelings of dislike for Mr. Vick. (Below are some pictures of Molly.)

So, when President Obama called the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles (Mr. Vick’s current team) to praise him for “giving Michael Vick a second chance”, it kind of stuck in my craw a bit (just like it did with a lot of people). I mean, Michael Vick is not exactly your average felon–i.e., someone from the wrong side of the tracks who never got a break in life or got addicted to drugs, etc. On the contrary, he’s gotten plenty of breaks in life. To quote Richard Cohen:

“Vick got a second chance not because he deserves it but because he can play football. This is the lesson we can all take from this sorry episode. It’s one thing to be sorry. It’s much better to hit your man in the end zone”.

However, the good news is that not all athletes feel the same sense of entitlement that Michael Vick seemed to feel. Some actually get the whole, “To whom much is given, much is expected” thingy. Meet Rudy Favard. Allahpundit wrote about him a couple of days ago. He is just a senior in high school and the captain of his high school football team, but already, he understands just how lucky he is to have a healthy, strong body–so he helps out a family with a disabled son by carrying him up the stairs every night, because the father is too weak from heart surgery. (Drats–why is there water on my keyboard?)

So, in conclusion, Michael Vick might not “deserve” a second chance, but this is America and he’s got a lot of talent, so he gets one anyway. But you know what, I’m not that upset that he’s getting a second chance. Heck, it might turn out quite well in the long run. Just like Balian in Kingdom of Heaven who went from a criminal to a valiant knight/defender of Jerusalem, Michael Vick might go from an animal abuser to a very strong spokesman against cruelty to animals. Maybe his redemption is sincere–that’s for God to say, not for any of us to judge. After all, as Alex Knepper recently pointed out, Chris Brown (who beat up his girlfriend Rhianna last year) already seems to be blowing his second chance by taunting victims of sexual abuse on Twitter. Hey, at least Michael Vick appears to be doing all of the right things and showing public remorse for his crimes.

So I will take a deep breath and give Michael Vick his second chance–and I will hope that he has truly seen the error of his ways. However, please don’t ask me to forgive him just yet (I hope to eventually–forgiveness is good for the soul), and please, for the love of God, don’t ask me to celebrate him. No, right now, I prefer to celebrate Ted Williams and Rudy Favard. Hearing about their stories makes me feel good. With regard to Michael Vick, I will just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

This column is cross-posted from Parcbench, and it is also posted at The Minority Report, Right Wing News and Hillbillypolitics.

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What’s learned early in life has a lot to do with the way many people act and Vick is

someone from the wrong side of the tracks

All the breaks that a teenager and twenty-some year old might get doesn’t always change what they were. Sometimes it takes more living and some hard lessons. Sometimes nothing works.

I don’t that I’ll ever be a fan of Vick’s, but he served his sentence.

audiculous on January 9, 2011 at 8:49 PM

I agree that Michael Vick served his sentence, so if the Eagles want to give him a second chance, then he should get one (this is America after all).

However, what bothered me was the way that people were celebrating Vick as if he were some sort of hard luck story. As I previously stated, if Michael Vick proves himself to be truly remorseful, I might be able to forgive him one day (it appears that he is doing everything right, for the moment). But do keep in mind that many people “come from the wrong side of the tacks” and don’t have any of the breaks that Vick got–and the majority of those people manage to go through life without torturing and murdering dogs. Just a thought.

Take care. :-)

X0X0, Suzi

Susannah Fleetwood on January 9, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Not only has Vick served his sentence, but by at least anything seen publicly, he appears to have had a profound change in his way of thinking.

As for as Obama saying anything, he certainly waited until both the Eagles and Vick were headed for the playoffs.

As for me, I have a wait and see attitude, 2 years is not enough time except to keep allowing Vick to continue to make amends.

Kermit on January 9, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Believe me, I get you Suzannah, but I wonder if maybe people aren’t more celebrating the idea that of a second chance working than there any celebrating Vick.

We shall see.

(And Molly was a beauty)

audiculous on January 9, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Audiculous, thank you for the kind words about Molly. I really appreciate it.

Oh, and it’s entirely possible that some people got carried away with the whole “second chance” thingy, so they tended to overlook some of the horrific activities that Vick participated in.

Take care, and have a good night. :-)

X0X0, Suzi

Susannah Fleetwood on January 9, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Molly was a beautiful dog. Having lost my best dog, Bruno, less than 2 weeks ago, my heart goes out to you. My other Boston terriers and I gleefully watched Vick make his exit from the playoffs today. They wouldn’t even let me have him on any of my fantasy teams, and I don’t blame them.

Mini-14 on January 10, 2011 at 12:29 AM

I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you as well. (By the way, my mother and stepfather have a dog named Bruno.) Hey, if it’s any consolation, all dogs go to Heaven.

Take care, and have a good night. :-)

X0X0, Suzi

Susannah Fleetwood on January 10, 2011 at 1:07 AM

Michael Vick is at best a miserable punk and a probably a full blown psychopath. It has been pretty alarming how much slack they have given this creep because he can play a game well. Indeed, I am surprised anyone is interested in seeing him do anything.
Best wishes for Molly. She’s lucky to have someone who cares so much look after her.

Boxy_Brown on January 10, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Just re-read the story; Sorry about Molly. Again, you were both lucky to have had each others friendship.

Boxy_Brown on January 10, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Boxy Brown, thanks so much for the kind words about Molly. You are right–we were both very lucky to have each other.

Take care, and have a nice day. :-)

X0X0, Suzi

Susannah Fleetwood on January 10, 2011 at 12:53 PM

This is the most self righteous clap trap that I have ever read…

Why on earth do you think you are the arbiter of who deserves what and what punishment is due someone?

Theworldisnotenough on January 10, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Ummm, Theworldisnotenough, did you even read what I wrote? (Probably not, because you are obviously smoking something.) NOWHERE in my column do I say that I am “the arbiter of who deserves what and what punishment is due someone”. In fact, I never mentioned how Michael Vick should have been punished. Furthermore, I even went so far as to write the following:

So I will take a deep breath and give Michael Vick his second chance–and I will hope that he has truly seen the error of his ways. However, please don’t ask me to forgive him just yet (I hope to eventually–forgiveness is good for the soul), and please, for the love of God, don’t ask me to celebrate him. No, right now, I prefer to celebrate Ted Williams and Rudy Favard. Hearing about their stories makes me feel good. With regard to Michael Vick, I will just cross my fingers and hope for the best.”

See, did you get that? It’s the “celebration” thingy that really bothers me. And as far as not being able to forgive Vick just yet…well, those are my personal feelings which I am entitled to–just like you are entitled to welcome Vick back with open arms and totally ignore the fact that he tortured and murdered numerous innocent dogs. Who are you to try to lecture me about my personal thoughts and feelings? Oh wait–I forgot. Liberals love to be the thought police. It’s their raison d’etre. (I guess there’s not much else to do in Mommy’s basement.)

Now, if you don’t like my column, then don’t read it. But kindly stop trying to put words in my mouth and lecture me on my personal feelings.

Hugs, Susannah

Susannah Fleetwood on January 10, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Susannah, is there a reason why correcting Theworldisnotenough’s off-target rant connects up to saying

Liberals love to be the thought police. It’s their raison d’etre.

do you know something that shows that Theworldisnotenough has been appointed official spokerperson for liberalism?

Hang in there and don’t let ‘em grind you down. it was a good post.

audiculous on January 10, 2011 at 4:14 PM

“Hang in there and don’t let ‘em grind you down. it was a good post”.

Audiculous, thanks for the kind words.

Take care. :-)

X0X0, Suzi

Susannah Fleetwood on January 10, 2011 at 4:39 PM