I make it my business to find redemption stories, for obvious reasons. I found one in my own election returns. Another one is playing out nationally, and it intersects nicely.
At every given point since 1999, my beloved Cleveland Browns have scraped the bottom of every barrel for quarterbacks to bring back the magic of the Bernie Kosar era. They’ve all sucked. Big time. With clock-like regularity. When Michael Vick got out of prison, few voices in Cleveland, if any, even hinted at Vick signing in Cleveland to play for a team whose signature fan base is called The Dawg Pound.
Today, Michael Vick is beyond question the hottest quarterback in the NFL. White. Hot. Just look at the stats. The only two QBs ranked higher are the Bears’ Jay Cutler, who is playing out of his mind, and none other than Petyon Manning. Vick has thrown no interceptions in 3 games. None. He has thrown 6 TDs, and run for one. It took one concussion to Donovan McNabb’s chosen heir, Kevin Kolb, to give Vick the chance he’s been waiting for, and boy did he grab it with both hands. Vick is throwing lasers. The Eagles are Super Bowl contenders now.
Can you imagine if Vick played for the Browns right now? Think of that storyline. Think of how over the moon Cleveland would be, today, instead of staring down another disastrous season. And after Lebron James just broke all our hearts. Pro sports teams make a big deal about signing “character guys”, athletes with no blemish on them of any kind. That almost always leads to a team that can’t play the sport. Between Lebron James and Michael Vick, who’s the “character guy” now? More importantly, who cares?
What Vick did to land in prison was awful. He has paid his price, and less than 2 years after leaving prison, Vick is now at the very top of his profession. Beyond that, he is giving the community that gave him his second chance, Eagles fans, the kind of ride every NFL fan’s dreams are made of. Vick paid his debt to society, and now he is giving back to the community that welcomed him something that money cannot buy – unfettered joy, memories to last a lifetime, and hope for a championship.
There are people who will never forgive Michael Vick for what he did, even some people who think Vick should rot in hell for eternity, or at least in prison for the rest of his life. Because of a mistake which Vick admits, for which he has paid his debt, there are people who would throw away his life forever, despite his obvious gifts, and the joy which those gifts are bringing to his community on a weekly basis.
Fine. That’s their right. But those people are quite plainly wrong.
Because when you look at the stats, they prove that this flawed human being is a once in a lifetime talent who can work magic in his chosen profession. If you permanently take away this man’s ability to do what he does, you also take away from everyone else whatever value that life can give to others. That is not just factually wrong based on Michael Vick’s statistics, it is morally wrong based on any measure of humanity, too.