Let me preface this article by saying I’m pretty conservative when it comes to basic morality. I think society has the right to expect ethical behavior from those who choose to live among us. In fact, nothing tends to bother me more than those who think they are above the rules. Personal accountability is huge with me.
That being said, I’m all for the signing of Michael Vick.
For some, this signing is tantamount to a certain amount of hypocrisy on behalf of the Steelers organization. In truth, the Steelers have generally been a team that demands more out of its players than other teams do.
Ask Santonio Holmes if this is true. After having been warned previously about off field indiscretions, Holmes woke up one morning to find himself a member of the New York Jets. Ask LeGarrette Blount, who walked out on his teammates and was told to keep walking.
The Steelers organization prides itself on maintaining a certain level of decency and I totally understand why some fans are feeling as if the team has deviated from that mindset. I also totally understand why some fans are disgusted with someone who tortured and killed helpless animals. I love animals…I get it.
But fans are missing a huge part of what makes the Pittsburgh Steelers a quality organization. Yes, the Rooney’s still demand integrity among its players but they also understand the concept of redemption.
Redemption is a hard concept for some to grasp. It involves an opportunity for a man to atone for a mistake. It is based on the belief that a person can change.
Rarely have we seen a player make a moral mistake and be immediately dropped from the team. The Steelers do their own research. This is done outside of NFL front office opinion and the politics of the national media. They are willing to sit down with a young man and hear his side of the story. If warranted, the player is warned. If a behavior is repeated, that player is shown the door.
The Steelers believe in redemption because they understand that athletes are human . They let their players know that it’s going to be a joint effort. They will provide the athlete with another opportunity but it’s the player who must take the necessary steps to atone for his behavior.
What Michael Vick did was horrid. It is more than my mind can comprehend. But I have seen drug dealers become preachers. I have seen ex-convicts become CEO’s. I have seen the dregs of society pick themselves out of the gutter and make something out of their lives
By all accounts Michael Vick has been the epitome of character since his release from prison. He is a spokesperson for the Human Society. He’s supportive of the Pets for Life program to end dogfighting and he voluntarily helps to spread the message through his public appearances. He is attempting to rectify his past by being an advocate for the humane treatment of animals.
Here is what is important… Michael Vick is not a man in denial, he is a man who has expressed his remorse.
I have seen the protesters. I’ve seen the outrage in social media. I’ve heard fans saying they will no longer support the Steelers. I’ve read where some fans claim they will give up their season tickets.
One of the drawbacks of being a fan of an organization that has enjoyed so much success is that we have too many band wagon jumpers and shallow “fantasy football” followers. If this signing separates the wheat from the chaff then I will consider it a positive thing.
I’m not concerned with whether or not Michael Vick is the face of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is not. He is a second string quarterback who may never see the field. I don’t think the problem lies in whether or not Michael Vick has paid his debt to society. He most certainly has.
I think the problem lies in our own inability to step down from some self-proclaimed ethical high ground and actually allow ourselves to believe that a person can change.
It’s so convenient to sit on our couches and pass moral judgement on others. It’s so much easier to feel superior through the condemnation of Michael Vick, and not through our own acts of mercy and compassion.
That is lazy morality.
No, this isn’t about the character of Michael Vick. This is about the character of our fan base. It’s about whether we will accept one of the basic tenets of a civilized society. That a repentant man is capable of redemption.
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