By Richard Cohen For The Washington Post
The commentary about President Obama’s call to the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles regarding that adjudicated dog killer Michael Vick has now reached an apogee of stupidity that strongly suggest that too many otherwise smart people have lost their ability to reason. Obama, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie recounted, said, “‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance.’ He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.” It helps, I think, that Vick has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and has 20 touchdowns. He is not your average felon.
And, yet, that is the comparison that’s made. You would think from the commentary that Vick was some poor kid who got caught swiping something so he could get something to eat. You would think he had on the spur of the moment stolen a car, gone for a joy ride — and collided with a police car at an intersection. You would think that he was anything other than in immensely gifted and immensely rich professional athlete who got a signing bonus of $37 million and had endorsement deals from Nike, Coca-Cola, Kraft and others. Vick staged dog fights and killed dogs not because he had to, but because he chose to. He’s a thug.
Dog fighting was Vick’s hobby. He had been warned about it. His own father had told him to stop. He persisted because, as with many great athletes, he was never held accountable. A nation of jock-sniffers always looks away when a great athlete does something wrong. Nothing is an important as winning — we all know that — and Vick was and is a winner.
The sanctimony regarding this dog killer is sickening. He was wantonly cruel, not only pitting dogs against one another in fights, but drowning poor performers. Didn’t he know this was cruel? Didn’t he know wounded dogs were in pain? Is he so stupid he didn’t notice the blood, the torn skin, the…? Oh, forget it! The man’s an animal himself.
Now Vick has punched all the tickets on the road to rehabilitation. He is contrite. He loves pooches. He might even get a dog himself. How much of this is genuine and how much is synthetic I leave to you. But I’ll tell you this. 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.