Now, there are still people saying Michael Vick should never be allowed to play football again, that the league should ban him for life and he should have to spend the rest of his life flipping burgers at McDonalds or doing some other menial job. I completely disagree with that sentiment.
Michael Vick has served his time -- more time than Ray Lewis, Leonard Little or Donte’ Stallworth ever served for their crimes. As far as the American legal system is concerned, Vick has the right to earn a living in his chosen field, in this case, professional football.
Now, some people would argue that if Vick were a banker or stockbroker or had some kind of 9-5 job, he’d have a hard time finding a job coming off spending 19 months in prison. And that’s true. Of course, that was also the case in the NFL, where 27 teams publicly declared they had no interest in signing him. That’s basically 85% of his industry throwing out his application based solely on the question “have you been convicted of a felony.” I’d say that’s a pretty strong deterrent without the league also piling on and making that 100% without giving the individual teams the chance to decide.
To continue the 9-5 job analogy, if Vick was a banker, there would be no call for the banking industry to ban Vick from ever working in a bank again. People would let the market dictate his employment opportunities. If Vick were an actor or director who’d done something deplorable, the situation would probably be the same.
Don’t believe me? Take the case of Roman Polanski. In 1977 he was charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14 and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. Eventually he pleaded guilty to engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, but he fled the country and never served his time. But there’s no “ban” on Roman Polanski preventing him from making movies. Hollywood didn’t get together and say “we won’t let him pursue his career”. It’s up to the individual studios, much like it was up to the individual teams of the NFL to decide to employ Michael Vick.
I’m not here to espouse the virtues of Michael Vick as a person (I think he’s a horrible person who’s made multiple horrible decisions throughout his life) or as a quarterback (he was pretty damn mediocre as a passer, electric as a runner, probably worse than 20-25 current starting quarterbacks in the league, but better than a few, and better than a large portion of backups). In fact, my buddy Nick has taken care of covering those aspects of this over at Nick’s 2 Cents. All I’m saying is there’s no good reason to ban Michael Vick from playing football. If Vick screws up again off the field, the market will take care of that. If Vick is no good on the field, the market will take care of that too (probably quicker than if he screws up off the field). But it’s time to let the man do what he’s spent his whole life doing, and that’s play football.