Fox News be damned: Vick’s story is tale of redemption

I have to admit to being surprised to hear Tucker Carlson saying on Fox News that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick should have been executed for his role in a dogfighting ring that landed the former Virginia Tech star in a federal prison.

I was surprised mainly because I didn’t realize that Tucker Carlson was still around, to be honest.

So Fox threw the buttoned-up conservative a lifeline after he was canned by CNN and MSNBC. Which is probably why you hear something incendiary from him now – seriously, one more pinkslip, and the guy is lucky to get a guest gig on my upcoming show on WVPT.

To the substance of what Carlson had to say:

“Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should’ve been executed for that. He wasn’t, but the idea that the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs?”

Ah, here we go. This isn’t really about Michael Vick. The target is Barack Obama, who being a Democrat gets upbraided by Fox if he says the sky is blue. (Glenn Beck would swear up and down for weeks after that we all know the sky is purple, calling blue “the preferred color of the fascists and commies.”)

The criticism itself, though extreme, is something that I’ve heard and had a couple of friendly arguments about since Vick was first signed by Philly in 2009. My take on Vick is that he has paid his debt to society (which, incidentally, was handed down in a sentence issued by the same judge who just ruled in favor of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on his suit challenging the constitutionality of health-care reform signed into law earlier this year).

The book was thrown at him. The door was locked, the key thrown away. He had to file for bankruptcy after being released by Atlanta and losing his millions in endorsements. And there was no guarantee in signing with Philadelphia that Vick would ever be more than a footnote in football history thereafter. Remember, the Eagles at the time had Donovan McNabb as their starter and a guy named Kevin Kolb who was considered the quarterback of the future whenever McNabb was to move on. Vick was seen around the league as at best being a guy who could run some wildcat plays and maybe eventually get some playing time at receiver and maybe returning punts.

Now 16 months later he’s the NFC starter in the Pro Bowl and a top contender for the NFL most valuable player award. As such, Vick is, and I agree with the president on this, a perfect example of what can go right when a person who has a history of doing something very, very wrong is given a second chance.

The outcry initiated by the likes of Tucker Carlson reveals the facade that is the American attitude toward redemption. We like to say that we believe in forgiving and forgetting and giving people a chance to redeem themselves, but we don’t come close to practicing what we preach in that respect.

The great shame is that in doing so, we’re missing out on what could be a nice life lesson for us all. The world is chewing a lot of us up and spitting us out in all directions with the job market being what it is and the housing market being what it is. Seeing a guy like Michael Vick doing well with the lifeline that he was thrown could and should be an inspiration for people who need one.

For example, that Tucker Carlson guy. Dude, Fox rescued you from the TV-host trash heap. You’re getting a third chance when most don’t even get one. And you dare look your gift horse in the mouth?

Column by Chris Graham. More sports news and views at VaSportsOnline.com.



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