Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Micheal Vick, the Eagles, and Does It Matter

The Answer is...No. But I'll get to that in a moment.

I have kept my thoughts quiet on the subject of Micheal Vick and his playing time with the Philadelphia Eagles for quite some time. There were plenty of times I started to write a reply to one of the several posts regarding Vick, his signing with the Eagles last season, and whether or not he deserved it. I stopped because I did not have enough space or time to write all I was thinking on the subject. I still may not hit all the points I want to hit, but I'll do what I can.

Last season, when the Eagles signed Vick for one year with an option for a second, my initial reaction was "What, are they NUTS?" I was thinking of the public backlash, the fan's reaction, and how the city, who wants a football championship to go along with the recent Phillies winning ways, would react to this new and clearly controversial subject.

Vick was chastised in the media for his actions, and punished for his actions, as he should have been, and deserved. Everything he received was justified. Even now, I believe that what he gets from the media and from fans is clearly justified. What he did was horrible, and he should be reminded of that every single day of his life.

But let's put this into context. It really makes no difference on the field at all.

Last season, Vick's contribution to his football team, which is his job and one he was paid to do, was not that high. He was paid little from a football perspective to practice with the team, be a part of the final team that played the season, contributing just one touchdown all season and providing little more than a quick change-up to opposing defenses.

But no one cares about that, because the root of their angst is his crime. A crime which he has done his time by law, was released by law, and was mentored, and continues to be mentored, by one of the most respected coaches in the NFL, Tony Dungy, upon release from prison. He was recently given the Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates. His statements to the press have all expressed thankfulness and humility, and it appears he is working his way back to football and his life.

Philly fans, and those that abhor his crimes, do not care about any of this. We are an emotional and strongly opinionated bunch, regardless of the opinion we take, and we are proud of that. The problem is that we are also headstrong and will hardly ever listen to reasonable arguments. We only care that he killed dogs for sport, but forget that he served time for that crime and was released under various plea arrangements.

So , what do I think? I don't like what he did. It was horrible. I have 2 dogs, both of which I love and trust more than a lot of people I know and have known. They are my children's pets, and they love my children as much as my children love them. To think that he committed these crimes is horrible.

But, from all I've seen, he's paid for, and continues to pay for, his crimes, whether by money, or time, or taking abuse from all angles of his life, including from within himself. But this in no way changed my view, as a fan, of the Eagles. I watched every single Eagles game last season that I could and did not get the impression that Vick was a factor in any of those games. Nor did I turn on each game thinking "Well, let's see if The Dog Killer is going to play today". It's just not what I was going to do. I was watching the games as an Eagles fan, as I have all my life, and that's it. Because in this case, I didn't see this as such a big controversy as everyone else did. Here's why:

  • He did the crime.
  • He did his time.
  • He continues to express regret and humility.
  • He continues to work toward forgiveness.

I have to accept that he's on the right path. Maybe not to salvation, but to being a better person. Only time will tell. I am not a religious man, but I do believe that people deserve to be forgiven. But forgiven does not mean forgetting, and the fact is that many people will not forget and will continue to condemn him for his actions. But I won't be one of those people.

Some of my friends will strongly disagree with me, and I welcome that disagreement. One of the greatest things we have in our lives is the right to disagree and to accept that we will disagree with each other from time to time. Additionally, they have taken their own steps in protesting Vick and the Eagles, mainly by not watching games, not purchasing Eagles merchandise, and just not being a fan. I support them, because that is their choice, and it's reasonable.

I try to put a lot of things into context, though, and there are worse things in this world than this one man who ran a dog fighting ring in his past.

I'll give you two examples of what I think deserve more attention, and that I would get into a more emotional argument about. My first example is the situation in Haiti and how that country is suffering from the recent earthquake, and from a government that has been historically corrupt and has done little to help its own people. On top of that, we have people in our own country that need help, and so little is done to help them. While I am all for helping people in need, it stands to reason that if you can give up $10 to send to Haiti, you can give up $10 to a local shelter or charity to help poor or underprivileged people in your own backyard. You should do both, but not forget either.

Another example is the ongoing allegation of priests in the Catholic church that continue to be hidden, moved around, and protected when they were clearly pedophiles (more stories here, here, or more recently in Germany and how close this gets to Pope Benedict XVI). I have 4 children, and would gladly and unquestioningly put myself in harms way to protect them. To think that kids that are abused in this way makes me angry, and to think that trusted spiritual leaders in a church are responsible for doing things to young boys just boils my blood to no end.

So when I put the entire Vick thing into perspective, while I am not oblivious to the public backlash, I just think there are more important things in this world that deserve more attention.

I also think about other people in this country who have served time for other crimes, and when they get out of prison, they are in the same situation as Vick, only much less publicized. Think about the gangbanger that serves, say, 2 or 3 years of a prison term, and is released back into society, looking to make his way back into productive society and is successful. There are plenty of examples of people that try to do the same thing as Vick -- get out and put his past behind him, learning his lessons without forgetting his crimes, and working toward redemption. We hear more about Vick because he was famous in the NFL, and as such this was a highly publicized event.

Baltimore went through a similar situation with Ray Lewis years ago when he was accused of murder, but was later acquitted on inconclusive evidence or evidence that supported him solely as a peacemaker in the incident. However, he made a deal to only be charged with obstruction of justice in exchange for testimony against the other defendants in the case, and was fined by the NFL and put on probation. He also reached a monetary settlement with the families of the victims in that case. Lewis continues to play football with the Ravens and is always involved charitably in the Baltimore community. I think, over time, Vick can take a lesson from Lewis.

So, The Answer is No, it doesn't matter, and that doesn't mean I don't see that Vick committed a horrible crime, and that he deserves all the press and backlash he gets. I'm saying it doesn't matter because there are other things that deserve more attention than whether or not Vick deserves to play football in the NFL.

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