Everyone remembers the saga of then-Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick. Convicted of dog-fighting charges – he went to jail. Everyone baked him alive over what he did wrong. And rightfully so for those folks. I didn’t though — because I just didn’t see a guy who was to be dismissed as a member of the human race after such an offense. Yes, he had to pay the legal price for the crimes he had committed. And he did. He paid a personal price as well to his own reputation. When he was released from jail and allowed to come back to the NFL – many folks poo-poo’d the decision. He shouldn’t be provided the opportunity. They should have dropped the jail-house on top of him, ala the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz.
I didn’t see it that way then – and I still don’t see it that way now. Vick got the chance to make good, to show people that he’s a different guy. And he’s done quite well at that. For the most part, he’s been the model citizen of the NFL that he should be. He’s focused on being the family man to his children that he should be. He’s been given the second-chance that many would hope for in life. That opportunity to make-good and show that one incident does not define an entire life. He’s still not perfect – and he never will be. The cloud of the dog-fighting scandal will always haunt him, no matter how good he does. However, he now has a few options before him. He could become a spokesperson for the ethical treatment of animals – utilizing something that will forever be a negative in his life, as a potential life-learning moment for others. The only problem with that, is that people not willing to provide Vick with that second chance will see this particular motion as “hollow” or having no substance. Or, Vick can choose to continue living under the radar as much as possible – staying out of the spotlight and keeping naysayers and the venomous nit-pickers away from his family. Both choices have similar drawbacks, but in different ways. And this is what the cloud following him will always provide – choices that are not as clear-cut for him and his family. Its a stigma that’s not going to go away – no matter what he does or doesn’t manage to accomplish.
I truly believe in the second chance. I’ve had it the same opportunity in my life. I’ve not been an angel of any sort. I’ve made bad choices in my life in the past. And to this day, I continue to live with the consequences of those choices. I was lucky enough to have been afforded a second chance by an employer who saw the implications as “bad luck” and was willing to mentor me towards making better choices in my life. I couldn’t thank Frank enough for that second chance. In many ways, he provided me a clear path out of the darkest moments of my life – and he knew what I had done to get there. My choices were not the correct ones — neither were Vick’s. But a second chance should always be afforded to people — you never know what they are going to accomplish further down the line when provided that opportunity.