Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The best comeback medicine for Vick


I don't personally know Michael Vick. Never seen him in person. Never spoken to him. Never shook his hand.

I didn't personally know Eddie Griffin. Yada, yada, yada.

But from far away, it's clear that both men — one alive, but heading to prison; one dead after driving his SUV into a freight train last week — have/had serious problems.

Hopefully the one still alive, Vick, can learn from the mistakes of the deceased one, Griffin.

But it will likely take some help.

Being overly loyal
On Tuesday afternoon, Vick's former teammate, Fred McCrary, came on ESPN Radio and said that Vick is a good guy and that we in the media should stop judging him. Basically, McCrary was showing blind loyalty toward Vick. He was standing up for him when he knows — as does the rest of this country — that what Vick engaged in was downright despicable.

While I'm sure McCrary knows Vick better than most of us in the media "judging him," we are simply basing our opinions of Vick on the facts. He gambled on dogfighting. According to his (former) friends, he helped kill underperforming dogs. That's all we need to judge Vick.

McCrary is doing Vick a disservice by benightedly supporting him and saying he'll be a better man when he comes out of jail. That's nice to think, but the only way Vick's going to become a different person once out of the ringer is if he realizes just how awful his transgressions were and that he needs to make some changes in his lifestyle.

To do that, he needs friends and family members who support him, but who don't make him feel like he's locked up for no reason. He needs people around him who recognize that Vick was a bad person and that he needs to change.

Griffin's lost opportunity
There were people who tried to help Eddie Griffin, the troubled NBA player whom Houston gave up three first-round draft picks to get in the 2001 draft.

Houston Rockets vice president of basketball operations and athletic trainer Keith Jones knew Griffin well and had many conversations with him, including in May. Griffin would tell Jones that he was doing the right things, working out to get back into shape.

But those words were always false, including — tragically — one final time. Jones said that Griffin, who battled alcoholism his entire NBA career, was likely influenced by the wrong people, the type of people who don't sit a struggling person like Griffin down and tell him to get his act together.

"I can't say it shocks me," Jones said in J.A. Adande's column. "It's still really sad and really tragic. And Eddie was a good guy. He had a good heart. He made some bad decisions on a lot of things. I think he had people that were guiding him, that he thought were guiding him, that didn't have his best interests in heart."

Sound a little like Michael Vick? Maybe it's a good thing Vick is being locked up.

Another chance at life
As a dog lover, I doubt I'll ever be able to forgive Michael Vick. But that's just me. There are millions of conciliatory Americans who will open their minds up to Vick when he is released from prison a year or so after serving his sentence. Even if an NFL owner doesn't grant Vick a second chance in the league, I'm sure some other league — maybe the burgeoning Arena Football League — will open its doors to Vick.

He could even become a star once again.

But first he needs to do what Griffin failed to ever accomplish. He needs to admit his problems and his wrongdoings. He needs to recognize that the Michael Vick of the past six or so years was not a good person. He needs to reshape himself.

Whether Vick is able to achieve this is up in the air.

His friends/loved ones can sway the wind toward a successful comeback by giving him tough love rather than blind support.


Tyler Hampton said...

Well said. I also don't know if I can forgive Vick for his wrongdoings, but I do hope that he can turn a new leaf because it would be better off for everyone if he would do a little community service. It would also be good for the NFL to see that people can come back and change. I hope he gets better.

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