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Give Michael Vick another chance

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 27, 2009 at 11:26 am •  Published: May 27, 2009
Gates Brown walloped a pinch-hit home run in his 1963 major-league debut.

Brown also was an ex-con. A high school football star in Crestline, Ohio, in the 1950s, Brown found trouble and was sent to reform school. He returned to Crestline High School but was banned from the football team.

Brown eventually committed a robbery and spent 22 months in prison. A Detroit Tiger scout saw Brown play baseball at Mansfield Reformatory and signed him to a contract.

No football coach really needs to scout Michael Vick. They assume he still can run and still can throw and still can scare defenders out of their cleats.

But will he get the chance? Vick has been released from Leavenworth Federal Prison after serving 18 months for dogfighting and will be on house arrest until July. He could be free to resume his NFL career, if a team will have him and the league will allow it.

And NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should do just that.

Vick has paid a high price for his crimes. Loss of an estimated $142 million. Financial ruin. His reputation to the point where he is a virtual social pariah. Two years lost from the prime of his career. Eighteen months in a medium-security federal prison, apart from family and whatever friends he has left.

Many say Vick has forfeited his right to play football. Nonsense. That right never existed.

Football is a business. No one is born with the right to quarterback the Atlanta Falcons.

If we want the NFL to further punish Vick for despicable deeds, we’re asking private enterprise to do society’s corrections work.

It’s arguing that the sentencing requirements for dogfighting aren’t strict enough, so the punishment must continue.

Dogfighting is an emotional issue. I understand that. I don’t agree that’s it’s the unpardonable sin.

Pat Jones, who spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and now hosts a statewide radio show, has called Vick’s actions "pure evil.”

Molly Gibb, who lives in Arcadia and owns one of the dogs rescued from Vick, told The Oklahoman dogfighting is a "very violent culture ... it’s a sickness. An addiction to violence and blood-letting.”

Maybe so on both counts.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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