Even though Michael Vick is one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL, no one has forgotten his past. Vick might be firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles but that doesn't mean that his image is glistening. The quarterback has spent the last few years doing his best to repair his reputation, and he took another step in that direction on June 25. Vick happily addressed NFL rookies during a symposium. Vick spoke candidly about his past and the present in an effort to educate rookies about the pitfalls of stardom. As an Eagles fan, I am happy to see Vick doing things like this. It might be an obligation but it is one that he takes seriously.
Since Vick joined the Eagles in 2009, I have resisted passing judgment on him. I have my own opinions of his crimes, but I also know that society allows people to atone for their sins. The bottom line is that Vick has gone to great lengths to do some good. Speaking to the rookies is just another example of that. He spoke about what life in prison is like. He spoke about lacking discipline and trusting the wrong people. Most importantly, Vick made no excuses for what he did. He acknowledged that he is the only person to blame. He didn't hide any facts and he didn't make it sound like he had forgiven himself. I think that message is incredibly important. If he gets through to even one rookie, Vick will have done a big service.
I'm sure some people will take these speaking engagements with a grain of salt. Some will say that Vick is only doing this because it serves a selfish purpose. Others won't care because they can't get past the horrible things he did in the past. There is some validity to both of those mentalities, but I think it's important for people to acknowledge that things like this matter. When drug addicts visit schools to discuss how their lives were ruined, they usually make an impression on several students. Vick's speech to the rookies will have the same effect. Yes, it serves a purpose for himself. Yes, he still did terrible things that most people will always remember. But at the end of the day, I give Vick credit for continuing to help others avoid his dangerous path.
Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Eagles fan.
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