Michael Vick was released from prison in Leavenworth, Kansas yesterday morning after being locked up for 19 months on charges related to running a dog fighting ring. He will spend the next two months under house arrest in Virginia and will be working in construction for $10 an hour as part of his probation-- a far cry from the multi-million dollar contracts he enjoyed as an NFL player.
So what’s next for this fallen Atlanta Falcons superstar? Is his career over, or will he join the long list of professional athletes who've gotten a second (or third, or sixth) chance? The NFL has been hinting that Vick very well may get a chance to play again. Does he deserve it? We are joined by The Takeaway's sports contributor, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, and from Atlanta, GA, we are also joined by two Atlanta Falcons fans, Richard Palmer (who likes Michael Vick), and Larry Jamison (who emphatically does not).
More from Ibrahim Abdul-Matin on whether Vick should return to the NFL...
For more debate on letting Vick back into the NFL, watch the video below.
After speaking this morning about former quarterback Michael Vick, I want to clarify my position. Mr. Vick created the mess he is in. Mistreating animals is a serious crime. Vick was wholly in the wrong and — at least in legal terms — has paid the price for his egregious crimes. Everyone who has been around athletes of this caliber knows they are over-privileged. Vick is no exception. He took his position as a role model for granted and landed in federal prison.
So why do I support his return? I think that he can be a role model now by showing, as NFL Commissioner Goddell says, true remorse. Vick has said he's willing to work with The Humane Society; he is eager to spend time with his children. And he is still young enough to do what he does best — play football. The opportunity for him to return means he has a greater platform to become a strong advocate for animal rights and an even stronger voice telling young black men engaged in this sick 'sport' of dog fighting that the practice must stop. Vick should dedicate himself to getting out that message.
I know that there are those who believe the image of the NFL is at stake. I don't agree. Michael Vick is a singular talent and he has been (deservedly) humbled — something that few pro athletes have experienced. Vick's playing in the league again will not hurt the NFL’s bottom line. In fact, should he win again and win big, his redemption becomes a wonderful storyline.
So I'll just repeat my advice to NFL general managers: bring in Vick as your newest running back. That isn't the leadership position that quarterback is, but it still gives him — and your team — a chance to profit from his talent.
— Ibrahim Abdul-Matin