Michael Vick’s Return is Good for All of Us

August 14, 2009

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

He’s back. After a 2 year saga that kept my head spinning, the young man who made a terrible mistake is finally being allowed to make a living. I have supported Michael Vick all along, but not because I felt that he was innocent. I’ve supported him because I do not believe that dog fighting is the kind of crime that deserves a lifetime punishment. So, to the extremists at PETA who want to see Michael Vick burn in the hell of unemployment and incarceration for the rest of his life, I only have one thing to say: grow up.

Michael Vick’s reinstatement to the NFL and recent signing by the Philadelphia Eagles unleashed a plethora of thoughts within me. On some level, his return is a bit of an "Athletic Juneteenth" for those who tire of seeing our country make African American athletes into public enemy number one whenever they screw up. To this day, we act as if Marion Jones is the devil, Barry Bonds is a monster, and Terrell Owens is some kind of criminal. This treatment is nothing new, as black athletes have been getting villified for decades, and their molehills are consistently turned into mountains, ripe for high-tech lynchings. This is the tradition of America.

It only seems appropriate that Michael Vick sign his contract in a city like Philadelphia, the place that I love and fear at the same time. I love the city because they’ve supported me in my work with the great Wendy Williams, Dom Giordano andCharlamagne Tha God. But there is a dark side of "Killadelphia" that shows itself in the way they support their sports teams. They are the fans that cheered when it appeared that Michael Irvin may have broken his neck, so they sure as heck aren’t going to pay much attention to animal rights protestors blocking their path to a Super Bowl. In a city like Philly, the slogan is simple: "If you win, we forgive all sin." Vick will be right at home.

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