For better or worse, Vick will have a second act
But from this point forward, we'll learn more about Vick than we did from anything he did on the field in three years at Virginia Tech and six with the Atlanta Falcons. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that "there are no second acts in American lives." Vick should live long enough to prove him wrong. Or right.
"I will redeem myself," Vick said today during a solemn news conference minutes after pleading guilty to a dogfighting charge. "I have to."
It occurred to me that, standing at that podium, facing the tape recorders and camera lenses that transported his words to millions of people around the country, Vick was nervous. Maybe even scared.
He's only 27. Like all of us, he faces an uncertain future. But his future is almost certain to be a little quieter, a little darker and a lot smaller than his glorious past.
It's much easier to quantify what he stands to lose: his freedom, for roughly a year; his status as one of the NFL's most popular players; and, according to ESPN, approximately $100 million in salary and endorsements as a result of his conviction.
How does someone recover from tremendous ruination? How does someone live a life with severely lowered expectations and boundaries? Michael Vick could do worse than to look to Michael Irvin or former NBA coach John Lucas or even one of our local examples, City Councilman Joe Shyne.
I called Councilman Shyne today, pretty much knowing where he would fall on this topic. As many local folks know, Shyne's time on the council was interrupted only when he served a year in prison after a guilty plea for accepting a bribe in 1994. The trouble he had regaining his seat has nothing to do with the voters and everything to do with that conviction.
Not surprisingly, Shyne believes Vick should get a second chance at the NFL, among other things, after he's served his time.
"Vick is entitled to make mistakes like anybody else," he said. "None of us are perfect. If you look through the Bible, God never used perfect people. If he’d been looking for perfect people to use, he wouldn’t have been able to use anybody. ... The American way is about giving you a second chance."
Indeed. Vick will have a lot to prove - to himself, to his family, to his friends, to his critics - when he emerges from this mess. If he's fortunate, the second act of his life will last a lot longer than his first.
Time will only tell if it will be better.