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Michael Vick seems to be enemy number one when it comes to a certain number of sports fans. When he was arrested on charges of dog fighting and cruelty to animals, the sports world went crazy.
People called him a murderer, others said he should be locked up for life. Though Vick plead not guilty at first he finally admitted to his crimes and was sentenced to 23 months behind bars.
Apparently not long enough for some.
After all that, even though he had gone to prison and served his time, he's still seems to be the most hated and talked about professional football player to this day. His community service, his time given to the SPCA as well as talking to youth about the mistakes he's made have not made a single dent in public perception.
Never was that more apparent than this week.
During a Super Bowl party at Club Cirque in downtown Dallas, Vick was given a key to the city by Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway. The same kind of key that was given to Gene Simmons by council member Steve Salazarduring the 'Aces and Angels' party which also took place in Dallas. Though the key given to Simmons didn't draw quite the anger or public reaction as the one given to Vick.
Now before all of you start going postal with comments about how despicable this move was by Caraway, let's make it clear that the "key" he handed Vick was not an official key to the city. Those types of keys, according to Randolph Bush of the Dallas Morning news in his article this passed Monday, "are made from gold or crystal and are given out mainly to foreign dignitaries under strict protocol."
Even though it's not an official "key to the city," it didn't stop the outcry from the public as well as members of the Dallas City Council.
Current Dallas mayor Tom Leppert told Bush, “We don’t condone it and clearly didn’t approve it. It’s unfortunate, and I would rather have not seen the situation.”
Caraway would eventually apologize through a prepared statement to anyone who was offended, but he still felt as if he did the right thing. Though he hasn't received much support in his decision from his fellow council members, I for one don't see a problem with what he did.
The way the rules state, as of this moment, Caraway and others are able to give those keys out to anyone they wish. It's how Simmons got one of his own, though I'm not sure what for.
Why this is even a story, I'm not even sure. It was done quietly without a big press conference and an official handshake. Had the story not been leaked, we would all be none the wiser.
The reason it's being blown into a story is because of Vick's actions with dog fighting and it's led to outrage from the animal rights activists. They are unwilling to forgive his acts no matter how much time her served in prison or what he's doing to turn his life around. Not to mention making sure kids don't make the same mistakes and take the same path.
This is the same kind of outcry, though on a much smaller scale, that took place after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell allowed Vick to return to football. There were those who believed he shouldn't be allowed to play the game ever again.
I'm not one to sit here and tell you that you need to get over yourselves and learn how to forgive. Far be it for me to say anything like that. I'm a dog lover myself and believe what Vick did was horrendous and deserved the time he spent in jail.
But are we really the ones to sit up on our high horses and take Caraway to task for doing something he has every right to do?
For all of you who remember this unfortunate incident surrounding wide receiver Dante Stallworth, you'll remember he made the worst decision of his life when he decided to get behind the wheel of his car under the influence of alcohol. That decision led to the tragic accident that took the life of a 59-year old man..
Sure, he could have fought the charges against him as most believed he had a very good shot at being found innocent. Instead, Stallworth decided to take responsibility for his roll in the accident, plead guilty to DUI manslaughter, served 28 of his 30 day jail sentence, and was suspended without pay by the NFL for a full year.
While that doesn't sound like much in the grand scheme of things, his return to football in 2010 was met with very little fan fare and very little public reaction.
We can not compare the actions of Stallworth to those of Vick, but there seems to be more people outraged by Vick returning to football and receiving an unofficial key to the city of Dallas than Stallworth returning to football after his roll in the loss of a human life.
Despite the hatred from so many, Vick has become a star for the Philadelphia Eagles and is starting to see the kind stardom he saw as a young quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons. The arm strength has returned as has his speed in the open field.
No matter how much people want him to fail and fall flat on his face every time he takes a snap, you might have to get used to the fact that we might be seeing him on the largest stage in the NFL sometime soon. The Super Bowl.
Just imagine the outcry when that day comes?
There's nothing he can do to change public perception. He can spend as much time as he wants with the SPCA and debating with activists while being as respectful as he can possibly be. But it's not going to change the minds of those who have taken this story far too seriously.
It's time for us to move on from something most of us have forgotten about. Hate him if you want to, but it's only going to make him stronger as an athlete.
The moment he holds up the Super Bowl trophy, which will happen before his career is over, will be the most defining moment of his career.
It will be that moment that puts his past behind him for good.