Forgive me, Roger, for I have sinned

IUS Horizon

Michael Vick is, again, a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Last season Vick returned to the NFL after missing two seasons while serving a federal prison sentence for running a dogfighting operation out of his Virginia home.

The victims in the Vick case, the dogs, were forced to fight one another — often to the death. Those who did not perform well in training were executed by hanging, electrocution and drowning.

Within four months of his release, Vick was back on the field for a regular-season game, as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Vick played sparingly in his first season back, but well enough for the Eagles to exercise the option in his contract for a second season.

After just one half in the first game of the season, Vick was forced to step in for the concussed starter for the Eagles, Kevin Kolb.

His second game was against the Detroit Lions, and every team but the Lions came into the season with a reasonable amount of hope.

So now Vick has been named the starter. By the time you read this, he and the Eagles will have played the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team which ranks 29th out of 32 NFL teams in yards allowed per game, and, most likely, he will have played well.

The question is how many of us would be given that same second chance?  That’s not to say we couldn’t find a job somewhere after being convicted of a federal crime — only that we probably wouldn’t be making millions of dollars any time soon.

Including endorsements, Vick was making more than $10 million a year before his arrest. The endorsements have all disappeared, but Vick is making $5 million in salary from the Eagles this year.

Not too bad for a convicted felon.

To be fair, Vick is not the first professional athlete to receive special treatment due to his superfluous talents.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was accused of rape in 2009 by a hotel employee in Lake Tahoe, Nev.  That case remains unsettled and no action was taken by the NFL.

Earlier this year, Roethlisberger was again accused of rape, this time by a 20-year-old college student in Georgia.  The district attorney in this case concluded there was not enough evidence to press charges against the quarterback.

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, suspended Roethlisberger for six games.
The most ridiculous part of this story is it was reported that representatives for Roethlisberger were going to ask Goodell to shorten the suspension to three games.

Granted, Roethlisberger was not convicted in either case, and he very well could be completely innocent, but there’s something to be said for good judgment — something he obviously lacks.

That bad judgment is not only shown in the 28-year-old Roethlisberger’s partying with underage drunk college girls, but the fact that he and his representatives couldn’t just sit back and thank the commissioner for a reduced suspension.

They had to try to push the envelope, like children testing parents’ limits.

In March 2009, then Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth was driving his Bentley drunk in Miami, when he hit and killed a pedestrian who was crossing the street.

For his crime Stallworth served 24 days in jail.  Let me repeat that — 24 days.

Stallworth settled for an undisclosed amount with the family of the man he killed, which contributed to his unbelievably short sentence.

Stallworth was also suspended by the NFL for one year.

Shortly after his reinstatement, Stallworth signed a one year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, which could pay him up to $1.2 million including incentives.

For most of us, a federal dogfighting conviction, multiple rape allegations or a vehicular manslaughter conviction would completely ruin us personally and professionally.

That’s obviously not the case when you can make exciting plays with your feet, lead your team to two Super Bowls or even merely serve as a viable second receiver.

In that case, they’re merely bumps in the road to fame and fortune.

By DERRICK HOLDRIDGE

Sports Editor

dvholdri@umail.iu.edu