So, you just got sprung from the big house and you’re looking for something to get into. Toiling away long hours at a minimum wage job? Living in grandma’s basement for the winter, again? Signing with a moderately successful NFL franchise in the scenic and rather chilly Northeast? Sure, you think you could work with that last one.
Your new lease on life depends on one little condition: the first paycheck’s got to be at least a million and a half. American dollars, that is.
Of course, not many of us are facing these kinds of dilemmas, but I bet you can guess at least one public figure out there that is. Oh yes, one Mr. Michael Vick is, fortunately for him, out of federal prison. Unfortunately for pit bulls everywhere, Vick became a free man July 20 after serving the last two of his 18 months time served in home confinement.
By the letter of the law, Vick received an appropriate punishment for his participation in a dog fighting venture, classily named Bad Newz Kennels. The unfairness in a situation like this does not begin and end with Michael Vick. Greater problems exist with lawmakers that use such relative levity when creating sentencing guidelines for dog fighting convictions.
So, do I think Vick received a just punishment for the crime he was convicted of? Absolutely not. Do I think federal and state laws concerning dog fighting have enough problems of their own? Most definitely. Vick’s team pleaded down from the average five-year sentence, but according to Pet-Abuse.com, sentencing guidelines recommend only 12 to 18 months.
Putting aside the fact that Vick received a significantly lighter sentence than his crime warranted, his opportunities post incarceration worry me. Vick has been allowed to practice with the Philadelphia Eagles for the preseason, but did not travel to the team’s Indianapolis game against the Colts Aug. 20. He is not yet cleared to play in Philadelphia’s games once the regular season begins Sept. 10.
The average NFL rookie, especially a quarterback, might play special teams in a handful of regular season games. Even fewer players are lucky to make it past training camp. The point that bothers me most is that Vick will play more downs than most rookies into the NFL, who have not served time in a federal prison.
Vick could make upwards of $9 million in the next two years if he chooses to take advantage of the offers presented to him at the moment. Hundreds of other players, all that lack a rap sheet like Vick’s, would be lucky to receive a chance like that. In what other industry does logic like that reign supreme?
I do not condone what Vick and his partners did, in fact I find their behavior repulsive, but his sentence is nearing its end and the Philadelphia Eagles have already picked him up. The time for bemoaning his crimes and the severity of his punishment is over. The most valuable thing to be gleaned from Vick’s ordeal is a greater awareness of dog fighting and the people who make it popular and profitable.
Melanie Cruthirds is a junior News-Editorial journalism major from Houston