• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Barack Obama And Michael Vick

During a telephone call with the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, President Obama took the time to praise the team for giving Michael Vick a second chance after his dog fighting conviction:

President Obama doesn’t seem to shy away from the divisive social and cultural topics that Americans are debating in their living rooms, gyms and workplaces.

He has spoken out about the responsibility of fathers to raise their children, has condemned the arrest of a prominent black Harvard professor who said he was the victim of racial profiling, was heard chastising Kanye West for the rapper’s rude behavior at the MTV Video Music Awards, and recently said his views on gay marriage were “evolving” from his previous opposition.

On Monday, the buzz was about how the president had weighed in on the redemption of Michael Vick. Obama phoned the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles to praise the team for giving a second chance to the quarterback, who is again a National Football League star 19 months after leaving prison for his role in a horrific dogfighting ring that killed pit bulls by electrocution, hanging and drowning.

The president has not spoken publicly about the call, though aides acknowledged that it took place. But Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports that during their conversation Obama was passionate about Vick’s comeback.

“He said, ‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,’ ” said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. “He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”

Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said Obama “of course condemns the crimes that Michael Vick was convicted of, but, as he’s said previously, he does think that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again.”

President Obama’s comments aren’t likely to stir nearly the amount of controversy they might have even a year ago, largely due to the fact that Vick has had a very good season in Philadephia, not only taking over for Donovan McNabb amid residual signs that the fans still hadn’t accepted him, but leading the team back into the playoffs this year. As the old saying goes, nothing succeeds like success, and even animal rights groups don’t hold the same animosity toward him that they used to:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Obama’s call was appropriate, noting that Vick himself has given speeches around the country apologizing for his crimes.

“Obama’s a sports guy, Vick’s a sports guy, and comebacks and redemption can happen,” said Ingrid E. Newkirk, the group’s co-founder and president. “We all want a president who can lift us up and move us forwards when ugly things happen, but that cannot let us forget and remain watchful to avoid future abuses.”

Some people will never forgive Vick, of course, and I think the condition of parole that forbids him from owning a dog is appropriate under the circumstances. However, he’s served his debt to society and he’s succeeding at his chosen career. Isn’t that sort of what we want criminals who get released from prison to do?

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Kind of the way Michael Jackson did huh? All this taught people is if you are talented in the NFL no matter what crime you commit, if you are caught do not worry. When you serve your time you can become a role model again. Wonder if Pete Rose feels the same way? But then he is a white guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. ALP says:

    I don’t fully agree with you Doug. Yes i do feel that ex felons deserve a 2nd chance if they are
    rehabilitated. However not necessarily in their past profession. Look at Teachers or Law Enforcement Officers. If they are convicted of a felony, they most likely never get employed in their field again.

    As for Michael Vick, I don’t believe he should have the chance to return to the NFL and make millions of dollars. In fact, I don’t believe any professional athlete who has been convicted of a felony should ever play again. Seems like a big double standard to me. Athletes are supposed to be role models (like the were years ago) but, there seems to be very few who are really role models.

    This is my opinion only. I guess I just believe in higher standards for people in general.

    Have a Happy New Year

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. steve says:

    Some people will never forgive Vick, but this is how our system is supposed to work. He was convicted and did his jail time. As long as he follows his parole rules, I see no reason why he should not be able to work in any area willing to hire him.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Davebo says:

    “Athletes are supposed to be role models (like the were years ago) ”

    Like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, O.J. Simpson, Mercury Morris and on and on and on?

    Athletes are supposed to be athletes. You can project the role model persona on them but don’t complain if they let you down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Setting aside the Vick issue, I’m kinda disturbed by the idea of the President presuming to call up the owner of a private business to critique their hiring decisions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  6. Jim King says:

    Hey, I am not really upset about Vick. I just don’t want obummer to get a “second” chance.
    Jim King

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  7. Tano says:

    DAvebo,
    Are you implying that Lou Gehrig ever failed to be a good role model? What are you referring to?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Tano says:

    I don’t know where this concept arises – that athletes are “supposed to be role models”. Says who? They might function as such, but they certainly aren’t trained as such. For the most part, people who rise to the very top of professional athletics are freaks of nature to some extent – usually the best athlete that their little town or neighborhood ever produced, and as such, they have lived in a “superjock” bubble since junior high. They get adoration, special treatment, and the time and space to hone their skills. The rules rarely are applied to them. In Vick’s case, I sense that it never really occurred to him that what he was doing was disapproved of by the larger society – it was just something that people he knew did, and he got into it.

    Its rather hilarious to see the conservatives objecting to Vick’s second chance. Of course, most of the opposition probably arises simply because Obama weighed in on the support side, so that settles the question for them. But otherwise, it seems to be the most obvious of all Christian principles – forgiveness, redemption that is at play here. To the extent that anyone can argue that our legal system has any grounding in Christian principles, it must be that upon paying the price for ones sins, one is given the opportunity to get on with life, and hopefully not sin any more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. anjin-san says:

    > I’m kinda disturbed by the idea of the President presuming to call up the owner of a private business to critique their hiring decisions.

    No doubt he is preparing to nationalize the NFL. Soon the Vince Lombardi Trophy will become the Karl Marx Trophy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  10. No doubt he is preparing to nationalize the NFL. Soon the Vince Lombardi Trophy will become the Karl Marx Trophy…

    I wasn’t accusing him of a communist conspiracy. It just irks me when politicians seem to think that their election means they’ve been designated as the national Gladys Kravitz.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. anjin-san says:

    If the President called me and wanted to talk a little shop, I would be pretty flattered. There are ‘politicians” and then there is the President. I was no fan of Bush, but if he had called me, I would have certainly been happy to shoot the breeze for a few minutes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Well, I guess we’re just two very different people then. And I think I’d actually be even more annoyed by Bush calling me, but that’s more because his voice had this “nails on a chalkboard” effect on me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    You mean the President does not call you for advise Anjin? He acts like he is listening to your council.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    As far as athletes are concerned, the endorcements they receive are the direct result of being role models.. Tiger Woods acts were far less heinous than that of Michael Vick. Read what he did to those dogs before you defend him. It just amazes me how little moral courage the left has when it comes to right and wrong. What level of crime would Vick have to committed before some of you would say, maybe this guy does not deserve to play in the NFL? Guess maybe we should reconsider OJ’s candidacy for the hall of fame. He certainly is famous and his accomplishments on the field have little to do with his accused crimes. I truely hope none of you have children .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. anjin-san says:

    > It just amazes me how little moral courage the left has when it comes to right and wrong.

    I will keep that in mind the next time I hear a right wing knucklehead ridiculing PETA. Safe to say that without “the left” there would be no such thing as the animal rights movement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. mike says:

    I read these stories and see on tv about former gang members or criminals who get convicted and go to jail and learn the error of their ways and get out and dedicate their lives to helping young people and stop them from joining gangs and doing what they did. How many of them got phone calls from the president?

    Vick has been treated like a god for his football skills in HS, college, and in the NFL. He has been paid a bunch of money. He killed or helped kill dogs and went to jail. He got out and went back to being a QB and being treated like a god and his boss gets a call from the president?

    Good decision Mr. President. Maybe the NFL owners will kick a little money to your campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  17. Stan says:

    “It just amazes me how little moral courage the left has when it comes to right and wrong.”

    You’re so right, Zels. I remember how the right condemned the treatment of the Abu Ghraib prisoners, how they denounced waterboarding, how stubborn they’ve been in the defense of our habeas corpus and Sixth Amendment rights, and Ronald Reagan’s stirring defense of states rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi? And then there’s Joe McCarthy, a true representative of the right in American politics if ever there was one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. John P says:

    Wow, I was amazed to see the number of comments on this story. I file this under none-of-anybody’s-business. The guy served his time and the Eagles decided to hire him for his services. Don’t like it, fine, don’t buy the jersey.

    As for the President making a private phone call…seriously? Again, none-of-your-business.

    This place turns into a serious hen house sometimes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Franklin says:

    Look at Teachers or Law Enforcement Officers. If they are convicted of a felony, they most likely never get employed in their field again.

    I think there’s a specific reason for those two cases, in that both jobs have authoritative power. The fact that they can’t have their job back isn’t really a part of their punishment; it’s to protect other people.

    Basically, I don’t think your given line of reasoning applies to Vick and his job. Vick served his punishment. If you think he should have spent more time behind prison, that’s a reasonable argument – take it up with your lawmakers. But he paid the dues that society imposed. We don’t just randomly impose more punishment at this point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Franklin says:

    I will keep that in mind the next time I hear a right wing knucklehead ridiculing PETA. Safe to say that without “the left” there would be no such thing as the animal rights movement.

    I will 100% agree with your second sentence here. But don’t bring up that terrorist organization known as PETA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. […] Of course, Carlson appears to me upping the ante on the whole thing so he can then take a political swipe at Obama.  For background on why this would be the case, see Doug Mataconis’ post:  Barack Obama And Michael Vick. […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. G.A.Phillips says:

    I don’t see how you get a felony for dog fighting in the first place?

    Half the world eats them for dinner. International law? lol……

    wtf, In the USA you can murder your kids but you can’t fight your dog. Whoever on the right or left thinks this is some unholy and unforgivable crime has their head completely up their——!

    I think it was one of the good things that Obama has done, something our leader should do for the spirit of forgiveness and rehabilitation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Read what he did to those dogs before you defend him.*** I’m thinking mental exam not felony, and was he there doing all of this this or was it the idiots who worked for him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  24. John P says:

    @GA, I mean this in the nicest way possible – you remind me a Ralph Wiggum. “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***@GA, I mean this in the nicest way possible – you remind me a Ralph Wiggum. “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.”*** ya I suck, but you get the point…..

    unpossible lol, can I use that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  26. thedogdefender says:

    All animal lovers and anyone with a shred of decency should boycott all Eagles games. I refuse to finance Mike Vick. He should be forever barred from playing any professional sports.

    Did Mike Vick give dogs a second chance as they lay there whimpering for mercy? No, all dogs who didn’t perform well were executed in a brutal manner.
    Take a look at photos of the mercy Mike Vick showed the dogs.
    http://www.animalrightsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/loveofdogs31.jpg
    http://www.jollybengali.net/theconfluence/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/gypsy.jpg

    The Bible says, “You will reap what you sow” which basically means what goes around comes around. He should receive the same kind of mercy. He should stop being such a cry baby as if he is a victim and take what he has done like a man. Mike Vick will not change but find a way to continue dog fighting under the radar of officials. I say this because for years he participated in dog fighting and only stopped because he was caught. Even his own Father urged him to stop in 2001 and he refused. If a Son will not listen to his own Father, then who will he listen to?
    Boddie told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that around 2001, Vick was staging dogfights in the garage of the family’s home in Newport News and kept fighting dogs in the family’s backyard, including injured ones which the father nursed back to health. Boddie said his son had been urged to not engage in the activity, but continued. He stated: “This is Mike’s thing. And he knows it.”

    If Obama wants Mike Vick to have a second chance then let the government give it to him. Recruit him in the military so he can observe REAL men and women doing REAL work and not for the absurd amounts Mike gets for tossing a ball around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  27. […] Barack Obama / Michael Vick conversation has caught my […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. psychologist says:

    Barak Obama is great person and also world powerful person .He is brilliant in all filed and he is great personality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  29. Chris Durant says:

    I for one believe that Michael Vick was WRONGLY CONVICTED. You made some very interesting points in your last couple of paragraphs.

    Many may think I am crazy for stating this, but follow the link below to my compelling argument. And trust me it is NOT what you may initially think.

    http://chrisdurant2000.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/michael-vick-was-wrongly-convicted/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. bricarr2 says:

    This whole debate, in my opinion, is somewhat moot. Michael Vick is playing football not because the Eagles or Jeffrey Lurie are trying to save his soul, but because he is good. Nothing more, nothing less. I have a link below if anyone cares to check it out.

    http://www.anoffcamberworld.com/2011/01/second-chances.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0