President Barack Obama reportedly is pleased with both rehabilitated animal abuser Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles and the management team that gave the disgraced quarterback a second chance — after he paid his debt to society.
Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie revealed Obama’s comments in a conversation with Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports’ Peter King, who wrote about it in his Monday Morning QB column on SI.com.
"The president wanted to talk about two things, but the first was Michael,'' King wrote of his conversation. "He [the president] said, 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance.'"
"He was . . . passionate about it. 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.''
The Washington Post reported that White House spokesman Bill Burton confirmed the exchange and added that Obama “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.”
The Post also noted that even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals founder and President Ingrid Newkirk couldn’t resist the good news story. The Post quoted Newkirk as saying, “Obama’s a sports guy, Vick’s a sports guy, and comebacks and redemption can happen.
“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.”
It was not all football and redemption, however, Eagles owner Lurie told King that the other item Obama called to discuss was alternative energy plans at Lincoln Financial Field. King said the Eagles announced last month the team would run the first self-sufficient alternative-energy sports stadium in the country complete with wind turbines, solar panels, and a biodiesel plant.
Nonetheless, the praise, both on and off the field, for Vick is a remarkable turnaround from 2007 when he pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges and was sentenced to 19 months in prison.
Records showed that Vick ran a dogfighting ring and poor-performing animals were drowned or hanged.
Many thought the gifted quarterback, who was a star at Virginia Tech and played six seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, was through, but the Eagles signed him to a one-year deal.
The New York Daily News reported that Vick has toured the country giving speeches apologizing for his past and has worked to be a “model sportsman.” The paper said that last week Vick chided his teammates for refusing to shake hands after a loss to the New York Giants.
The Eagles are 10 and 4 on the season and have clinched a playoff berth.
Vick’s redemption, however, is not totally complete. His recent remarks that he would one day like to have another dog brought a harsh response.
“You don’t forget,” PETA’s Newkirk said to The Post. “In the same way, you would hope a pedophile would get a chance at what he does (in his career), but you wouldn’t want him to get another child in his home.”
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