Monday, March 08, 2010

Does Mike Vick deserve an Ed Block Courage Award?


Baltimore Ravens News & Blogs by Tony Lombardi of Ravens24x7.com

Back on December 23, 2009 I wrote a column stating my objection to Michael Vick being named as the Philadelphia Eagles’ team recipient for the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award. Despite all of the public spin and emotional pleas for second chances my position hasn’t changed one iota. You can read that column again down below.

However on the eve of the award ceremonies, I have decided to not only represent my position but also to provide an opposing viewpoint by our newest contributor Lauren Hunter. We’ll label Lauren’s thoughts as “Point” and mine as “Counterpoint.”

Naturally we invite your commentary as well…

POINT

Michael Vick.

Just hearing the name in the days following the announcement that he will be the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award tomorrow night has provoked much debate and passion on both sides of the fence. The outpouring of public opinion has been lopsided in favor of those enraged by the decision. Some have suggested boycotting the awards ceremony, or worse, making a spectacle of themselves by protesting at the ceremony itself.

But, let me ask you this: Does public opinion matter for the Ed Block Courage Award?

After all, Ed Block didn’t ask YOU.

There is a reason the Ed Block Board of Directors asks players to vote for a teammate. And I suspect there is a reason the Philadelphia Eagles players voted unanimously to put forth Mike for the award. They are the ones who know him, really know him. Not the public.

Do I condone what he did?

Hell no.

But I do think that humans make mistakes and bad decisions which have repercussions. And Mike paid the penalties for those bad decisions.

It wasn’t up to the public to decide when his dues were paid….that’s the reason we have a judicial system. They decide. That’s just the way it is.

Then after the system decided he served an appropriate sentence, The NFL commissioner decided, after losing everything…his money, his house, his job, his reputation, and much public respect…he had earned the right to go out there and try to reestablish some of this.

This decision rested squarely with Roger Goodell, not the public.

Before the public starts throwing stones, they may want to just double check that they aren’t living in a glass house. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We all have to face consequences for the bad decisions we make. Mike faced his.

Perhaps we should all be as critical of our own lives, as we are of others’.

He could have made more money writing a book about his experience or selling movie rights, but with the blessing of the legal system and the commissioner himself, he chose to fight back to play the game he loves. What the media knows and is able to report is only about ten percent of the story.

None of us really know what he has had to endure on his way back to the sport. His teammates do. This is why they are the ones who have the privilege of voting him in, (again, unanimously!) not the public. Trust me, you don’t know, and will never know, the whole story.

The amount of energy that has been expended on criticizing and hating other people like Mike has been ridiculous. If we all took just half that energy and put it into something positive, we could move mountains.

Sad, as Mike is focusing on the positive, many of us are still focused on the negative.

Still enraged by the Ed Block decision?

Take that energy and go fight for something worthwhile…volunteer at an animal or homeless shelter or a domestic violence center or hospital. What exactly are you accomplishing by lashing out at a guy who has paid his dues? Many of us are saying that Mike shouldn’t have the right to be a productive member of society, but we aren’t exercising our right to go out and do something productive ourselves!

For the haters out there: Who are you to judge?

If it were not for second chances, we would all be in B-I-G trouble.

If those around him day in and day out see fit to vote him for this award, then that’s good enough for me. They know him, not us. Just like no professional athlete is better than any of us, we are not any better than any of them…even the ones that (gasp!) are human and make mistakes.

If you think that you are fit to judge, and that you are indeed more deserving of forgiveness and second chances than Mike, well, congratulations to you. If you think that you are any better than Mike then I’d love to meet you. If you could take a minute away from slamming him and help the blind see or the crippled to walk that would be great.

And oh, if you have a minute, I would really appreciate you coming over and turning my water into wine!

That would be really awesome.

COUNTERPOINT

Since I became aware of their mission and purpose, The Ed Block Courage Foundation has occupied a special place in my heart. Every March the foundation rewards a member of each NFL club who in their own unique way demonstrated uncommon determination and perseverance to successfully overcome oftentimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles in order to positively affect his team.

Each of the 32 awards is voted upon by the recipients’ teammates making the honor that much more special. It’s those teammates who witness the struggle behind the scenes and away from the discerning eyes and ears of fans and the media. Honor, humility and selflessness are often rewarded and brought to the forefront much to the chagrin of many recipients. These are qualities once embodied in the award’s namesake.

Of course I’m referring to Ed Block.

The awarded athletes collectively are the star attraction for the awards ceremony but they for all intents and purposes second on the bill to the real stars – the children of the Ed Block Courage Houses. One only needs to refer to the core of the organization’s mission statement for proof.

"The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of neglected children and ending the cycle of abuse. The purpose is to raise Awareness and Prevention of child abuse. That objective is coupled with the Foundation's commitment to celebrating players of inspiration in the NFL."

Unfortunately this mission took a hit recently when it was announced that Michael Vick had been voted in as the recipient for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Michael Vick, less than one year removed from prison for inflicting incredibly heinous acts upon defenseless animals will represent the Eagles at the Ed Block Courage Awards here in Baltimore. This is the same Vick who once assumed the alias of Ron Mexico to circumvent a sex scandal; the same Vick accused of trying to board a plane with a water bottle equipped with a hidden compartment allegedly laced with marijuana residue; the former Atlanta Falcons’ player who flipped the bird towards his hometown fans.

And let’s not forget all of the creditors he stiffed.

This is the best the Philadelphia Eagles could do?

Obviously he owes none of them any money.

Keep in mind that this is an award often bestowed upon players, coaches or trainers who have battled cancer; or uncommonly served their communities; or endured excruciating pain to rehabilitate a devastating injury in order to take the field again in a productive way to help and support their respective teams and families.

These are men of honor.

Mike Vick might be appreciative but a man of honor?

C’mon man!

Vick has already received award – a second chance and a new NFL contract. And that’s ok I suppose in this forgiving society but how is that honorable? Did he have any other choice than to suck it up and toe the line of acceptable behavior? Let’s not forget that he had multi-million financial reasons to toe that line and be a conformist.

Should he have been given a second chance?

I think so.

Has he respected this privilege?

So far, so good.

Should he be mentioned in the same breath as previous Ed Block Courage Award winners like Warrick Dunn, Kurt Warner, Priest Holmes, Warren Moon, Chad Pennington, Peter Boulware, and Eddie George and on and on?

Of course not!

If you thought Ernest Byner’s inclusion in the Ravens’ Ring of Honor cheapened that award’s luster, relatively speaking the coveted Ed Block Courage Award has just been dumped on by a truckload of dead dog and puppy carcasses with the news of Vick’s award.

His inclusion taints the award for past recipients and the bar just fell to the floor when considering future recipients. The knuckleheads in Philadelphia just paved the way to the Ed Block Banquet for NFL thugs like Pacman Jones, should the league ever reinstate him. All it will take is one season of toeing the company line, being cordial to teammates, feigning remorsefulness and cashing healthy paychecks on Fridays.

Ed Block must be rolling over in his grave.

Maybe the folks over at the old Courage House should show some courage of their own and rescind this award to Vick.

If not they may render the prestigious award meaningless. And that may prove to be no big deal to the athletes. After all there are plenty of awards to go around.

But it could affect the children of the Courage Houses.

Hasn't Vick done enough damage?

He should either decline the award or maybe the Eagles need to simply claim that they used a Florida balloting system and conduct a re-do.

However they get it done, Vick's award has to be taken from him.


Do it for the kids!

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5 comments :

Scott said...

Do people deserve second chances? Yes. Does everyone? No. By Lauren's logic, Hitler, Pol Pot, Sadam Hussein, etc. all deserved second chances. The horrific nature of Vick's crime set him apart from your average person, criminal, or repented version of either. I'm sure that if capable, the dogs that died at his hands during his "canine holocaust" would decide not to give him a second chance.

However, as was also stated, Vick has been charged and punished for his crimes by the system we as American citizens have agreed upon. I don't agree with the outcome, and personally I wish that we had rid the world of this waste of life, but fortunately for Vick that is out of our hands. So I have to ask, Tony, why bring up this topic again now?

Tony Lombardi said...

Scott,

Tomorrow is the awards ceremony...that's why.

Jerry B said...

As heinous as the crime against the animals was, he has paid his debt to society and deserves to be able to go back to earning a living at what he's capable of doing. Count me as one animal lover who does not necessarily equate "animal rights" with human rights. Animals are bought, sold, caged, tethered, fenced in, euthanized and, in some societies, considered a delicacy for eating. That doesn't excuse or condone abuse, but it does provide a distinction where "rights" are concerned........

Anonymous said...

Michael Vick did not " pay his debt to society " as so many insist ; his prison sentence is misleading : Vick pled " Not Guilty " to animal cruelty in a plea bargain, and only served 18 months for " bankrolling a dogfighting conspiracy ". Vick served no time at all for animal cruelty charges, after hanging, drowning, electrocuting, and beating innocent animals, horrific actions witnesses testified Vick personally engaged in. This is not my " opinion " it is fact. Justice has not been served. If he were truly remorseful he would have entered a " guilty " plea and faced the proper consequences.
The bottom line is if you are wealthy, especially a wealthy athlete, you can buy your way out of anything with a team of slick attorneys. It speaks volumes about the glorification of sportstars in our society. This man is just about the farthest thing from a role model that I can imagine. His heinous crimes and lack of remorse sum up his character and priorities; he is only sorry he got caught and would likely still be involved in his felonious abuse of innocent animals if he hadn't. Vick's reinstatement into the NFL is unconscionable enough; showering him with this positive attention and holding him up as a role model only serves to boost his already-inflated ego and to try to erase the public's collective memory of his brutality.

Sherry Wolfe said...

Michael Vick did not " pay his debt to society " as so many insist ; his prison sentence is misleading : Vick pled " Not Guilty " to animal cruelty in a plea bargain, and only served 18 months for " bankrolling a dogfighting conspiracy ". Vick served no time at all for animal cruelty charges, after hanging, drowning, electrocuting, and beating innocent animals, horrific actions witnesses testified Vick personally engaged in. This is not my " opinion " it is fact. Justice has not been served. If he were truly remorseful he would have entered a " guilty " plea and faced the proper consequences.
The bottom line is if you are wealthy, especially a wealthy athlete, you can buy your way out of anything with a team of slick attorneys. It speaks volumes about the glorification of sportstars in our society. This man is just about the farthest thing from a role model that I can imagine. His heinous crimes and lack of remorse sum up his character and priorities; he is only sorry he got caught and would likely still be involved in his felonious abuse of innocent animals if he hadn't. Vick's reinstatement into the NFL is unconscionable enough; showering him with this positive attention and holding him up as a role model only serves to boost his already-inflated ego and to try to erase the public's collective memory of his brutality.