My Michael Vick take: First, I'll say that I love dogs. My family raised German Shepherds when I grew up. I still have the stitches on my arm from when one of our dogs latched on to it. Doesn't affect my love for dogs.
But while I love dogs, I'm not one of these people who treats their dog like a child. I didn't put little outfits on them. I didn't obsess over how they looked or what they ate. I didn't spend hundreds of dollars on boutique doggy treats or fur-lined designer collars, or other doo-lollies that people lavish on their pets. One, they didn't have those things when I was growing up in the 70s, and even if I had a dog today, I wouldn't do all that. I loved them, I cared for them, gave them tons of affection, they were a part of our family, but they were still just dogs. If my house were on fire and I had a kid and a dog, and I could only rescue one of them at a time, I'd get my kid first and if I had time, I'd get the dog. I can always get another dog.
What Michael Vick did was disgusting and vile and despicable. If he had done any of that shit to any dog I had, I'd probably hunt him down. I do not condone one thing he did to those dogs.
But he served his time according to the laws of the land, he paid his debts, he's turned his life around and as far as we know, has stayed on the straight and narrow. He'll have to live with his actions for the rest of his life. And he damn well knows it. And there will be people who'll always remind him should he ever forget.
There will always be people who will never forgive him for what he's done. He could come to them in sackcloth and ashes, plead for forgiveness and slit his wrists and bleed out before them, and they still would not be satisfied. And that's their right, I would never tell a person what to believe in this case.
Maybe I'm too forgiving. Maybe I'm a patsy. But I believe that even in the case of a Michael Vick, or anyone who committed a heinous crime, that if they made an honest and sincere effort to change their ways, and can provide tangible proof to that effect, I have no problem giving the benefit of the doubt. If they do the same thing again, that's another story.
I can live with Michael Vick as a member of the Stillers, because while I love the team, I don't love them so much that I have this fanciful notion that every player on the team is a righteous Boy Scout/superhero standing for truth, justice and the American Way. They are human beings, some of which came from very bad places and backgrounds who had a ton of fame, wealth, and money dumped on them. More than they had ever seen in their lives. Do you expect people who came up under those circumstances to know what to do when they come into more fame and wealth than they ever saw in their lives in one moment? Not everybody can make that adjustment. Can you? I'm not saying that every player is a thug, a wife-beater, a dog fighter or a malcontent, but I'm also not naive enough to think that every player is a nice, upstanding, church-going paragon of virtue with a wife, 2.5 kids, an SUV and a home in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and a drooling Lab.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a business, in the brutal and barbaric business of playing football, the modern version of Roman gladiators. Face it, the business of pro football is filled with humans that are good, and humans that are bad. Just like my job, but 65,000 people don't crowd around and pay top dollar to watch me drive or walk around a parking garage making sure nobody steals it. I don't see these players as role models, or people for whom I or any children that I would have had, to aspire to. They are football players playing a violent, nasty sport in front of tens of thousands of people who live vicariously through 'their team.' Gears and cogs in a machine that are replaced when they break. The players know it, and any fan with a clue knows it.
If the Stillers think Michael Vick can help them to win, which, like it or not, is the ultimate goal, that is their decision to make. They don't need my permission, nor will they suffer if I boycott the team. Michael Vick didn't do anything to me. He doesn't have to apologize to me. Just as the Steelers don't have to defend or apologize for their actions to me.
Watch if you want, or not. Protest if you want, or not. But stick to your principles if Big Ben goes down in a heap, and Michael Vick ends up leading this team to the playoffs. Do you root for the logo or the player wearing it?