Friday, January 7, 2011

Mike Vick, American As Apple Pie

The Green Bay Packers are one of America's teams, and rightfully so. They are publicly owned, have a tremendous tradition including arguably America's greatest coach, Vince Lombardi, and for the most part have been a controversy-free franchise.

However, when they take the field Sunday in Philadelphia, Americans outside of the state of Wisconsin should be rooting for the Eagles.

Why? Because their quarterback Mike Vick represents a little piece of each one of us.

Three years ago, Vick was the most vilified man in sports and depending on the day, maybe the country.  His dog-fighting ring was deplorable and for some, an act so egregious he will never regain their respect. (Yikes)!

But, not giving Vick a second chance is hypocritical.  Because we, as a nation, are in the process of getting a second chance of our own.

At about the same time he was getting fitted for an orange jump suit, America was on the verge of free falling into one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression.

Vick was out of work and lost more than $100-million.  Americans were soon out of work and lost hundred of BILLIONS.

Fast forward to today.  Vick is again the NFL's most exciting player, a Pro Bowl starter, and has his team in position to reach the Super Bowl.

The United States is making a recovery of its own.  Unemployment continues to drop, slowly but surely.  Retail sales are starting to rise, and Congress just capped off one of the most productive "lame-duck" sessions in history.

My point - America loves a comeback.

But its not the comeback that's the headline, it's the lessons learned along the way that will ensure long term success  for both the nation and Vick.

Michael Vick came out of prison a different man.  He was obviously humbled by the experience.  No longer was he the apple of everyone's eye, his career was up in the air, and not to mention he forfeited one of the richest contracts in league history.

Carrying that  humbleness sparked his turnaround.   Vick has admitted to being more committed in the film room and focused on team success above his personal achievements. Off the field, he's received praise from groups like the Humane Society for his anti-dog fighting efforts.

America also had to swallow a big piece of humble pie. 

Wall Street greed and people purchasing homes they had no business buying left the nation in turmoil.  Bailouts were necessary, congressional leadership changed in 2008 and in 2010, and a re-evaluation of how to create jobs became a main concern.

The United States suddenly didn't have that cocky swagger it had carried for so long.  Very Vickesque

The nation, like Vick, now seems determined on refocusing its priorities.  Neither are where they once were and both have a long way to go before truly turning the corner, but there are signs of progress.

Vick's success may be more contingent on what he does off the field and America's progress will be judged on continued growth.

It may be tough for many to see him back on top again.  But no one's perfect.  We all fall. 

Vick should at least be respected for learning from his mistakes and developing into a more mature, humble, and better athlete and more importantly, a better man.

It's the American way.

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