I’m as conflicted as I can be about the Michael Vick retirement ceremony, and that’s OK

Image via AtlantaFalcons.com

On Friday afternoon, when I first heard the Atlanta Falcons would honor Michael Vick and Roddy White with a joint retirement ceremony scheduled for Monday afternoon, I had a difficult time getting my thoughts together about the Vick half of the celebration. But I had three days to think about it, and I figured I would eventually figure out where I stood on the franchise’s decision.

So I slept on it. Thought about all the things that have happened, good and bad, since I found out April 20, 2001 that the Falcons would trade for the No. 1 pick and take the star quarterback out of Virginia Tech. Even had a discussion with my wife, a dog lover (as am I) about if this guy can truly ever make good after all the bad awful he did.

Monday afternoon, as I listened to parts of the ceremony on the radio, I realized I still hadn’t made up my mind about what the Falcons were doing to honor a man who had dishonored the franchise, and himself, 10 years ago. It was strange to hear him spoken of as the city’s beloved son, yet at the same time, it was cathartic to know, after all these years, he worked hard to patch relationships within the franchise that were ruined by his actions years ago.

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In a world where “takes” are paramount and you’re either on one side or the other of every topic, I find myself sitting in the middle, and I can’t be the only one. I want to believe everything Vick has said since he served his sentence at Leavenworth, but I also feel he has to continue to prove it’s genuine. I read his Players’ Tribune article (trust me – you should, too), and in that piece, I truly saw a man who lost everything and is working like few would to get it all back.

No, I’m not talking about the money. For someone who was the face of the city and on a path to becoming the most beloved athlete to ever play for an Atlanta team, it was as hard a fall as anyone could have. Vick could have easily retreated to Virginia, never to be seen in Atlanta again, but much like he chose to work with the Humane Society instead of running from his past, he opened his arms to the Falcons as they did to him.

Furthermore, I understand how polarizing Vick’s past and present – and probably his future – was and will be, so I understand if my stance makes both sides mad. And trust me, I’ve tried to make up my mind about Vick’s attempt to redeem himself.

But I’ve also come to grips with the fact that the Falcons’ rekindled relationship with Vick leaves me feeling a little weird, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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