|By Mark Vasto|
It's never an easy thing to watch your heroes fall. And while there wasn't a crying child on the steps of the Richmond court asking Michael Vick to "say it ain't so," you can imagine that there were plenty of jerseys tossed and posters ripped down in the aftermath of Vick's stunning fall from grace.
Yes, it's difficult for the young kids ... but older kids should get over it pretty quickly. Mike Tyson was the athlete who fell from grace during my teen years, having spent time in jail on a rape charge. And while I was old enough not to be heartbroken about it, I remember being pretty agitated that I was robbed of who should have been the best boxer of my generation.
And I remember watching O.J. run. My college roommates and I were glued to the television set that day. No way was this happening. Between his career and his movie turns in the "Naked Gun" movies, we genuinely liked the guy. Now, he's one of the creepiest guys on the planet.
Today's youth have Vick the supposed "face" of the NFL to deal with. It's been a sad situation to be sure, and the idiocy of it all was even harder to come to grips with. Here's a guy flushing away $100 million and a pro football career, choosing instead to commit a dog holocaust in the backwoods of Virginia.
But after admitting guilt to the crime, the subject of his post-prison workaday life became fodder for controversy. Would the NFL rescind his ban after serving time?
S. David Mitchell, an associate professor in the University of Missouri School of Law, said that after he pays his debt to society, Vick should be allowed back into the NFL. Mitchell has become an outspoken advocate for Vick.
"I don't think that Michael Vick should be prevented from doing what he does. He shouldn't be denied the opportunity to play football," Mitchell said, who recently completed an article examining the legal disabilities that ex-felons encounter following a conviction. "The uproar is so over the top when compared to reaction from other offenses committed by NFL players."
Mitchell agrees that as a felon, Vick will lose a host of legal rights all of which are subject to restoration under specifics of Virginia law. But the penalties don't extend to football, Mitchell concedes, because he's an at-will employee.
Here's my view: The guy killed dogs and gambled on sports even though it wasn't very organized. There are plenty of people who can toss a football and run fast. Vick may have a right to work, but he doesn't have a right to play in the NFL. Thanks for coming out, Mike, but you shouldn't be thrown any more bones.
Mark Vasto is a veteran sportswriter and publisher of The Parkville (Mo.) Luminary.
(c) 2007 King Features Synd., Inc.