After twenty months behind bars, Michael Vick finally received a quasi-freedom on Wednesday. His release conditions require that he be confined to his home in Virginia for a two month period, but at least he’s at home and not in a jail cell.
Already, the arguments and speculations as to whether or not Vick should be allowed to return to the NFL have begun in earnest, and I, for one, firmly believed that he should. But I do not believe that is the biggest question here. That’s not the real story. The overarching question is why he was ever jailed in the first place.
Don’t get we wrong; I am an avid animal lover. And what Vick did was some egregious shit. However, the punishment did not fit the crime. The proper punishment for Vick’s crime should not have been prison. But Vick was being punished for a far greater transgression.
Averagebro over at AverageBro.com maintains that Vick’s greatest crime was to put too much trust and faith in people who were only in it for self, who did not have his best interest at heart. And I agree with this somewhat. Aligning himself with a crew of knuckleheads whose greatest accomplishment in life was to know or be related to Mike Vick was some abject foolishness. But Vick’s equally deplorable offense was to believe in his celebrity.
I believe Vick thought his celebrity shielded him in some way. I think he believed that those people screaming their lungs out for him every Sunday, his fans, were actually all his bosom buddies. I think he believed the family members and friends who hugged him and dapped him up and who he gave money to actually adored him. His celebrity gave him an exaggerated sense of himself and his place in the whole scheme of things, and he then convinced his crew that they came under this imagined protected aegis as well.
But he did not realize that celebrity can work for you or against you. For instance, in OJ Simpson’s case, celebrity worked on his behalf. Had he not been a celebrity, his black ass would have gone straight to jail for killing those white folks. But in Vick’s case, celebrity actually worked against him.
Had he been Pookie from the hood, the story might have received have received slight mention inside the metro section of the local newspaper. He would have received a sentence of probation and a fine if anything. But because of who he was, the case went global and found its way on front pages everywhere. And as always, the most prevalent reaction was to over react, and a befuddled Vick found his black ass sitting in jail.
I hope Vick gets back in the league, but most of all, I hope Vick has learned his lesson. He needs to cut loose the knuckleheads and the hanger-oners and surround himself with some people with good sense. After all, the crowd you keep often reflects who you are. And he needs to cease believing in his celebrity and believe in himself, because when it comes right down to it, celebrity doesn’t mean a damn thing. There is very little currency in celebrity.