PR Project of the Century – The Return of Michael Vick to the NFL

Ok – I’m an avid sports fan, and a huge animal lover, so the Michael Vick saga has definitely peaked my interest. Last Thursday night, word of Michael Vick signing at 2 year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles was announced. Within minutes the blogs, news outlets and every other form of media started to blow up with the news. Almost immediately half of Philadelphia was in outrage, the other half was popping open the bubbly at the idea of having the one-time best QB in the league on their roster.

The story is an interesting one. As proved by the lenient penalty of Dante Stallworth, the country has proved that it has more compassion towards our four-legged friends than a blue collar worker killed by a drunk driver. But that’s a whole other can of worms. My point is Michael Vick disgraced the nation. Everyone loves their pets, and dogs especially, often thought of as royalty are considered man’s best friend. What this man did to those dogs is inexcusable. He will never be able to experience the pain and suffering that the dogs at the Bad Newz Kennel went through. But I believe he paid his price.

Side note – please don’t jump down my throat. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and this is mine. The man paid for his actions by serving time in prison, as well as working hard to raise awareness about the dark world of dog fighting. With advisors like Tony Dungy by his side, I believe that he can, and will continue to make reparations for his actions long after he hangs up his cleats. Because of his high profile, prosecutors threw the book at him hoping to set an example – well it worked.

But back to the task at hand. How does an organization like the Eagles and a man like Vick go about beginning to change his reputation of the public? At the press conference today, protesters were already lined up in the streets. Celebrities like singer Pink (who is a native Philadelphian) publicly stated that she “hopes the fans tear him apart”. The road to redemption is going to be a long, winding, bumpy one. One that will take years to complete, but one that I believe is doable with the right guidance.

For starters, it all must start with Vick. He needs to continue to show remorse for his actions and continue to take the steps to speak out against the horrid sport and educate people, mainly the young ones, on the ridiculousness that is dog fighting. He needs to keep his head down, work hard and do his job. Most importantly, Vick must work to do the unthinkable. Fade away into the background. He can’t draw attention to himself.

The Eagles are definitely taking a chance on a lost soul. Coach Reed knows a thing or two about second chances. Just last year his sons faced charges and battled with drugs. While the Eagles might have seemed like the last place that Vick would end up, I think it is one of the best places for him. The coaching staff, team and owners will do what they need to do. They are a no-nonsense team and won’t blink an eye at releasing him if he slips up, even once. They also provide the type of nurturing and coddling that Vick has experienced his entire career, and that he will need to get out of this alive.

Many are saying that Vick’s hardest job is going to be to win over the fans. At first, yes this is going to be tough. People are already selling their tickets because they don’t want to be associated with him. But there will always be someone willing to go see the game. While the Philly fans tend to be the most volatile in the country, I actually see that as a good thing for Vick. If he produces in whatever role the Eagles have for him, he will be forgiven. His performance will determine how much rath he takes from the fans. Yes, there will be people who will still protest. That’s fine. It is what they are entitled to. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few months, he might actually hear some cheers on the field.

The road ahead for the former brightest star in the NFL is going to be tough. But with the right guidance and the right attitude, I think Michael Vick has the ability to come out at the end of the tunnel. It will be interesting to see how this whole saga plays out, and you can be sure the media is going to exploit this to its fullest.

Posted by: Lauren

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