Fair Or Not, Public Perception Of Vick Will Ultimately Be Determined By Play


The Philly PostFans started to line up outside Modell’s on Cottman Ave. at 9:45 a.m. for an autograph session with Michael Vick that didn’t start until around 1 p.m. The QB was there to promote his new line of performance wear called “V7,” flanked by his two boisterous daughters and his brand-new wife, Kijafa, as fans tripped over themselves as if approaching the royal family. It is a striking development when put into context, this man who was once so reviled and so controversial that the slightest of moves was cause for national debate, if not outrage. Now here he is starting his own clothing line, and nobody is batting an eye. As one of his confidants expressed at Wednesday’s event, this is a milestone moment for a player who has had his share. No protestors or columns damning the promotion of an ex-felon. Just adoration and acceptance for a once-polarizing figure.

It’s a very simple question with an answer that couldn’t possibly be more diluted or complex–are people finally forgiving Michael Vick?

Certainly, it’s an interesting development. Anyone would agree that the scene McManus describes was unimaginable only a short time ago. Yet here we are, headed into Michael Vick’s second-full season as a starter in Philadelphia and the protestors and venom in this city have seemingly dissipated.

Let’s remove the obvious–that there are people who will under absolutely no circumstance excuse, forgive, or move past what Vick has done. He harmed animals in gruesome fashion. He funded the operation and was an active participant in a violent and cruel activity. And some simply can’t accept Vick’s turnaround as legit because his epiphany came only after he had no choice. And they’re entitled to feel that way.

But there are others whose opinions remain up for persuasion. It’s somewhat sad to suggest that public opinion of a man’s character rests in the balance of his football performance, but, for many, that’s precisely what will ultimately determine the perception of Vick.

First, let’s look at how we got here. What if Michael Vick didn’t take over for Kevin Kolb in 2010 and earn MVP consideration on his way to leading the Eagles to the postseason, would we be talking about this remarkable transformation of his image? What if he went out and sprayed interceptions all over the field, looked lost, and his team flatlined? Is it not conceivable to think that his career and comeback would have died with a whimper on the turf of Lincoln Financial Field?

As he enters the 2012 season, the vibes are good and the expectations of Vick and the Eagles are soaring. If he delivers and his team meets those expectations, the disdain for Vick will continue to be replaced by adoration for what fans will want to label a rehabilitated superstar who is making the most of a second chance. But if he struggles and the Eagles falter? Those same people won’t just be calling for Vick’s job. They’ll be the first to remind Vick of his past transgressions.

The autographs, high fives, and love for Vick that McManus witnessed as he unveiled his new brand was no doubt indicative of a more accepting fan base. But just keep in mind that while some have truly forgiven Vick, there’s groups of people that never will, and many whose love will vanish if he fails to deliver the goods.

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