Michael Vick pled guilty recently to several dogfighting related charges. No one can dispute the sheer cruelty of what he did. It takes a special kind of person to be a dogfighting king (and Vick was a major name in the dogfighting world)- the individual must cruel, cold-hearted, and at least a streak of sadism in his make-up. Vick is, quite simply, and cruel man, and deserves a severe punishment.
Some have argued that Vick's skin color have made him a target for the media. There seems to be little evidence for this, and it is a good rule of thumb that if even Al Sharpton doesn't think something is racist, it probably isn't.
But these people miss a larger point; does Vick deserve the anger directed towards him? While I suppose that opinions may differ, I believe that almost anyone would have to agree that dogfighting demonstrates such a lack of moral fiber that repugnance would be the only possible reaction. Michael Vick does not deserve the respect of any decent person.
Michael Vick has hardly been a gentleman for any portion of his career. In 2004, two men were arrested for selling marijuana out of a truck owned by Vick. Later in 2004, two of Vick's friends were seen on a security camera stealing a Rolex from an airline security employee. In March 2005, Sonya Elliot claimed she had contracted genital herpes from Vick (her lawsuit was settled out of court). And then in 2006, Vick gave the finger to some disgruntled fans. So Vick is hardly a class act.
Vick may not a good man, but while Vick deserves some punishment, I believe that the one that will be meted out to him is far too harsh. At this point, Vick will have to spend at least three years out of football. His sentencing is scheduled for December 26, which will keep him from playing during this season. His sentence will probably include at least a year in prison, making his time out of football two years, and the probable one year suspension after that will make three. After three years out of football, will any team want him? Especially when you consider the dark cloud he is leaving under. A three year suspension is simply too harsh.
When you consider the lenient sentences given to other NFL players who have committed far worse crimes than Vick, the excessiveness of his sentence is apparent. Ray Lewis was charged with murder in 2000 with two friends, and plea bargained to a count of obstruction of justice. Although all were acquitted, Atlanta police still believe that Lewis' friends were guilty. Ray Lewis was not suspended.
Neither was Leonard Little, who killed a woman while driving drunk. He had to serve 19 days in jail, and was given an insignificant eight game suspension.
Vick should have the book thrown at him, but it should be remembered that there are NFL players who have done far worse, and gotten a far lighter punishment. This should be taken into account when Vick is punished for his reprehensible crime.