There's a charm offensive to rehabilitate Michael Vick now that he's been released from prison. New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden has written pieces calling for his reinstatement in the NFL. He claims that Vick's imprisonment for dog fighting was a "heavy-handed misapplication of justice." And the ever alert Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, has joined the Vick team, recruiting him as a spokesman to help save innocent pooches from people like, well, Michael Vick. Pacelle is hedging his bet, however, saying he's a "participating skeptic."
It's also been rumored that the Buffalo Bills are interested in signing Vick so he can throw passes to their temperamental star receiver, Terrell Owens. I expect Mr. Rhoden would concur that the Bills are a New York team.
But it's all beside the point. For the last ninety years, it's been a tenet of American sports that gamblers and athletes must never mix. Vick was not just a dog-fighting bettor, he was the house, putting thirty to fifty thousand dollars at risk on each contest that he staged. Neither the fact that this was illegal gaming, nor the fact that dog fighting is a barbaric blood sport, should matter nearly so much to the NFL as the fact that he breached the firewall with impunity and on a large scale. Athletes have been permanently banned from their sports for gambling in the past; why on earth should an exception be made for Michael Vick?