Man, did F. Scott Fitzgerald get that one wrong, when he wrote "there are no second acts in American lives" (although to F. Scott's credit, he did apparently anticipate future Republican tax policy when he wrote that the rich are "different from you and me."). There ARE second acts in our most exceptional U.S. of A. Just win, baby, and it won't matter if just a few short years ago you were involved in the unspeakable act of torturing dogs.
(Or torturing people, for that matter, but let's not digress.)
Having said that, I believe that most people deserve a shot at redemption in life -- and that includes Michael Vick. Today, the entire country is talking about Vick, and who can blame them? What Vick has done on the gridiron, especially in last night's shellacking of Donovan McNabb's Washington Redskins, this year is truly remarkable, and too much fun to watch. Dogs? What dogs?
I think most of Philadelphia is in a place right now where no one wants to even think about the moral issues surrounding Vick's comeback. This is a football crazed city that has never won a Super Bowl -- people here would cheer for a zombie Pol Pot behind center if he had a passer rating of 158.3.
And truth be told, Vick certainly acts like someone who wants to sing the right redemption song. There've been a couple of minor blips since he left prison and joined the Eagles, but for the most part Vick has seemed well-behaved and exudes a growing aura of maturity when we see him on TV. He's renounced dog fighting (duh) and goes to local schools and talks to kids, etc., etc. He committed a crime, but he did the time -- in a weird way that makes him seem more honorable to me than another NFL QB further back on the redemption line, Ben Roethlisberger, who acted like a felon and only got wrist-slapped. (Ironic, isn't it, that human crime victims can be paid off -- but dogs cannot.)
Still, I'm not 100 percent sold on Vick's comeback story, and I wonder how many other people feel the same way. This may not be a perfect analogy, but his story reminds me a little of Bill Murray's odyssey in one of my favorite movies, "Groundhog Day." Midway through the film, Murray's loutish TV weatherman learns how to say all the right things -- but only because he's trying to get Andie MacDowell into bed. It is only at the very end, after many more trials and tribulations, that Murray learns the joys of an honestly altruistic life. It feels right now like Vick is still in the middle of his movie.
But like I said before, with visions of Dallas (yes, Dallas!) in February suddenly dancing in Philadelphia's collective head, all ethical discussions are on hold for the next three months, right?
Meanwhile, Michael Vick beats on, a boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into his past.