The Michael Vick Chew Toy

 The football team I've come to love just signed a fabulously gifted dog murderer.

The news that the Eagles signed Michael Vick has split me from a couple of my friends, real and virtual.
They think it’s a perfect fit.

 I can't imagine seeing Vick explode down the field in green without picturing one of those poor dogs, doused with gasoline or hanging from a tree.

Call me an idealist.

A Facebook pal: “All I am saying is that I have acquaintances who have been in jail for murder. They have done their time and I still root for them to be given a second chance to succeed in life. If they have a chance to do what they were naturally and legally good at it before they were incarcerated, then all the better. I would be a hypocrite to change up now. I think we, Eagles, should be proud that this team is offering that chance to someone. ... he has a chance to do some good things on and off the field. Why not give him a shot?"

Me: “You do your time for the crime and you have an opportunity to rebalance the ledger. Do it by talking to kids, do it by fostering rescues, do it by building houses and being humble.

“But doing it for millions in front of a roaring crowd isn't my idea of the way it should be.”

Says another friend, a few desks down: “It’s the American way.  He  lost millions of dollars. He paid his debt. And, he’s a fabulous fotball player. If you don’t like it, don’t buy a ticket.”

Yes, we live in a cynical world, Jerry Maguire.

We’re in for a silly season, Philadelphia. You can imagine the PETA protests outside the Linc.

How about the Michael Vick chew toy?

Or opponent’s defensive lines, down on all fours and barking as Vick tries to call a play.

Except that from all the Tweets I read last night from pro players, they seemed to think it was fine that Vick return to the game.

 “Everyone deserves a second chance,” Reggie Bush wrote. “The only person who can judge us is God.”

Well, God and the actual judge in Virginia, who sentenced Vick to 23 months after hearing of his involvement in a dogfighting ring where the weaker dogs were electrocuted, hanged and drowned.

Writing that last sentence has given me pause.

Actually, the place where he belongs IS on a football field, a gladiator in pads killing or being killed, within the rules, of course.

I have to say I love the idea of Vick, the player, in green, that wild card that will give defensive coordinators nightmares. I just am never going to picture Vick, the man, without picturing some hapless dog paying for its weakness with its life.

I called one of my friends in Louisville after I heard the news.

I have spent countless hours rooting for teams that disappoint me off the field, I moaned.

The Eagles, I said, despite all their news releases about their humanitarian efforts,  have signed a man who profited from the torture of animals,  I said.

My favorite college basketball team? Louisville  coach Rick Pitino turns out to have slept with that woman who was extorting him.

And order an over-sized  asterisk for my Boston Red Sox, because Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz seem to have won the team’s first championship in 86 years fueled by more juice than you can find in a Jamba franchise.

My friend is a little older. A little wiser.

“I guess the lesson is we should stop caring about other people,” he said with the sort of irony I treasure in old my friend.

“Maybe from now on we should just start caring about ourselves.”

Ok, maybe being more selfish isn't the anwer. But once again I feel like a schmuck for rooting for a team that has let me down. When am I going to grow up?