To whom it may concern (that would be over 1,500 petition signers):
You must think the petition you’ve signed that aims to keep New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick off the campus of the State University of New York College at Cortland is a noble cause. In reality, it is asinine, it’s conceited and it doesn’t benefit you, either.
To clarify for readers who may not understand the connection, SUNY Cortland has hosted the Jets’ training camp every August since 2009, bar the lockout year of 2011. They plan to return there this summer, but if a group of protest-minded students have their way, their new quarterback, former dogfight emcee Michael Vick, will be legally barred from campus. Vick has to practice with his new team, so the petition effectively tells the entire team to take a hike.
The first thing I see when opening your petition on Change.org is the sickening shot of a mutilated dog, adjacent with Michael Vick sporting a Falcons beanie and a smug mug. People so mortified by animal cruelty would not post the picture of this dog anywhere except for shock value. You cry “sociopath,” “monster” and “disgrace.” You say he “has never once apologized” (factually untrue).
You say that Vick served a jail sentence, but that “that does not mean… that his crimes should be forgotten.” Similarly, for every comment I read on this New York Daily News article saying that Vick has paid his debt, there is a reply saying little more than “No, he hasn’t.” I understand that Vick’s animal cruelty charges were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea, that he only served time for the bankrolling of a dogfighting ring, but that’s our justice system at work. Play vigilante all you want – he served his time.
I truly hope nobody treats you the way you wish to treat Vick (like he’s an unapologetic, proven serial killer who got off on a technicality). Do you have to perpetually pay for the mistakes you made five or ten years ago? You haven’t received forgiveness or a second chance? You people who signed this petition are taking a very anti-forgiveness, anti-second-chance stance. Vick’s crimes were horrific, but I advise that he who is without sin among you to cast the first stone.
Now, let’s look at what you’d be doing to the innocent citizens of Cortland by turning Vick and the Jets away. The Jets stop by SUNY Cortland for a few weeks each year to stretch and run some drills on their turf, and in return, the entire town cashes in. I visited Jets camp in Cortland myself two years ago. You know, the year of Tebow and the media circus? ESPN practically broadcast Sportscenter live from your insignificant village for two weeks. Can you imagine how much extra dough your town earned putting up Sal Paolantonio and his merry band of TV crew, and all the other media types in town? Syracuse.com’s Lindsay Kramer reported it was about $5.5 million.
In short, the Jets don’t need you. You need the Jets. I’m sure SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Fredonia or some other college would be happy to capitalize on your loss. But more important here is that Vick has made the most of his second chance in the league, and you want to deny him the career he earned and earned again.
Maybe I wouldn’t be writing this open letter if the Jets weren’t my favorite team, but no matter what team Vick had signed with this offseason, I’d think it laughable if the campus that hosted that team’s camp tried to ban him. I was not a big Michael Vick fan at the time he was sentenced. I was not a big fan when he was reinstated, either, but I still had no problem with it.
A parting thought. I reject your premise that “if we welcome Vick onto our campus, we are complicit in his crimes.” But if you truly believe that, there are better ways to protest. I’m sure out of your 1,500 petition signers, there are a few of you who like football. The real right thing to do would be to boycott the NFL who reinstated Vick – you know, back in 2009. Forget training camp! Don’t consume anything they sell! Don’t watch a single game of NFL football for the rest of your lives, or at least until the NFL kicks Vick out for good (basically the same thing).
That’ll show them.