Four words that do not belong in the same sentence: “Michael Vick” and “role model.” Throw in role model for kids, and all I have to say is run for cover, folks.
The former Atlanta Falcon, disgraced when his role running a dog-fighting ring was exposed, has reportedly left his job at a construction company (part of his parole from prison) to work with the Boys and Girls Club in Newport News, Va., his hometown.
I’m glad to hear he’s working for a non-profit AND meeting the conditions of his parole. But the Boys and Girls Club? This is not the kind of guy you want around your kids, folks. His particular crime speaks to a basic cruelty at his core.
He may have served his time, but this guy is not exactly light and fluffy. Nor was his crime some white collar, “I evaded my taxes, but I’m still a cuddly teddy bear who likes making balloon animals for sick kids,” type of transgression.
Just to refresh your memories, the former star quarterback was the mastermind of a dogfighting ring in which dogs were not only forced to fight but brutally killed. It earned him twenty-three months in prison plus post-release supervision. Add that on top of the Ron Mexico fiasco– whereby he was accused of knowingly passing STDs to several women (he allegedly used Ron Mexico as an alias when he sought treatment), and you can see why I’m not thinking “sweet teddy bear” when I think Michael Vick (and yes, I’m a Virginia Tech fan, he should get a little extra sympathy out of me). Just check out some of the details on what happened with the dog fighting:
Now out of prison, he’s home in the Newport News area where he and brother Marcus (the other screw-up in the four-sibling Vick family) were raised and actually took part in Boys and Girls Club activities. It’s actually the same B&G Club that he’s now working for as a temporary youth aide.
Says the Newport News B&G Club president, “Because we think there is an opportunity for our children to learn lessons from his experiences, we have chosen to support Michael in his efforts to make amends.”
So what’s my problem here? I am all for criminals doing community service and getting jobs. But Vick is a nasty piece of work being put into an environment filled with kids who are very often particularly vulnerable.
The Boys and Girls Club mission is to “promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.”
Note the word “influence.” As in, who’s influencing these kids?
Because Vick isn’t being put out on the road to start talking to kids about what a jerk he is and how much he screwed up a life that was paved in gold. He’s being sent in as a regular “youth aide.” And that’s where I draw the line on convicts and community service.
Send a woman who committed vehicular manslaughter while drunk into high schools to talk about the dangers of DWI. Send a young father who killed his baby into teen parenting classes.
But in jobs where you’re working with kids, extreme cruelty to animals should be a giant red flag on the job application. Michael Vick has not shown himself as someone whose natural inclinations make him worthy of working at “the positive place for kids.”
This isn’t just about rehabilitation for Michael Vick. This is about the hundreds of kids who he’ll come in contact with in the coming months. Has anyone thought about them?