Vick intends to redeem himself…

August 28, 2007 | Drew Forrester

… the question remains, though — does he know how?

Exactly how should Michael Vick begin the process of displaying his remorse for his role in this dogfighting scandal?

Should he volunteer at PETA? Or the local dog pound? Those are serious questions. Some have suggested he must face the music by providing his time and energy to organizations that proudly associate themselves with the HUMANE treatment of animals.

I don’t think that’s the right road for Vick to travel. Why? It’s too obvious. A lot of people will scoff at that: “Yeah, NOW he cares about animals. Sure.”

How’s Vick going to make everyone believe that he’s on the way to being a changed man?

One word: MONEY.

Now, far be it for someone to suggest that Michael Vick cough up a bunch of dough when it’s apparent he’s going to take a fairly big hit in the bank account once the Falcons go through the process of recouping some of that $35 million signing bonus they gave him a couple of years ago. He’s not going to be broke, mind you, but he’s also not going to be buying any $10 million yachts anytime soon once the Falcons make their score and his attorneys file their invoices with Vick’s executive assistant.

Yet, MONEY is the way Vick can redeem himself.

Between now and his sentencing date, Michael Vick has to go out of his way to show the judge that he’s not only remorseful for his actions, but also proactive in his efforts to “redeem himself.”

There has to be a piece of vacant land in the Atlanta area that could serve as the home for some kind of animal treatment facility. Vick diving in and “visiting your local SPCA” would be too transparent. Vick forking over a check for $1 million to pay for the land, the construction of the building and the first three years of staff salaries might make more of a statement. If the powers-that-be want to attach Vick’s name to the effort and the building (when complete), that’s fine. “The Vick Center for Animal Health” sounds like something he SHOULD pay a million bucks to be a part of, right?

In his reign of dog-fighting terror, Vick not only hurt dogs, he hurt the Falcons, the city of Atlanta and the NFL. That’s where more money comes in.

He needs to come up with some kind of program in conjunction with the Falcons that rewards Atlanta-area school children with visits from Falcons players as well as tickets to the team’s home games in future years. He will, of course, pay for those tickets, the transportation, etc. Pick a number — another million bucks, perhaps, and inform Michael he has quite a hefty bill to pay off with the kids of Atlanta. As for the Falcons, the organization he’s personally sent into shambles, it’s time for Vick to somehow make good to them. Whether or not they EVER want him back isn’t the issue as it relates to his responsibility to them. He needs to give them a blank check and say, “whatever I can do to help, I will.”

Why should MONEY play such a key role in all of this?

Because everyone who supported Michael Vick along the way did so with THEIR money. How do you think he got so rich in the first place? People supported him with THEIR money. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. It’s probably not a Reebok shoe, by the way.

The fans — the ones who are left with a team that will be lucky to go 4-12 this year — have shelled out top dollar to not only see Vick play, but they’ve contributed to his rock-star status by buying his now-diseased #7 Falcons jersey at a record clip. No one supported Vick more than club owner Arthur Blank, who personally authorized his much-discussed $130 million contract and who, no doubt, must be personally embarrassed at the manner in which one of his key employees has openly disgraced his (Blank’s) good name.

How about the sponsors? Reebok, Rawlings, etc.? They handed Vick their own blank check and simply said, “just sell our product for us, Michael … we trust you can do that.”

Trust is a word Michael Vick won’t hear much anymore. He’s betrayed that trust. His family no longer trusts him. The league and his employer no longer trust him. And the public certainly doesn’t trust him.

I must admit that I thought Vick handled himself quite well today. He spoke from the heart, acknowledging from the outset that he was better at football than public speaking. Yet, he was apologetic, human and, it seemed, a harmless type of fellow. But, with his guilty verdict today, we know the “harmless” description doesn’t fit.

He harmed a lot of people. The long arm of the law reached out, swooped him in and said, “Young man, the time has come for you to pay for your actions.”

And the time HAS come for Vick to pay.

And he should. Literally.

Monies that his followers and supporters spent on Vick should now be turned back over by Vick. He should do that for the good of his community and the people he’s betrayed.