I now know that playing in the NFL is a privilege and not a right.”
These were some of the first words Michael Vick said to the public after being reinstated to the NFL. If he had really understood it was a privilege, he would have treated it like one.
We heard this same spiel from a guy named Adam “Pacman” Jones. He told fans that he understood his duty to honor the privilege, and he was going to change. He is not on an NFL roster now; the Cowboys cut him after “disturbing new evidence” in a 2007 Las Vegas shooting incident involving Jones was uncovered.
Now, I am not saying that Michael Vick is going to throw away his second chance, but too many times in the NFL, players disregard the law and think they are exempt from punishment. Then, once they are thrown in jail, suspended or kicked out of the league, they suddenly realize they were privileged role models.
How many players do they have to see go before they realize that using people’s hard-earned money to go to clubs or get involved in shootings or fund your dog-fighting ring is wrong?
And how many more dads have to explain to their sons that the guy they wanted to be like has gone to jail or can’t play anymore?
Players should learn to be responsible in the same way their fans are responsible. The Michael Vick reinstatement is not just about Vick. It is about Plaxico Burress being told that even after he carried an illegal gun that could have killed someone, he is allowed to play again after he serves his prison sentence. It is about Dante Stallworth getting 24 days in jail for killing a man while driving drunk. The average person gets up to two years in prison, but because Stallworth is an NFL player, he served just 24 days of his 30-day sentence.
The onus does not lie entirely on the players. We need to understand as fans, we fuel the game; we pay for the tickets that make the money to pay the players. So when we stop accepting the fact that players who kill dogs will get a second chance at every turn, we can make players responsible for what they do, just like we are. For once, I want to see a player actually act like he knows it is a privilege to play in the NFL.