Sunday, August 30, 2009


On Aug. 13 the Philadelphia Eagles signed a one-year contract with Michael Vick, former quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. As nearly everyone knows, Vick had been released by the Falcons after being arrested for involvement in illegal dogfighting. Vick served a 23-month prison sentence for his crimes, and will remain on probation for three years.

Some observers argue that Vick's crime was heinous enough that he should not be allowed to play professional football again. Others insist that, having done his time for the crime, there's nothing wrong with him signing with any team that will have him. What do you think?

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Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2009 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)


Anonymous said...

Obviously, Jeffrey needs to acquire some PETA readers, since one would expect these crazies to be first in line to demand Michael Vick not only not be allowed to play NFL football but should be put back in jail for life for his "heinous" crimes. Not to make light of the horrible dog fighting ring that Vick was a part of, but can we at least agree that Vick was found guilty, sentenced to jail and honorably served his time therein, without the slightest hint of trouble. Since his release from jail, he has conducted himself honorably and correctly and convinced the Philadelphia Eagles to sign him and he has already played during the second pre-season Eagle game. Not unexpectantly, PETA and other usually female protestors have put in their appearance. My opinion has been since Vick's release, that since the NFL commissioner has approved his transition to active NFL status, that the criers and haters who constantly bombard Vick with unforgiving taunts should be ignored and Vick should be left in peace. Unuestionably, he has been properly punished and should now be allowed to take his place in society as the person who deserves this reward.

Charlie Seng
Lancsater, SC

Inverseview said...

Seems to me that professionals are held to a higher standard whether medicine, the law, financial services, celebrity. When afforded or choosing to accept those special privileges the game changes. Life changed for Pete Rose for gambling among Roger Clemens and other sensational athletes that may have taken restricted performance enhancing substances routinely prescribed to older people. And the penalties for latter have been severe.

Now comes Michael Vick whose mentality is cruel and unusual. Somehow football dismisses Vick as just another guy that broke an arbitrary set of rules seemingly devoid of the basic societal tenet such as Thou shall not KILL. Vick's travesties fall into much higher felonious class than the politics that governs professional sports.

Apparently Mr. Goddell and his board have turned a blind eye to the fact that domestic animals perform invaluable services to millions of Americans each and every day. In fact, the most advanced technology capable of transforming the lives of Americans with disabilities has a cold nose and a warm heart.

Yet it's okay for the NFL to dismiss the cruel and unusual punishment Michael Vick inflicted on a species dedicated to helping mankind just because there is no statute nor enforcement to rightfully protect the servants of humans.

The case against the NFL is stronger than Vick. Perhaps Vick knew no better. Goddell and company surely do know better.

Yet with the NFL business, it's all about the money. The NFL should take lessons in corporate governance from Google. Do no evil, support no evil. But then again, the NFL has exemptions from Congress that have outlived their usefulness much the same as statutes that do not impose severe penalties against killers.

Think about it. 175 years ago slavery was also legal.

James Zipadelli said...

It is unfortunate Jeff, that those with the resources and the money get second chances like the one Michael Vick is getting with the Eagles.

A job applicant with a history as a convicted felon rarely, if at all, gets a job, let alone signing with another NFL team. But because the NFL is a business as well as entertainment, Vick is kind of like their version of Tiger Woods in terms of natural talent. They know that people will come to see Vick run.

All I'm saying is that celebrities that get in trouble with the law should struggle the same way as people who don't have the money. If that were the case, Vick would be lucky to be working at the local dump. Really, that's where he belongs.

Anonymous said...

What the NFL and other sports groups need are ethics rules that have teeth........teeth with real bite. Test positive for steroids? You're out for life. Gamble on your own team? Out for life. Convicted of a felony? Same....out for life. Test positive for illegal drugs? Guess're out for life.

It wouldn't take long for players to fall in line and live cleaner lives. They might even be happier for it. They certainly would be better role models. And that's what they are.......role models, for better or for worse.

But we don't need to hold our breath while we wait for the leagues to make such rules.....and to enforce them.