The Waiting Game Begins In Virginia

By Sam Donnellon
Updated: May 21, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — Here’s what awaited Michael Vick upon his release from a Kansas prison yesterday: Bankruptcy court proceedings. A $10 an hour construction job.

A not-so-veiled threat by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals that they will unleash their hounds should NFL commissioner Roger Goodell even contemplate reinstating the former Falcons quarterback, once the NFL’s highest-paid player, without conducting a full psychiatric evaluation.

A renewed public debate about the degree of heinousness to his crime, the length of punishment and — this is the most important — the sincerity of his contrition.

Oh, did I mention he is about to turn 29 and hasn’t taken an NFL snap in two full seasons? If he wasn’t such a pug, I might even feel a little sorry for the guy.

Sorry. That was uncalled for. I’ve petted more than a few cute pugs out there, gentle souls, sweet, loving and trusting creatures.

Michael Vick is not a pug.

He’s a bad human – a bad, bad, bad human – or at least he was before his sentence began 19 months ago. Now the debate is over whether his reformation is sincere or schemed and – for PETA at least – whether he is right enough in the head to be allowed to play with all those other right-in-head humans in the NFL.

You know, like T.O.?

Here’s PETA’s Shawna Flavell, posting on their Web site 5 hours after Vick was released:

“Until Michael Vick undergoes the vigorous psychiatric tests now available to determine his ability to experience remorse, there’s no way to establish whether he will offend again, and he therefore has no business being primed to become a role model for children, which is what an NFL star is. PETA will not take anything off the table when it comes to any team or league that may sign Michael Vick.”

(Any league? Admit it: The image of a PETA protest before a Lingerie League game is almost worth it. Almost.)

Here’s what you should know: Vick, through his representatives, recently asked to meet with Humane Society of the United States president Wayne Pacelle, who said Vick expressed interest in a program aimed at eradicating dogfighting among urban teens.

Here’s Wayne, blogging yesterday morning as well:

“Maybe if there had been an intervention program in Newport News 15 years ago, a young Michael Vick would have grown to love and respect pit bulls, and he would not have done these terrible things to dogs.”

“For me, it’s not about Michael Vick and providing endless punitive treatment. It’s about stopping other young people from going down the road Vick took. It’s about having kids today put down their break sticks and destroy their pit bull treadmills.”

Pacelle also wrote that, “I sat with the man but I still don’t know what’s in his heart.”

Neither does PETA. Neither knows heart nor head, but here’s what’s troubling: For much of his incarceration, Vick’s people and PETA have discussed having him make public service announcements on their behalf.

How do I know this?

Because PETA’s Dan Shannon wrote it on PETA’s Web site on Jan. 21.

Here’s Shannon, in his posting, announcing that a letter had been sent to the NFL: “Asking that convicted dogfighter Michael Vick be subjected to a psychological test as well as an MRI brain scan like the one now in use at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in order to look for evidence of clinical psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder . . .

“For the past 18 months, PETA has been meeting with Vick’s management and legal teams behind the scenes about having Vick deliver a strong anti-dogfighting TV spot.”

A condition to that was for Vick to undergo testing to determine whether he was a clinical psychopath, “doomed to repeat mean, violent behavior in the future – whether with dogs or other human beings.”

He hasn’t to this point. And Pacelle and the Humane Society have issued no such demand in accepting Vick as a spokesman against violence against animals.

“He said this experience has been a trauma and he’s changed forever,” Pacelle wrote yesterday. “He asked for an opportunity to help. I want to give him that opportunity.

“If he makes the most of it, and demonstrates a sincere, long-term commitment to the task, then it may prove to be a tipping point in our campaign to eradicate dogfighting. If he demonstrates a fleeting or superficial interest, then it will be his own failing, not ours.”

And it will confirm once and for all what PETA wants to know for sure right now:

That Michael Vick is a bad human, a bad, bad, bad human.