Sally Jenkins wrote an article in the Washington Post that basically says she hopes Michael Vick plays well because it will allow her to feel that Vick has gained an appreciation for the wrongs he committed, and in doing so will be redeemed for his dog fighting transgressions. (In all fairness to Sally, she also states that she is aware she is being sucked in by the ‘hallmark moment’ elements of Vick’s journey.)
Unfortunately for Sally, her entire article is based on the false assumption that there is a correlation between a person’s athletic ability and their sense of morality. It argues that redemption can be achieved by performing well in a field completely unrelated to the act from which you are seeking redemption. By this same logic, the NY cab driver who stabbed his Muslim passenger can achieve redemption by becoming a better cab driver than what he was prior to the stabbing. This is a false correlation as the person’s cab driving ability was never the issue in question, it was his tolerance of Muslims. As in the case of Michael Vick, it is not his athletic ability that is the issue, it is his morality towards animals. Stating that he can achieve redemption by having a winning season is a logical fallacy as there is no causation between how many touchdowns he scores versus how many dogs he kills. As I’ve written before, redemption is achieved when one takes step to correct the wrongs they have committed – but since nothing Michael Vick does can bring back the animals he killed, redemption cannot be achieved.
Despite our sincerest wishes that no matter how far we stray in life we can always achieve redemption, the reality is that there are certain acts that one cannot correct. Vick is in one of those situations, and as such all he can hope to accomplish is to educate others as to why he was wrong and to explain to them that there are certain acts that no amount of PR can correct. It’s not redemption, but it’s the closest Vick will ever get.