Dear Michael Vick;
Congratulations on your reinstatement to the NFL. And while I personally do not agree with the League's decision and am one of those who believe you lost the privilege to work in the NFL the moment you began your 6+ year-long operation of your interstate dog fighting ring involving abuse, torture and execution of dogs, with portions involving drugs and gambling, I am willing to accept the Commissioner's decision to allow you back into the league. I, along with millions of others, hope you make the most of this incredible gift you've been given - your "second chance" if you will - as if you'd been working for my company I can guarantee you that you would not be welcomed back. Ever again.
And so here you are, on the threshold of rejoining the league, to suit up once again with some NFL franchise willing to accept the onslaught of protests, press and angry fans who are not so ready to forgive, let alone forget. And I'm sure you can't wait to get started again - to sign what will likely be a league-minimum contract of $595,000 (more than many will make in 10 years of work) that will begin to get you back onto the road of financial recovery.
So here's some friendly advice.
Take a year off.
You are now able to return to the league, but maybe it's best that you don't. Take the high road, and prove to all of us that your heart is in the right place. That it's not about the money. How?
After you apologized to the judge, your family and your children at your federal sentencing hearing on December 10, Judge Hudson stated: "I think you should have apologized also to the millions of young people who look up to you."
This is your chance.
Go out and start an urban youth league, to help troubled kids find the joy of athletics. You said in a 2001 interview with the Newport News Daily Press that when you were 10 or 11, "I would go fishing even if the fish weren't biting, just to get out of there" and away from the violence and stress of daily life in the projects. Go help kids find the escape you found. Earn their trust back. And show the world the new and improved Michael Vick.
And while you're taking this season off to do good things in your community, why don't you take a little time to get to know your three children - especially your youngest who was 3 months old when you were caught and sent away. Life in the NFL has a way of keeping families apart for much of the season - all the more reason for you to spend this next year with your family, rather than your teammates. I'm sure your children would be thrilled to have you put them first in your life - at least for the next 12 months - and just think of what a great example you'd be for other fathers out there. "Family first" could become your new catch-phrase - and you'd be backing it up by actually putting your family first. My little ad agency would even be happy to print up t-shirts for you if you wanted to wear that slogan and spread the word to others - just let me know.
And yes, I think we all understand the financial stress your bankruptcy is currently causing you, but don't underestimate the monetary potential of the talk show circuit, the press, and even a CNN documentary where you could finally tell your entire story - in all of it's horrific details - to let the world see exactly what you did so we all can try to learn something from it. Speak up, and I think you'll find a world of us eager to listen - as the truth has a way of cutting through everything else.
In fact, if the money is the only reason why you feel playing this season in the NFL is more important than helping the community, earning the trust and respect back from people of all ages, spending time with your own children, and helping expose the nightmarish evils of dogfighting, then I'd be more than willing to attempt to start a "Help Michael Vick Take the Year Off" fund, where people could donate $10 to your cause - to keep you off the field this season so you can focus your energies in areas that would benefit FAR more from your presence, skills and determination. Just imagine if we're able to find 1 million people willing to donate $10 each - you'd be well on your way to financial recovery. And something tells me we might even find people willing to donate much more. So again, just let me know as I'd be more than happy to start that ball rolling for you. In fact, I've even gone so far as to purchase a few url's for a site that we could make donation-ready within a few days if you approved of the idea, where all monies would go directly towards helping pay off any financial obligation you may have so you could stay focused. I'm not sure which url would be best though, so I'd love your input:
We own all three, so let me know which you'd prefer to go with as they each have their merits.
Think of all the good you could do, right now, at this moment in time, while off of the field. And then, next year, after you've had 12 months to show the world what you're actually capable of, you'd be coming back to a world of fandom that would very likely welcome you back with open arms.
So go ahead, take the next 12 months and focus on things that should REALLY be important to you right now, after over 2 years of prison time. Because the NFL - and many of us fans - can wait until you're good and ready.
– Jim Olen