Why Is Michael Vick Still The Most Hated Player In The NFL?
Things aren’t going very well for Michael Vick right now. After leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 34-7 blowout against the Dallas Cowboys last week, Vick took the field last night in Philly last night and experienced a complete letdown alongside his teammates as the Eagles lost 30-24 against the Chicago Bears. As far as fantasy football is concerned, Vick—who lead just about, well, everyone in points in the second half of last season—has been a disappointment as he’s struggled to put up as many points as some mid-level NFL quarterbacks despite the fact that many fantasy football owners drafted him in the first or second round this season. And now comes the news that in spite of all the work he’s done both on and off the football field in recent years, MV7 is still the most hated man in the NFL.
According to a recent Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research survey, Vick is easily still the most hated of all NFL players. The poll showed that 60 percent of respondents to the poll chose either “dislike,” “dislike somewhat,” or “dislike a lot” when asked about Vick. The two guys who finished directly behind him? New York Jets receiver Plaxico Burress and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who, like Vick, have had their share of legal woes in the past. But, here are the questions that come out of all this: Are people ever going to be able to forgive Vick for what he did a few years ago? Will they be able to overlook the federal dogfighting charges and jail time he was forced to go up against? Will they ever get over their “hate” for him? And, most importantly, why is Vick still the most hated man in the NFL?
The truth is that there are some people out there who, quite frankly, are never going to like Michael Vick again. Hell, there are actually a number of people out there—a sizable number, I would guess—who didn’t like Vick even before the dogfighting troubles. As a young player with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick had a certain swagger about him that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. It would also be foolish not to bring race into the mix when discussing Vick. As a young player, he was given a huge contract that was going to pay him more than $100 million. There are people out there who saw that and weren’t happy with it, especially when the perception was that Vick wouldn’t be able to lead the Falcons to a Super Bowl.
But, in recent years, a lot of the hatred towards Vick has stemmed from the dogfighting stuff. No matter how many speeches he delivers at schools, no matter how much is taken away from him, and no matter how many times he apologizes, people automatically associate dogfighting with Vick and hate him for it. There are a lot of people out there who are simply unable to get over it. And there aren’t enough personal accolades and achievements Vick can win to make them forget it.
In Vick’s defense, he has done his best to move on past the legal dramas without moving so far that it seems as though he’s “moved on.” He still gets asked about it and he still answers the questions in an effort to prove that he hasn’t forgotten the bad things that he’s done. He also continues to work with organizations that encourage kids not to get caught up in any illegal activity. His wrongs have probably helped save the lives of lots of innocent dogs out there, whether the people who hate him want to believe it or not.
In the end, dogfighting will always be synonymous with Michael Vick. If he’s still playing in five years, there’s a good chance he’ll still be at the top of the list, even if he’s won five Super Bowls and gone to the Pro Bowl five straight years. It’s just the way it works. If you mess up big time like Vick did, you have to live with the public’s perception of you for the rest of your life.
However, I’d encourage everyone who participates in these polls to really think. Do you really hate Michael Vick as a player and as a man, or do you just hate his actions from a few years ago? I’d be willing to bet that most people don’t actually hate Vick anymore. They just think that they should hate him and, therefore, select one of the “dislike” options when asked.
I’m by no means condoning anything that Vick did. I’m a New York Giants fan and I’ve got a whole bunch of reasons to hate the guy outside of the dogfighting. But what are we really proving by voting him the “Most Hated” year after year after year? Nothing. All we’re doing is jumping on the anti-Vick bandwagon and keeping a movement going that should have been stopped a long time ago. It might not be next year or the year after that or even the year after that, but we have to learn to stop the hate. Because while Michael Vick isn’t the most admirable guy in the world, he’s at least tried to make himself more likable. And doesn’t he deserve a little bit of credit for doing that?