So, after all the posturing, Michael Vick is set to enter a Guilty plea in court. His plea has been carefully worded to minimize his culpability and he is expected to throw himself upon the mercy of the court.
Opinions differ greatly on what his punishment should be. Some say he should get the maximum (5 years, I believe.) Others feel he ought to serve no more than 18 months. Still others have suggested that the punishment fit the crime and that Vick should be thrown into a fighting ring with those dogs he helped train to kill.
I say he shouldn't serve any jail time. Not one single minute.
Before anyone castigates me as a Vick apologist, let me clarify my position. Vick's crimes were heinous and he should never be allowed to set foot on an NFL field again. He deserves to lose what may amount to millions of dollars in salary and endorsements. He also deserves to suffer the fate that, no matter what steps he takes to repair his image, like OJ or Pete Rose, his legacy will forever be linked to this horrible situation.
However, what good will it do anyone if Vick serves 5 years in jail? Those who gleefully anticipate that he will be beaten and sodomized daily are a.) depraved in their own way and b.) fooling themselves. He will be looked upon as a celebrity hero in jail. He can regale inmates with stories of his sick pursuits and tales of his gridiron glories. When he gets out, he will be the same man as he was when he went in except with possibly a greater sense of self-aggrandizement and importance. Does this sound like punishment to you?
No, we are missing a HUGE opportunity here to turn this nightmare into something positive.
Let Vick spend his five years going around the country to inner city and rural schools, lecturing impressionable kids about the dangers of running afoul of law. Make him promote animal benevolence in numerous PSA's to the point where it may dawn on him that his behavior has been deplorable. Sentence him to work the phones for Animal Rights groups. There are many avenues of repentance and Vick should be forced to travel down every one of them.
People close to Vick have gone on record as saying that, deep down, he has a good heart.
Make us believe it.