Obama on Michael Vick: He Deserved a Second Chance
The White House has confirmed that President Obama, vacationing with his family in Hawaii, made a phone call yesterday to the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles in which he praised the team for allowing convicted dog fighter Michael Vick a second chance at his career.
Although the main purpose of the call was to commend the team for its plan to use alternative energy sources at its stadium, the comments that are generating buzz are those relating to Vick. Reports the Washington Post:
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports that during their conversation Obama was passionate about Vick's comeback.
"He said, 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,' " said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. "He said, 'It's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.' And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.''
The administration was quick to point out that Obama's comments were not meant to be an endorsement of Vick's crimes, which included running an illegal dog-fighting ring and deceiving investigators. Vick served 19 months in prison and was released in May 2009.
Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said Obama "of course condemns the crimes that Michael Vick was convicted of, but, as he's said previously, he does think that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again."
Because Vick has, among other things, traveled around the country giving speeches about his indiscretions, PETA is apparently behind Obama's comments. "Obama's a sports guy, Vick's a sports guy, and comebacks and redemption can happen," said PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk. "We all want a president who can lift us up and move us forwards when ugly things happen, but that cannot let us forget and remain watchful to avoid future abuses."