Photo: elvis_payne, Flickr Creative Commons
I used to hate Michael Vick. The only professional sports team that I have ever really cared about is the Atlanta Falcons. I have teams that I prefer in the other pro sports (and they're almost always from Atlanta), but if the Hawks lose, I'm not really going to care. I'm a little bitter about the moving of the Thrashers to Canada, but I will survive.
I would murder Arthur Blank if he moved the Falcons out of the state.
And to any FBI or other law enforcement agencies, that is hyperbole. I would not actually murder Arthur Blank. This is just to make the point that I'd be really pissed off. I'd probably resort to a nasty blog post here and leave it at that.
Back to Vick, I hated him because he was on my team. He had so much talent, so often flashed signs of genius, but never consistently rose any higher than mediocrity. It was painful. At least Joey Harrington was supposed to suck, so seeing him suck was never painful. I was actually relieved when Vick was shipped off to prison because it meant his time in Atlanta was over. I was better able to bear the miserable Bobby Petrino season after Vick's arrest simply because I knew the Vick era was over.
That doesn't mean I'm a complete asshole, though. When the guy was released and picked up by the Eagles, I really hoped he'd changed. I love a good story and a guy like that turning things around and regaining what he could have lost is a great story. I love positive exceptions to the rules. When it turned out that Vick at least turned around his game last year, I immediately started pulling for the guy. Listening to what people who are more likely to know than me have to say, it really seems the guy has grown as a person as well. If it's true, I wish the guy nothing but the best. I hope he plays his last years in the NFL at a Hall-of-Fame level and retires before it's obvious that he's washed up...
Except this weekend. I hope he gets smashed into the Georgia Dome turf repeatedly, throws nothing but interceptions, and limps off the field a broken man. He's playing my Falcons, after all.
Next week, I'll be cheering for him again, and that's why sports are so awesome.
On a related note, if you get the time, read this article about Atlanta receiver Roddy White. It's another redemption story, although this one a just-in-time about face. This is the second article about how White recovered from being a near bust just after Vick's last season that I've read, and they both make me appreciate the guy even more.