The Ever-Elusive Michael Vick

8:29 PM John
I like how Vick said this, and no one told him he is an idiot: “I’m a firm believer in God, and I believe in karma,” said Vick…

8:32 PM Samantha
karma, for him, will be a bitch. …Idiot

…There, I said it!

The formerly disgraced quarterback Michael Vick, when speaking to prospective N.F.L. rookies on Monday, displayed a rhetorical agility far greater than any head-turning juke he performed on a football field. Vick was addressing the league’s so-called rookie symposium, apparently as a designated bogeyman, having spent nearly two years in prison after being convicted for his role in an appalling dogfighting racket. As Vick put it:

That’s bad. You dont want to end up that way.

via Michael Vick orders NFL rookies not to count on second chances | NFL.com.

Most media outlets took the new and improved Vick at full, fantasy value (ranked No. 19 in 2010!), describing his talk as candid and powerful. My own thinking was tackled by Vick’s assertion (in the same sentence!) that he is “a firm believer in God” and “in karma.”

He only looks angry. (From “Creation of the Sun and Moon” on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo.

I do not mean to endorse spiritual world views in this space, let alone promulgate my own, such as they are. But it does seem like part of the overall bargain that such views have a semblance of internal consistency. Vick’s seeming ignorance of the monumental clash between the monotheistic first clause of his comment and the polytheistic second clause is enough to cause serious, if only mental, injury.

To be fair to Vick, that dualistic mind-set jibes well with the rest of America, which seems to have no difficulty or compunction picking and choosing from among the bible’s many inconsistencies and contradictions, and then spending all evening watching TV programs about aliens, bigfoots and other supernatural oddities.

Vick goes on, as if cracking into a busted dialectical play. Vick warns that “if you don’t appreciate what God gave you,” “he’ll take that away from you.” In Vick’s case, of course, it was the federal government that took away what God “gave” him, not God himself, but the record in Scripture is not exactly clear. Some of the time, God takes it away from you even if you do appreciate it (Job 1:1). And some of the time, God just squares up his shoulders and goes linebacker all over you (Genesis 32:24-5).

The rest of Vick’s speech is a jumble of stale platitudes, not surprising from a football player but faithfully, disappointingly, reported by The A.P. and the N.F.L., among others: “You’ve got a lot of learning to do, a lot of life to live…”; “Your friend can’t make you do something you really don’t want to do if you’re strong enough to say no”; “Trust yourself”; “Once this is over, it’s over”; “Enjoy the ride.”

The best part, probably, is that most observers took Vick’s central message to be that rookies should not count on second chances. Apparently, that stems more from Vick’s notion of karma than whatever prison-Christian heresies he has adopted. Second chances are, or so I have read, a bedrock of Christian theology.