Once again Michael Vick is in the news — the NFL has chosen to honor him.

I told myself that I wasn’t going to write about this, but then here we go. I just can’t help myself.

Of all the players in the NFL, why him? Does he shine the brightest? I don’t believe he does. I think it is safe to say that Vick is despised by most animal lovers, especially the animal advocates worldwide. It is hard to get over the abuse that he and his friends committed against those dogs. Time after time after time for sport and for money.

I believe in second chances, and I believe in forgiveness. I can only hope that he is remorseful and knows what he did is so terribly wrong.

Do I believe he feels remorse? I'm sorry to say I do not, but to be fair I have not sat down with the man and talked to him about it. Maybe he is remorseful. I am not suggesting that Vick not be forgiven, nor do I want anything bad to happen to him. But I am suggesting that the horrendous acts of abuse that he and his friends perpetrated on those poor dogs not be forgotten or diminished in the seriousness of the crime.

Yes, I understand he went to prison and did his time for the crime, as he should — dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states. The dog fighting in itself is bad enough. The torture and abuse that those dogs endured at his hands is the telling point for me. To do what they did takes a certain amount of evil. It would have been one thing to shoot them and be done with it, but they did not do that. They actively tortured those dogs. They did it and they watched it time after time after time. For me, that is a stain on his soul, a lack of compassion and of humanity. He had to have that inside him to do it. Does that stain just go away with prison and his pleas of remorse?

Football is known to be a violent sport and honoring a man who tortured animals is sending a distinct message from the NFL. Vick's torture and abuse of those dogs in their eyes is not important, does not matter in the scheme of things. Vick was allowed to come back to the NFL and make millions. He gets to keep his extravagant lifestyle and perhaps that comes with forgiveness. But to honor him as well for me is simply too much. The NFL is sending the message that animal abuse does not matter.

There so many football players in the league who do wonderful things. Let's honor them. Let the NFL send a message that dog fighting and animal abuse is not to be tolerated by anyone.

Editor's Note: The NFL has selected Michael Vick as one of its 2020 Pro Bowl Legends Captains, along with Pro Football Hall of Famers Terrell Davis, Darrell Green and Bruce Smith.

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 765-356-0900 or at maleahstringer@aol.com.

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