Some will say that Michael Vick's sentence was too harsh. Others will say that 23 months in jail is not nearly enough, and that the former Atlanta Falcon quarterback should suffer more for his crimes.
Clearly, however, his "punishment" will extend beyond the sentence handed down Monday, even if the nearly two-year sentence is reduced for good behavior. For one, that is a federal sentence, and he still faces state charges in Virginia regarding the dogfighting ring he ran there.
His bank account also will be severely depleted by creditors, and the Falcons are likely to try to take back the nearly $20 million they paid Vick in bonus money. And, of course, it seems unlikely that he will play professional football anytime soon.
So, it would be hard to characterize what has happened to Vick as "getting off easy." He will pay for his crime in numerous ways. They include ruining a promising career and letting down thousands of fans.
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And he should pay. He now has admitted to bankrolling the dogfighting ring and helping kill some of the animals, both of which he had lied about earlier. His exploitation and cruelty toward those animals is reprehensible.
We hope his expressions of contrition are real and that he genuinely has comprehended the heinous nature of his crime. The ill effects of his actions would be compounded if children who admired him as an athlete came to believe that animal torture is OK because Michael Vick did it.
To counteract that possibility, Vick should consider some form of community outreach, a lecture to kids about the evils of mistreating animals. That would be a welcome amends above and beyond time served in prison.
We fear the South, as a region, may get a black eye from this episode. It should never be assumed that dogfighting or other blood sports are accepted as routine in this region of the country. While those cruel pastimes may once have been more prevalent here, they are no longer part of the culture and are reviled by humane people throughout the South.
And, finally, let us not forget who the real victims were: the dogs, not Vick or the other people who abused them.
Vick will be punished in more ways than simply having to go to jail for 23 months.