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Rebuilding Trust: The Michael Vick Story

Michael Vick is getting a second chance to play football in the NFL. I’m glad. We all deserve a second chance.

Vick served 23 months in prison for operating an interstate dog fighting ring. A summary of the case can be found here.

I’m interested in writing about Vick because of what we can learn about what it takes to rebuild trust. It’s difficult. Many will not give you a second chance. And this is not something that you can do on your own. But here’s what I’ve learned from Vick:

1) Michael Vick (The trust re-builder). Vick has taken personal responsibility for his mistakes. He has served his sentence. He has shown remorse. He professes to understand what he did wrong and is committed to making amends. Now his actions, not his words will speak for Vick.

2) Tony Dungy (The mentor). Dungy has become personally involved in the case and has offered his help to Vick. Vick has little credibility. Dungy has a tremendous amount. Dungy began working with Vick while Vick was still in prison and before Vick’s return to the NFL was assured. It’s hard to imagine a former Super Bowl coach in a prison, but not for Dungy. He has worked ex-offenders before as part of his Christian outreach program. Without the time and commitment of his mentor, Vick would have had no chance to return to the NFL.

3) Donovan McNabb (The friend). Vick’s return to the NFL required a team to take a chance on him. The Philadelphia Eagles were not going to take a chance without their star quarterback, Donovan McNabb, signing off on the deal. Lucky for Vick, McNabb had already told Coach Andy Reid to get Vick. Who could ask for a better friend — to stand by you in your time of need.

4) Jeffrey Lurie (The employer). Vick needed an employer to give him a job. Lurie calls the decision to offer Vick a job a “soul-searching decision,” recognizing that not all fans will agree that Vick deserved a second chance. But Lurie gave Vick a chance and expects Vick to be very proactive in speaking out against dog fighting. Lurie, it turns out, is a dog lover and hopes to see an end to dog fighting.

5) Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (the opportunity for redemption). While still in prison, Vick reached out to Pacelle. Vick wanted to make amends. Could the Humane Society, who pushed so hard for Vick’s prosecution, find a role for Vick? Pacelle reports that some of his board members where opposed to the idea. Pacelle eventually convinced his board and Vick had an opportunity to redeem himself. Pacelle writes more about the 60 Minutes on his blog: Wayne Pacelle: A Humane Nation.

I hope that Vick makes the most of his second chance.

Now can we find the mentors, friends, employers and opportunities for redemption for the more than 2 million people in prison in the US?

You can learn more about nonprofits serving ex-offenders by searching GuideStar.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice