There is a stupid thing in the New York Times today, which if read aloud in the proper cadence would sound quite a bit like a warmup oration for a tar-and-feathering. It's about Michael Vick, of course, and it argues that no team in the NFL should sign Michael Vick, for the sake of the children.
After rehashing the violent details of Vick's past involvement in dogfighting—a crime he was convicted of over six years ago, and for which he's paid with a 23-month jail sentence and ongoing pariah status—the column arrives at what might be called its point:
The cast of characters in Saturday's game was a reminder of just how generous the league is with its ridiculous offers of second chances, like Vick's.
Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper made racist remarks about African-Americans — on a team filled with African-Americans — and still ended up starting in the playoffs, the recipient of roaring cheers.
Saints Coach Sean Payton was suspended last year for a bounty program in which players were paid to inflict serious injuries on their opponents, and still he was hailed for ushering the Saints to their first ever road playoff win.
What can children who watch the game and idolize its players learn from that?
This is a good question, and deserves an answer. What children can learn from Michael Vick's continued presence on a football field is that athletes are not idols, but human beings who sometimes do terrible things and sometimes don't do terrible things. Either way, they are not worthy of the pedestals the New York Times, at least when in "earnest columnizing ca. 1952" mode, assumes we can't help but place them on.