There is an interesting parallel between Michael Vick and T.I. It is funny how these two men who made their stomping grounds of Atlanta would find themselves in criminal situations landing them in the pokey. They would both lose endorsements and receive ridicule from the media for their actions. Michael Vick and T.I during and after their ordeals went on campaigns to clean up their images and show that they were remorseful for their actions. They both went on the same road of redemption but a fork in the road happened that would show the difference in their redemption.
T.I. is considered one of the best rap artists of today and is the self-proclaimed King of the South. He had everything from platinum albums to starring in movies alongside Denzel Washington (American Gangster). T.I. would make a bad decision (and stupid) decision to but an arsenal of guns from federal authorities. T.I would ultimately spend about a year in jail for these gun charges. The time up to and after his incarceration he would constantly speak out in public avenues about making wrong decisions in life. He even had an MTV reality show called Road to Redemption where he showed troubled kids how to get out of bad situations in their lives.
Then on the flip side we have the trials of one Michael Vick who besides O.J. Simpson and Ray Carruth have had the most profile criminal cases in sports history. Everyone knows about Vick’s federal indictment for dog fighting and running a criminal organization. The media hype surrounding the dog fighting charges would cost Michael Vick two years in jail, over a 100 million dollars, and two NFL seasons. Vick upon on his release was a model citizen speaking out against animal cruelty and for PETA across the country. He himself also had a sitcom but on BET called The Michael Vick Project.
Both of these men came out of their incarceration with clean slates and a chance to develop a new lease on life. But both men eventually would show the differences in their desire for redemption…
T.I. showed us how he didn’t fully learn about redemption as a few months after being released from jail he was caught with drugs and paraphernalia while riding around in a Maybach in L.A. Did T.I truly learn his lesson? This is not a question to judge T.I. because we all have our vices and short-comings but how many chances do you need to change your habits and lifestyle. T.I. first gets off with only a year in jail for buying an array of guns that rival Rambo in First Blood. Most people who had as much opportunity afford to him with his criminal case and career would think twice before being so cavalier riding around getting high. He wiped away all the things he accomplished with his public speaking and Road to Redemption he campaigned. Although it seems since Tupac Shakur went to jail and the enamored he received upon his release that rappers gets more notoriety every time they get incarcerated.
Michael Vick probably had the hardest road to redemption considering the NFL and Roger Goddell’s push to “clean-up” the league. When he got out of jail, Vick humbled himself to a level never seen from him before in his career. This is the same Michael Vick who flipped off Atlanta Falcons fans his last season there. He took the lowest contract from Philadelphia because most NFL teams didn’t want to touch him with a ten foot pole. Vick sat behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb patiently. He didn’t constantly talk about how he thought he should be the starter. He showed he was a team player and down for whatever the team wanted. When he got his opportunity to prove himself he did it van-glorious fashion propelling the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl contenders practically overnight. This was a 360 from the Michael Vick from the ATL days. Besides the small “incident” this summer where one of his co-defendants was shot and killed at his birthday party we haven’t heard a peep from him. So far it seems that Vick has understood that what is needed of him on this road to redemption.
I sat there this past Monday watching Monday Night Football and while watching Michael Vick put on the best Quarterback performance I have ever seen in the NFL I thought about how Michael Vick is the one who has true redemption not T.I. T.I. seemed to not understand the idea of being a model citizen and playing their role. Maybe T.I. had more to gain because of hip hop’s embrace the bad boy persona than Michael Vick did in the NFL. Or could it be because T.I.’s pockets haven’t got hit as much as Vick’s that he doesn’t see the need to more careful in his dealings. Michael Vick has went from being one of the worst sports stories to now supplanting himself as one of the biggest sports turnarounds in the history of sports. To go from spending two years in the penal system to being a front-runner for the Offensive MVP is the real definition of showing people how you can make wrong decisions but, bounce back from them.