Why do people keep coming back to comeback stories?

Because those sagas inspire this reassuring reminder: Being down isn't being out.

Or as Andy Reid put it Tuesday: "This is really what America is all about -- a second chance."

The Philadelphia Eagles coach invoked that national pride while hailing the second-chance triumph of his quarterback, Michael Vick.

The occasion was the announcement of Vick's new six-year, $100 million contract with the Eagles. That makes the former Virginia Tech Hokie and Atlanta Falcon the first football player to sign two $100 million contracts -- though in the National Football League, unlike the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, not all of that money is guaranteed.

Still, roughly $35.5 million of it is.

But before joining the pep rally for this "second chance" that is "really what America is all about," keep in mind who never got a second chance because of Vick.

From the 18-page federal indictment against Vick and his co-defendants for rampant violations of law -- and human decency -- at their "Bad Newz Kennels," a Vick-owned base of dogfighting operations in Surry County, Va.:

"In or about April of 2007, [Purnell] Peace, [Quanis] Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

OK, so virtually all of us have done something -- or multiple things -- that were terribly wrong.

OK, so Vick has made all the right moves since doing 21 months for his crimes. He appears remorseful. He has helped the Humane Society of the United States push for a federal law against attending organized animal fights -- already illegal in 49 states, including this one. The congressional proposal would add penalties for adults who bring minors to such barbaric spectacles.

Vick at a Capitol Hill news conference in July: "Too many kids get involved in dogfighting, and it's time to break this cycle."

Maybe Vick's really sorry for what he did and not just for getting caught.

Closer to home, David Tant has also apologized -- and has also gotten out of prison. He was released after serving six years of a 30-year sentence for 41 counts of dogfighting and one count of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

In that real-life horror show, a land surveyor who unintentionally strayed onto Tant's 11-acre Rantowles property in 2004 was wounded by a booby-trapped shotgun. The authorities then discovered and seized 47 pit bulls and lots of grisly dogfighting equipment -- including caged treadmills, cattle prods and a bear trap. All 47 dogs ultimately had to be put down.

The S.C. parole board, turning down animal advocates' pleas for keeping Tant behind bars, turned him loose last year.

Yes, Tant deserved a serious stretch.

Hey, he served one.

So, to a lesser degree, did Vick.

And Vick's far from the first fallen-star athlete -- pro and amateur -- to get more than one chance.

College fans, including some in our state, bicker about which schools are overly tolerant of "student-athlete" misconduct.

Sports quiz: Which coaches cut their players -- well, at least their top players -- too much off-field slack?

Correct answer: All of them.

Obvious reason: Coaches' job security hinges on the scoreboard.

Now coming back to "Comeback Kid" Vick: Despite his time served, contrition displayed and dazzling scrambling performed, we dog lovers won't forget what he did. We know that anybody who so viciously abuses "Man's Best Friend" is a sorry excuse for a man -- or a woman.

So lest you fellow Fido fans growl too bitterly at how little time Vick did and how much money he's making, remember, he still hasn't made it to his first Super Bowl.

And he still must serve an evil-aura sentence that no parole board can shorten.

Because when it comes to karmic consequences, Vick will never escape the bad vibes of his Bad Newz Kennels.

Frank Wooten is associate editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.