Beamer says Vick has 'paid his debt'

Michael Vick

Part of Michael Vick's second chapter in the National Football League will include Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The former Atlanta Falcons star quarterback has financial hurdles almost as steep as his image reconstruction challenge.

Don't feel sorry for the guy. Dog fighting is a repulsive addiction and a crime difficult to compare to other transgressions.

"It was awful what he did," said Shane Beamer, Vick's former Virginia Tech teammate and presently Steve Spurrier's recruiting coordinator at South Carolina. "I read all about it. It made me absolutely sick. He deserved to go to prison."

But forgive Michael Vick, even if you don't tie a yellow ribbon 'round your favorite old oak tree. Still only 28, he deserves another NFL chance.

"Absolutely," Beamer said. "I think he's paid his debt. He made a big mistake and I am not condoning it. It was terrible. But he has accepted his punishment and he has served his time. As long as he is remorseful, which I think he has been and will be, he definitely deserves a second chance."

Post-Leavenworth

Beamer, 32, played with Vick for two seasons at Virginia Tech. The head coach was Shane's father, Frank Beamer, still in charge in Blacksburg, Va.

So maybe there is a Hokie bias.

But, if it would please the court, an objective football fan with as much sense as a goal post or my cousin Vinny would probably agree with these three facts:

--Vick hardly is the worst person in a world of professional sports including woman beaters, killer drunk drivers and drug abusers.

--Yet "live from Leavenworth" and other Vick coverage makes you think Al Capone just asked for an NFL owner application.

--Vick probably still has NFL- worthy skills.

The Feds let him out of prison in Kansas on Wednesday. Probably not taking the scenic route or browsing too long at The Cracker Barrel, the Vick traveling party departed by automobile for his home in Virginia, where he will complete a 23-month sentence.

Vick is scheduled for release on July 20, roughly coinciding with the opening of NFL training camps.

Change of pace

The Falcons — Matt Ryan's team — don't want Vick or need him.

But he will make a nice second or third quarterback for a team with a young starter; Vick probably will warm to the role of a playoff-savvy tutor able to come off the bench and manage an offense.

Jets? Lions? Ravens? Browns?

Or maybe he is the ideal change-of-pace quarterback in red-zone situations for a team with a conventional drop-back starter.

Saints? Bears? Chargers? Cowboys? Panthers?

Vick already has met with members of the Humane Society.

The man who once signed a $130 million deal with the Falcons and was the toast of Atlanta soon will start working a $10-an-hour construction job under a hot Virginia sun.

Blessed are the humble.

"I'm optimistic," said Beamer, who was born in Charleston when his father was an assistant coach at The Citadel. "I hope he makes it back and, if he does, it will be a great story about somebody who loses millions of dollars, loses all the adoration he had from fans and who makes a positive contribution."

Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or gsapakoff@postandcourier.com.