When do you forgive?

I went HAM after reading the feedback to Nike’s announcement that they will re-sign Philadelphia Eagles QB Mike Vick for an as yet undisclosed amount. Of its controversial decision, Nike says, “Michael acknowledges his past mistakes. We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself on and off the field.” For his part, Vick’s been quiet. But that hasn’t stopped a well-organized campaign/boycott from gearing up against Nike and Vick.
“He is not rehabilitated. He is a murderer and always will be. Nike should be ashamed to even have considered this!” one of you
wrote in response to a “Most Popular” post about Vick on Essence.com. Of Nike, one of you said, “he doesn’t deserve a second chance — what he did is unforgivable and until Nike says NO to Vick I will be saying No to Nike!” And to you, and everyone else crying about Vick, I say, are you kidding me?
Like Nike, I don’t condone Vick’s brutal actions, which he was convicted of in 2007. He paid a supremely high price for his recklessness. He lost all of his endorsements, his job as a well-paid quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons (he even had to return most of his $37 million signing bonus), and served nearly 2 years in prison. He was forced to file bankruptcy in 2008.
When he was finally released from prison, he landed in Philadelphia. In the two years since, he’s worked with the Humane Society and apologized, admitting his guilt. “I’m sorry. That’s the place where I need to begin,” he wrote in an open letter in 2009. “What I did was horrendous. Awful. Inhumane…I am trying so hard to be a better person, because who I was, I am ashamed of.”
Save for the BET reality show in 2010, Vick’s kept a low profile, and he’s stayed out of additional trouble. All his actions point to a changed man, or at the very least one who has enough sense to not to harm or kill anymore animals. So I’m confused by the massive public outcry against Vick and Nike. As of yesterday, a Facebook campaign calling for a boycott of Nike had 4,000 likes.
I don’t get it. Vick has said, “I’m sorry” more times than more than Tracey Morgan, Chris Brown, and Kanye West combined. He did a bid, he lost everything. What more punishment does he honestly deserve?
I have to say “miss me!” to anyone who is still complaining four years later about what Vick did to some dogs. There are popular entertainers who have abused women and girls and have been given a pass sooner and garnered more understanding from the beginning. Some of us have even defended men like Chris Brown, R. Kelly, and Mike Tyson and gone on to support those men’s projects with their hard earned dollars. Now, I love Lassie as much as the next woman, but on the hierarchy of importance, humans— women!— trump our four-legged friends. If you didn’t stand up for Robin Givens, Rihanna, and whoever that lil’ girl was that Kellz urinated on, then you need to go sit down instead of complaining about Nike and Mike Vick.
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: Your Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter: @abelleinbk