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Commentary: Let Michael Vick play football

  • Story Highlights
  • Roland Martin: By July, Michael Vick will have finished his 23-month sentence
  • He says some argue Vick shouldn't be allowed to play due to severity of his crime
  • He says the crime isn't connected to his career as a football player
  • Martin: We have to allow people who have served time to work productively
By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor
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Editor's note: A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland S. Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information. He is host of "No Bias, No Bull" at 8 p.m. ET on CNN while Campbell Brown is on maternity leave.

Roland Martin says Michael Vick has served his sentence and should be allowed back on the field.

Roland Martin says Michael Vick has served his sentence and should be allowed back on the field.

(CNN) -- When Michael Vick completes home confinement in July, he will have served the 23-month prison sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges.

After his release from a Kansas prison Wednesday, he headed to his home in Virginia to serve the final two months under home confinement, because all the beds at halfway houses in the area are taken.

But that hasn't deterred the Vick haters who are still in an uproar over the heinous details of his dogfighting kennel. Yes, reading the details of the treatment of the dogs, including the killing of some of them, could make anyone sick. Yet what's the point of sentencing someone to jail, then having them serve their time and be released if we still want to imprison them for the rest of their lives?

Frankly, I'm sick of Americans who talk all day about "do the crime, then do the time," then still want to treat a man like a criminal when he gets out of prison.

This doesn't just apply to Michael Vick. Look at all the individuals who are sent to prison, get out and then can't find a job. Why? Because they have the Scarlet Letter on their record, which is a big fat "F" for felon. Don't think I'm looking for any sympathy for someone who goes to jail. I firmly believe that you deserve all that you get for breaking the law. But listening to some of these zealots go on and on and on about Vick needing to continue to be punished is ridiculous!

The judge in Vick's case has imposed a number of restrictions. One of them is that he can't ever own a dog again. OK, gotcha. But to say the man shouldn't be allowed to play in the NFL is D-U-M-B. The crimes of which he was convicted had nothing to do with playing sports.

Remember Wall Street star Michael Milken? When he was sent to jail for securities fraud, he was banned from working on Wall Street again. I get that. He was an insider and allowing him back into the financial game would have been atrocious.

I get it when someone is convicted of molesting children that they can't live within a certain distance of a school or be left alone around children when released. But there is nothing related to Vick's crime that says he should not be allowed to play professional football.

What is particularly galling is that, right now, you have any number of football players who have beaten people -- including their wives and girlfriends -- served time for drunk driving or committed other crimes, yet they have resumed their careers. The same goes for teachers, radio and television broadcasters, politicians and others.

So is this any different because it involved dogs? Are we to say that the horrible treatment of dogs is vastly different than mistreatment of human beings? The critics will likely say, "These men are role models. Kids look up to them. They should have no business on the field." Yet some of these same kids are living with fathers and mothers who are felons. So are we supposed to remove them from the home as well?

Enough with the public bullying. Vick was sentenced and served his time. And now he's gotten out. If you want to be angry with him, fine. But please, cut the sanctimonious crap. He deserves to make amends and get on with his life. If you were in his shoes, you would want to do the same.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

All About Michael VickAnimal CrueltyNational Football League

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