You might think that given the backlash Fox Sports received for hiring Michael Vick last week, that network executives might have become squeamish. Perhaps, even second guessing their decision to bring on the controversial former four-time Pro Bowler.
Well, think again.
In an interview with USA Today Sports, Fox Sports President Eric Shanks defended the decision to hire Vick: “We absolutely and completely understand,” Shanks told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s not a different reaction than what we had prepared ourselves for internally at Fox Sports. We discuss it. We talk about what happened then. What type of person is Mike is now? What debt has he paid to society? We still believe it’s the right thing to do.”
Vick’s NFL career got derailed in 2007, after being found guilty of running an illegal dog fighting ring on his property in Virginia. Vick served 18 months in prison for the offense. After his release from prison in 2009, Vick re-joined the NFL by signing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Clearly, we knew that there was potential to be a reaction,” Shanks told USA Today Sports. “We spent a lot of time with Mike. We looked at his experience playing in the league after he paid his debt to society.
“We looked at his interaction and support he’s gotten from people like Andy Reid at the Chiefs and (former NFL coach) Tony Dungy. Over the last 10 or 11 years, not only has he paid his debt to society, but he’s done everything a person who has made a terrible mistake like that can do. We felt it was the right person at the right time for us.”
Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson, a new member of the CBS’ The NFL Today pregame show, thinks that Vick has earned his opportunity.
“If you don’t like Michael Vick, fine,” Burleson said. “If you don’t want to watch Michael Vick, fine. But if you’re asking him to pay after he spent time in prison for a crime, then how much more work does he have to do? Does he have to pay for it the rest of his life?
“Football parallels society… Society says, when somebody commits a crime, they go to jail and once they get out, they have served their time. I have a problem with people who have a problem with Vick having a job.”