This started as a comment on FB, but I figured I'd post it here. I've been thinking about this for about a week--what Michael Vick needs to do to "prove his remorse." (I assumed that this is what spurred Cody Lumpkins' FB post--remembering him to be a Falcons fan). My idea is that all he needs to do is offer a short Public Service Announcement, something like this:
"Dear America, I am truly sorry for the suffering I caused each and every animal. I have had two years in prison to reflect on the seriousness of my crimes. I hope that this message will help convince young people out there to stay away from the heinousness of dog fighting. While I ask for your forgiveness, I urge that none of us forget this incident--that it serves to help end animal cruelty."
That's all he has to say. Then, he has to do some more PSA's and donate some time to animal cruelty. In fact, Cody, I think the question becomes "how CAN'T one show remorse"--for the answer to that question, see PacMan Jones. Everyone who matters in football is ready to give this guy a second chance--Goodell, Arthur Blank, Tony Dungy (who's words probably carry the most weight).
I think his rhetorical situation needs to be informed by the failures of A-Rod's steroids apology. Beyond the fact that A-Rod lied (d'oh for thinking that the American baseball media wouldn't look into the story of someone they already despise--they/we only ignore the facts when they/we like someone), he transfered blame to a "something" other than himself. In A-Rod's case, it was "youth." "Young and stupid." Well, at least one of those were true.
Vick could go the same route, and talk about "culture"--being brought up in a culture that values dog fighting. Were I defending him (postmodernist that I am), this is the route I would go--that the outrage against Vick is a bit excessive if viewed across the access of cultural difference. We can certainly still identify it as wrong, but hopefully such an identification would come with less venom if we undermine the absolute "natural" foundation for such an indentification. A few players tried to go the "culturally relative" route, by noting that there's not much difference between dog fighting and hunting, and they were publicly lambasted. And while I agree that there is a difference between dog fighting and hunting, I would say that its not that big a difference.... BUT
This is not the rhetorical route for Vick to go. Because I believe that many people do not care about dog fighting to the degree the media would have us believe. The truly, picket-carrying outraged are out there--and they will reject Vick no matter what. But I think the majority of the public audience would be willing to give Vick a chance so long as his remorse seems heartfelt (pathos) and as long as he "owns" his misdeed (instead of projecting the wrong-doing onto an era in sports, the stupidity of youth, his brother's pharmacist, etc.). I believe Vick deserves a second chance--and I believe all the rhetorical markers are in place for him to actually get one. What remains to be seen is whether or not he will waste it.