Pro football player Michael Vick has spent much of the past month on an apologetic media blitz. The latest apology by Vick was a post he submitted on Russell Simmons’ hip-hop community site Global Grind. His full entry is below. I’ve put phrases in bold that reflect the first occurrence of each of our five languages of apology:
“I’m sorry. That’s the place where I need to begin. My feeling of remorse. I ain’t never written a blog before, so putting my thoughts down on paper is a challenge – however it’s a challenge I must face. I can look a 250 pound linebacker in his eyes at the line of scrimmage and have no fear. But expressing myself when I know that there are millions of people who are so angry with me, and rightfully so, is a challenge unlike any other I have faced before.
“What I did was horrendous. Awful. Inhumane. And I’ve no excuses for my actions. It makes my heart hurt now to think about what I’ve done. And I’m gonna be real honest, it took a while for me to get to this place.”
“Sitting in a prison cell didn’t make me feel remorse. It was meeting so many animal lovers, speaking with them and looking them in their eyes. Staring at them. Looking so deep into their eyes that I began to feel their pain. Allowing that pain to enter into my body is when I started to understand how bad it really was. I have been trying hard to connect with people who feel this pain,because for my whole life I was disconnected from the suffering of animals. And you might say, “come on Mike, how could you do those things to those dogs?” And you’re right…I ask myself those questions every day. What kind of person does this? How does a human-being treat dogs or any animal with such pain and cruelty? And the hard part for me is the answer to these questions. Because the answer is ME. And I am trying so hard right now to become a better person, because who I was, I am ashamed of.
“Cause see, my whole life has been numb. I was numb to the violence in my community…cause I saw it all the time, ever since I was a child. I mean, how does one grow up in a city that’s nickname is Bad Newz? You can probably guess that from the jump, ya’ know I’ve seen some bad things in my life. And football was the only way that I could escape. As a kid, I even used to go out fishing, and most of the times I wouldn’t catch a darn thing, but just needed to get away from the chaos every once in a while. So, when the commissioner called my name as the #1 draft pick in the NFL – the first time a black quarterback had ever been chosen as the #1 pick, I thought my life was all good. But, what I didn’t realize then, that I have begun to realize now, is that even though I had more money in my pocket, big cars and big houses, I was still numb. And when I say numb, I ain’t talkin about not realizing the stuff that was going on around me, it was just like I was living life asleep. However, that is still no excuse for what I did. But let’s not forget that there are still hundreds of thousands of young people growing in similar environments and seeing violence at a young age has severe consequences.
“Now that I’m trying my best to wake up, I know I have a lot of work to do. And this isn’t about trying to win a Super Bowl ring or a MVP trophy…this is about trying to save lives. I think back to when I use to play football and of course I use to see all those kids in the stands wearing #7 jerseys. And I would never want them to look up to the Michael Vick who did all of those terrible things to the dogs. I know where I need to do the most work is with all of the people around the world who continue to fight dogs. Let me be straight forward with y’all: What I did was wrong, and what you’re doing is wrong. We must stop dog fighting, and I will do everything in my power to be a voice of someone who has finally woken up from the numbness, and knows just how bad it really is. My mission now is to be a source of service to save many animals. I am working very closely with The Humane Society and will be launching a new campaign shortly. If I had one hope in life, it would be that my actions will speak louder than my words. I know it will be hard to forgive me until you see my sincerity through my actions, but I promise you and I promise myself that that day will come.
“Lastly, I accept this challenge, not of writing this blog, but of redeeming myself.”
Dr. Jen’s Analysis: Michael Vick covered many of the factors that convey sincerity in an apology. While he stopped short of requesting forgiveness, he gets credit for addressing his offenses and for recognizing that it will be hard for others to forgive him for his actions. Vick’s discussion of the violence in his ‘hood runs the risk of sounding like he’s making excuses for his cruelty. However, I think he navigated those waters safely and I think that this apology is one of his best.
What do you think?