In a Thursday interview with Dan Patrick, former Buccaneers and Colts coach Tony Dungy confirmed that he’ll soon be visiting imprisoned Falcons quarterback Mike Vick.
Dungy was reluctant to identify the date of the visit or the person(s) who arranged it, but he seemed to imply in response to a question from Patrick that the meeting was instigated by Vick’s camp.
Dungy said that he’ll talk to Vick about “life and the Lord,” and the challenges Vick will face once he’s released from federal custody.
“I’ll talk to him like he’s my son,” Dungy said.
Though Dungy didn’t take a position on whether Vick should be reinstated, the body of his remarks suggests to us that he thinks Vick should get a second chance.
For example, Dungy doesn’t seem to agree with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s position that Vick needs to show “genuine remorse” for his behavior.
“I’m sure he’s remorseful,” Dungy said. “I don’t know that that’s gotta be the standard.”
Dungy also said that he’d sign Vick if based on looking in his eyes and divining what’s in his heart Dungy concludes that he’s worthy of another chance. And Dungy explained that a team shouldn’t give Vick another opportunity because of his skills, but because “it’s the right thing to do.”
Dungy said that he did just that with kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who publicly slammed Dungy and quarterback Peyton Manning. Dungy met with Vanderjagt, and decided to keep him around.
We agreed with most of what Dungy said about Vick, and we think that if Dungy’s involvement is something that Vick’s camp arranged, it’s a stroke of genius. Dungy is one of the most influential voices in the sport, and if Dungy is using his voice to support Vick, his chances of getting back in are improved.
That said, we must take issue with the portion of the segment during which Dungy seemed to not understand the difference between guys like Leonard Little, who took the life of a human being while driving drunk, and the fighting of dogs, the gambling ring surrounding it, and the killing of dogs deemed unfit to die in the pit.
Here’s how we explained the difference on March 28:
“Little (and possibly [Donte’] Stallworth) engaged in criminally reckless actions. They didn’t intend to harm anyone. Little’s crime (and possibly Stallworth’s) was to drink to excess under circumstances that did not prevent him from exercising impaired judgment by getting behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound sculpted block of rolling steel.
“Vick intentionally, deliberately, and soberly embarked on a hobby that violated multiple federal and state laws, and that was premised on the cold-blooded torture and killing of dogs.
“And then he lied about his conduct, to anyone who wanted to know the truth. He even tried to deceive about the killing of underperforming dogs after pleading guilty, and while strapped to a polygraph.”
Those remarks came in response to comments from Bears coach Lovie Smith, who has said he supports Vick’s reinstatement. Given the long-time friendship between Smith and Dungy, it’s hardly a stretch to conclude that, in time, Dungy will be officially taking the same position.
Then again, if Dungy emerges from his visit with Vick and says “no comment,” the fair inference is that he looked into Vick’s eyes and saw that his only regret is that he got caught.
Hopefully, Dungy will keep his mind — and his eyes — open for precisely such an observation.