It's troubling to think about Michael Vick being released from jail, leaving Leavenworth in late May to finish his 23-month prison term under house arrest.
His crimes were more than troubling. They were heinous and they were sick. A good way to determine what a man is worth is to watch him treat those who can't fight back. The dogs at BadNewz Kennels were great at ripping up each other but they couldn't defend themselves against Vick, and they paid.
As repugnant as Vick's crimes are, however, he has been punished. He was sentenced in December of 2007. He declared bankruptcy. His endorsements dried up. His former team found a new star quarterback. Since the Atlanta Falcons can't trade Vick -- who would assume that contract? -- they'll cut him.
Even if he is cleared to play in 2009, the team that acquires him will have to deal with a rusty quarterback that might never play the position again, at least not as anything more than a gimmick. They'll also have to deal with PETA and dog-lovers everywhere, although PETA's heavy-handed tactics could create sympathy for Vick.
What Vick did is contemptible, and you don't have to love or understand dogs to appreciate that. But if there is any worth to our criminal justice system, you have to believe that a man can come out with different beliefs than those he brought in.
Once Vick has fulfilled his obligations, he's entitled to another chance.