Second Chances – Michael Vick to Ted Williams – What a Difference a Week Makes!

January 8, 2011

At the end of 2010 President Obama congratulated the Eagles for giving Michael Vick a “Second Chance” and a media fire storm erupted.  Guess 2010 went out with a bang!  Then the first week of 2011 Ted Williams “golden voice” was discovered and “Second Chance” offers poured in.  What a difference a week makes!

Living in the light of a SECOND CHANCE – I have to honestly say, I was a bit discouraged by the response from the country related to President Obama’s statements about Vick.  Of course, Tucker Carlson’s (from FOX) opinion was shared far and wide that Vick should have been executed.  That’s absurd.  Yet, most of the comments seemed to have a common thread like this comment: “Perhaps the President should praise the many who have committed crimes, chosen to turn their lives around, and still live in poverty.”  It seemed that while folks were warm to the idea of a “Second Chance” there was a underlying feeling that success should allude those who have done wrong.  And, well, Michael Vick’s return to success so soon seemed to be a bit much for folks to swallow.

REALITY CHECK!

Second Chances don’t come easy – don’t come without a great deal of pain – and don’t typically come quick.  Reality is – “Second Chances” generally come – if they are even recognized – after life cleansing experiences that prepare the person for a new way to experience life.  And so seems the story of Ted Williams.   SEE THE VIDEO HERE!

The Ted Williams story – going from homeless to viral media sensation, like Michael Vick in many ways, is unusual.  Doral Chenoweth, a web producer for the Columbus Dispatch is the one who filmed the video that for Ted Williams was life changing.  But the story didn’t just happen the first week of 2011, rather, it was a series of mishaps that turned into the choice that made it happen for Mr. Williams.

According to an article by Jeff Labrecque – this story was almost a non-story.  It was ONE CHOICE that made a big difference.  And before sharing the story, think about those few words above.  It is true – ONE CHOICE – is all it takes to turn your life around or find the power of SECOND CHANCES!  Labrecque’s story reads in part as follows:

He’d (Chenoweth) first encountered Williams, his cardboard sign, and his baritone pipes a few weeks before that when he and his wife were driving past on their way to the store. “He just let loose with that velvety, old-school voice,” Chenoweth tells EW. “We had a good time, but you know, life goes on. The light turns green. I threw him a dollar and off we went.”

About a week later, though, Chenoweth, who’s worked for Dispatch for 20 years and calls himself a modern-day backpack journalist, endured a slow news day and needed something — anything — to shoot. He found Williams at the same corner, and this time when he said, ‘Say something with that great radio voice,” he had his FlipCam rolling. “It was so touching,” recalls Chenoweth. “I thought it was sweet.”

But Chenoweth had no clue he had gold. He felt the video’s ending was awkward and the clip ran a little too long. So he sat on the footage for weeks. Then, on Monday, when he needed something fresh, he dug up the video on his computer and popped in on to the paper’s website. And… nothing special. “It kind of did an average number of hits for a video on our website on a Monday,” says Chenoweth. “But Tuesday, some guy from Ohio State calls me out of the blue and says, ‘Your video is about to go viral.’ By Tuesday night, it was skyrocketing. And Wednesday was just a media frenzy.”

Chenoweth has spent the last few days witnessing Williams’ surreal ride from homelessness to mega-stardom. “It’s probably easier getting through to Obama [now] than Ted,” he jokes, adding that Williams is handling the transformation “like you might expect. He’s kind of excited, frazzled, but sharp all at the same time.”

About to fly home after a whirlwind trip to New York City, Chenoweth was reflective, hopeful for Williams, and still amazed by the events. “Maybe if I had released the video the week before Christmas, it never would’ve gained any traction in the national media,” he points out. “God’s in control of everything and God’s in control of this video. Ted’s got a real good outlook on it and so do I.”

I like what Chenoweth said, “God’s in control of everything and God’s in control of this video.”  Perhaps those words are worth reflecting on.  For those of us who believe in God – and I do – I agree 100% God is in control of everything.  While I have “free will” to make some stupid choices – and I did – God was in control, knowing that I, like everyone, had to experience the consequences that were perfect for me.  Likewise, “Second Chances” don’t come just because, they or the opportunities for them appear when we are ready to make life changing choices.

I welcome Ted Williams unique opportunity for his “Second Chance” and know that his story has inspired many.  Perhaps as we move from 2010 into 2011 – from one decade into another – we will find a spirit of hope and a knowing that when we make the right choices we, too, can find our “Second Chance”!

YOUR COMMENTS WELCOME!

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My path of choices which produced some “negative consequences” and powerful “positive results” is chronicled in my new book – SECOND CHANCES: Transforming Adversity into Opportunity.    If you’d like to read some excerpts click here.  Otherwise, if you’d like to know how to gain your “Second Chance” I, with humility say, I think my book will provide some needed insight into how you can transform your life and choices into opportunity and success.


Second Chances? Barack Obama to Michael Vick – Have We become a Compassionless Country?

December 30, 2010

Well, for a guy who believes in Second Chances (hence the title of my new book – Second Chances) I was shocked and saddened at the media storm or fire related to Barack Obama’s comments praising giving folks – namely Michael Vick – a “Second Chance.”  As a nation have we become so full of hate and intolerance that we no longer can tolerate the idea that “Second Chances” are worth aspiring toward?

So this past Monday the following was reported by the Washington Post – quoted here:

On Monday, the buzz was about how the president had weighed in on the redemption of Michael Vick. Obama phoned the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles to praise the team for giving a second chance to the quarterback, who is again a National Football League star 19 months after leaving prison for his role in a horrific dogfighting ring that killed pit bulls by electrocution, hanging and drowning.

The president has not spoken publicly about the call, though aides acknowledged that it took place. But Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports that during their conversation Obama was passionate about Vick’s comeback.

“He said, ‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,’ ” said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. “He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”

While I may not agree with a great deal of what the President says – in this case he’s right!  Rarely do those who serve time get a “fair second chance!”  But AND THIS IS IMPORTANT – “Second Chances” are not just about those who have committed crimes and done their time.  Obama’s comment that “we did something on such a national state that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall” is really at the heart of the matter.

But, with such compassion stated by our President – the firestorm begins.

So what’s the fallout of suggesting that it is good to give folks a “Second Chance” – enter FOX News broadcaster Tucker Carlson, who said: “Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way. I think, firstly, he should have been executed for that. The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale.”

WOW – TALKING ABOUT FROM LEFT FIELD (oops I should have said “Right” field for FOX)

Stop!  Media extremism is in play here.  Let’s get the ratings and buzz huh Tucker?  Dumbass statement that Vick should be executed is nothing more than an UNETHICAL PLOY to sensationalize a true heart-felt comment by Obama.  Have we come to be so angry and so hard-hearted that we will take the opposite opinion of anyone who does not share our ideological belief.  Wonder if Obama had said that he felt Vick should be banished to a desert island never to return to the US – would Tucker have then found it in his heart to give Vick a “Second Chance”?  Is it about coverage and opposites – winning or losing – black or white?  Have we fallen that low as a country?

What about “Second Chances” in other areas – love, being a father, recovery from cancer – Is the concept of getting a “Second Chance” becoming foreign to Americans?  Or is it the media that finds that NO SECOND CHANCES make for better ratings?  If it were his child that needed a “Second Chance” I think Tucker’s words would ring hypocritical this week!  Tucker what about it?  Care to comment?

BUT TUCKER’S NOT THE ONLY ONE…!

Reported in the LA Times –

But Bill Smith, the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in the Philadelphia area, bristled at Obama’s characterization that the Eagles’ signing of Vick was motivated by wanting to give a convicted felon a second chance.

“If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” said Smith, who organized a campaign last season to collect food for animal shelters every time Vick was sacked on the field. “This isn’t about giving anyone a second chance; it’s about who can make the Eagles organization more money.”

Now I’m an animal lover, but the jaded view that it is only about money just doesn’t hold water.  Obama’s point was that Vick is a national figure and that showing compassion and providing a “Second Chance” is something worthwhile.  Vick isn’t the only one who’s been giving a “Second Chance” in life, but he is public.  I wonder if Bill Smith’s grandson (just an example) had been imprisoned for selling drugs and released, would he be in favor of him receiving a “Second Chance”?  Seems to me that for Bill it’s about his passion for animals that his view is so jaded?  Maybe I’m wrong.  Perhaps Bill will comment!

By the way, Bill did a great job making Obama’s point.  “If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” is exactly the point, we need someone as a model of what a “Second Chance” could mean and from personal experience, there are far too few people who will stand up and offer a “Second Chance”.  That’s sad!

WHERE FROM HERE?

First, I’ve been to prison for crimes I committed.  I am not proud of that, but it is a very real fact of my life.  It has been nearly 15 years since my release and yes, I have been given a “SECOND CHANCE”!  For that I am deeply grateful each day of my life.  Here’s an excerpt from my new book “Second Chances” that describes the night it became clear that my crimes were discovered and I had to face the truth that I was (at that time) nothing more than a liar and a thief.  It was the darkest night of my soul…

That night was the darkest night of my soul. That call that I shared didn’t make it better. It didn’t eliminate the consequences. It didn’t remove the pain. Rather, it gave me hope, hope that if I could make poor choices that would, most certainly, bring painful consequences, I also possessed the power to make positive choices with positive results.  His comment to me still resounds in my heart today. He said, “You have made a terrible mistake, but YOU are not a mistake! The choices you make moving forward will define your life forever and provide the foundation for your children’s lives. Think carefully as you make this choice!” 

When he said to me, “YOU are not a mistake,” it hit me─while the past cannot be changed, the life we are given and the choices we make moving forward are the only things that count. I felt a burden lifted. I could not change the past; all I could do was face the consequences. It was within my power to make good choices, now and in the future, that would produce a fruitful outcome. That was my destiny!

Do I believe in “SECOND CHANCES” – absolutely otherwise I would not be here and I AM here for a reason!  Perhaps that is the message that Tucker Carlson and others need to get!  We all, at some point in time, need a “Second Chance”!
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

Michael Vick Stuck in Leavenworth – Virginia Courts Not Cooperating!

October 30, 2008

Serving a two-year term since admitting he bankrolled a dogfighting operation and helped execute dogs, Michael Vick received a setback in his effort to gain a conclusion to his legal woes.

Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick won’t be allowed to plead guilty to dogfighting charges by videoconference.  His attorney’s made the request to allow him to enter his plea on Nov. 25. Under the terms of his plea deal, he would receive only a suspended sentence and a year of probation. If he is able to resolve the state dogfighting and animal cruelty charges, he would be eligible to transfer to a halfway house for the final six months of his term, according to court papers., a judge ruled Tuesday.

However, citing high public interest in the case, Surry County Circuit Judge Samuel Campbell said it would be better for Vick to appear in person.

Needless to say, to appear in person while incarcerated at Leavenworth is quite impossible.  While Vick would like to get this behind him…his primary motivation would be the ability to move to the half-way house.  FYI – transfer to a half-way house is still prison (just much less confined).

His obstacle…public attention and a justice system that is pushing the maximum punishment.  According to an Associated Press Article:

Prosecutor Gerald Poindexter preferred that Vick’s plea wait until his release from federal prison. He objected to the video conferencing motion on grounds that it has never been used in Virginia and he didn’t want the county to set a precedent.

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal:

“This has been a long and very difficult road for Michael,” Martin said. “He has been incarcerated for over a year and hopes to bring closure to this case.”

The motion is an attempt by Vick’s attorneys to bring closure to the state case.

“We are very happy with the judge’s ruling,” Woodward said. “For my standpoint, the fact that we are going to have the hearing and the case is going to be resolved within the next few weeks is a good result for Michael and will help him get where he needs to be.”

If Vick, who is scheduled to be released from federal prison July 20, 2009, can resolve his state case, he would become eligible to participate in the Federal Bureau of Prisons re-entry program. That might include entry into a halfway house for up to six months. Vick cannot serve a portion of his sentence in a halfway house until he has resolved the pending state charges.

“We were fine with [pleading] by video or personally,” Woodward said. “We just wanted to get it done so that he can apply to be in the halfway house.”

Woodward declined to elaborate on Vick entering a halfway house.

“It’s a process and that process is ongoing,” Woodward said. “I don’t want to comment on that. Obviously, he needed to get this case resolved in order for that process to move forward.”

As an ex-felon…I know first hand what Michael Vick has been through.  I am sure that he does want this behind him.  Hopefully, he will use his notoriety and experience to have a positive influence on the youth of America.  As a speaker, I address youth across the country to help them understand the relationship between choices and their consequences.


Michael Vick – Keep The $20 Million Says The Judge!

February 4, 2008

Michael Vick

Michael Vick must be sleeping a bit better now that a federal judge ruled that Vick can keep the nearly $20 million bonus he received from the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons sought to recover the bonuses after Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges in a dogfighting operation. The bonuses were paid from 2004 to 2007.

A special master ruled in October that the Falcons were entitled to recover the bonuses. The Falcons argued that Vick used proceeds from a contract he signed in 2004 to finance his illicit activities. But U.S. District Judge David Doty of Minneapolis ruled that the Falcons’ recovering the bonus money would violate the NFL collective bargaining agreement. The agreement does not allow signing bonuses to be forfeited for years a player has already performed.

Sentenced to 23 months in federal prison, Vick entered a minimum-security prison in Leavenworth, Kansas this past month.

Considering that Every Choice Has A Consequence, Vick is beginning to see the opposite side of that comment. Consequences are not necessarily bad – the are just consequences. Vick is suffering today as a result of the choices he made. However, he has the capacity to turn his life lessons into good for the people who would look up to him – perhaps that is beginning now as he sees a positive event or decision fall his way.

As a teen ethics speaker (www.chuckgallagher.com) and founder of the Choices Foundation, I hope that Vick learns from his incarceration and leaves prison a changed man.


Business Ethics Speaker – Chuck Gallagher states – Michael Vick Facing Longer Prison Sentence

November 30, 2007

Texas Motivational Speaker, Chuck Gallagher 

Many thought that Michael Vick would be sentenced to a year and a day for his conviction on “dog fighting.”   Some had said that he threw his career to the “dog” as it were, but with a short sentence and voluntarily surrending and starting the sentence now, it was thought that Michael might just be back in the game for the ’08 year. 

Not so fast. today two of Michael Vick’s co-defendants in the federal dog-fighting case received sentences at the high end of the Sentencing Guidelines range.  Now there is some thought that Vick might face a longer prison term at his sentencing in December. 

According to the Associated Press, “A federal judge made clear his disdain for animal cruelty when he sentenced two of Michael Vick‘s dogfighting cohorts to 18 months and 21 months in prison Friday.

“You may have thought this was sporting, but it was very callous and cruel,” Judge Henry Hudson told Quanis Phillips of Atlanta, who received the longer sentence.

The prison terms for Phillips and Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach are a little longer than prosecutors recommended, but less than the five-year maximum Hudson could have imposed.

Vick still could get a sentence above the negotiated range in his case — a year to 18 months — if (Judge) Hudson concludes 27-year-old Vick is more culpable than the others because he admitting bankrolling the operation and providing gambling money.

According to court papers, Vick not only financed the “Bad Newz Kennels” but also participated in executing several underperforming dogs by drowning, hanging and other means. “

Should Vick be sentenced to the mid to upper range of the sentencing guidelines, he would be out for at least half of the ’08 NFL season. 

Every choice has a consequence! 

My guess is Michael Vick would have never considered this as a result of his actions.  Frankly, neither did I expect the consequences I received.  My misdeeds were illegal and I deserved the punishment I received.  But, during the time of the illegal actions, I never expected prison.

Hopefully, Vick will use his influence to help others so that they don’t face the consequences that he is facing today.  Holidays behind bars are no fun.

 As always, your comments are welcome.

 Business Ethics Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…


Throwing Assets to the Dogs! – Michael Vick’s Continued Consequences

November 21, 2007

According to CNN – “In a motion filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson noted that Vick, in his plea agreement, agreed to pay “restitution for the full amount of the costs associated with the disposition of all dogs” in the case.”

Today the government asked a federal court to hold a portion of Michael Vick’s assets valued at more than $900,000 to be used to pay for the care and/or disposition of the 54 dogs found on Vick’s property when he was busted last spring.

For a full report of the CNN story see http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/20/vick.dogs/index.html

Again, according to CNN, “Vick agreed that those costs could include “the long-term care and/or the humane euthanasia of some or all of those animals,” which were seized from the “Bad Newz Kennels” on his property in Surry County, Virginia.”

As an Ethics Speaker, I routinely speak to groups about Choices and Consequences. Every choice has a consequence. I, like Michael Vick, have enjoyed the benefits of good or even great choices and the agony of the negative consequences that can follow poor choices.

Michael Vick is (was) a talented NFL rising star. He developed himself and his skill to rise to national fame. However, the choices he made on his “shadow side” have had consequences that go far beyond what Vick might have ever considered.   Perhaps when the dust settles and the consequences subside…Vick will use the experience to help others learn the sometimes painful lessons of choices and consequences.

Your thoughts?

Texas Motivational Speaker – Chuck Gallagher  (http://www.chuckgallagher.com) – Signing off…