Two weeks ago, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was named the Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Vick is the 12th recipient of the award but the first to "come back" as an ex-con who served time in federal prison.

Even non-football fans are familiar with the meteoric rise of Vick, recruited by the NFL two years into college to become its first African American quarterback chosen in the first-round draft. But by 2007, Vick's early notoriety as a bad boy with a bad attitude blossomed into a full-blown federal case. Charges of dogfighting and gambling ended in conviction, imprisonment, suspension from the NFL, and, finally, bankruptcy. Vick's second chance came in 2009, when the Philadelphia Eagles decided to sign him. That's the road that brought Vick to his recent award.

I don't follow football, but living as I do in Virginia Tech territory, where the Virginian rose to fame, I had little choice but to follow Vick even before his fall. But because his story connects to matters at the core of my being—creation care, activism, education, and the essence of the Christian faith—I've been compelled to follow it closely.

To begin with, creation care, specifically animal welfare, is clearly a biblical concern, from God's command to Adam to name the animals in Genesis to Jesus' assurance in the New Testament that falls outside God's care, up to the establishment of the first animal-welfare society by Christian abolitionists in the 19th century. Christians especially should be heartbroken by the vicious acts Vick was convicted of perpetrating against God's creatures. Dogfighting is a blood sport more gruesome than the name suggests. Dogs are bred to fight one another to a slow, tortured death for ...

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