Michael Vick, like most of us, has an awful lot to be thankful for on this day set aside for reflecting upon such things.
He has his children. He gets to be with them and their mother and the rest of his family. He has the stunning set of skills he was born with and that enabled him to achieve fame and fortune without doing much to maximize them. And now he has this post-prison opportunity to try it the other way, matching the skills with work ethic.
"Thank goodness we're in America," said Eagles coach Andy Reid, the man responsible for giving Vick this chance.
Almost wrote "second chance" there, but that wouldn't be accurate. Depending on how you keep score, Vick is on his third or fourth chance. So yes, he is fortunate to be living in a country that not only affords multiple chances for redemption but is more generous with those who can throw or hit or shoot a ball better than the rest of us.
Vick made headlines this week with a headline -- the one on the cover of Sports Illustrated -- and with another speaking engagement on behalf of the Humane Society. The confluence of those two things, his stellar play in leading the Eagles to a 7-3 record and this particular holiday make it a fitting time to assess Vick's development from pariah to redeemed superstar.
Thanksgiving also marks a milestone in the saga of one Tiger Woods. It was a year ago that he crashed his SUV near his Florida home and set in motion a breathtakingly swift and total fall from grace.
Woods didn't commit any felonies, as far as we know. He didn't have to go to federal prison. But he is like Vick in that he lost his reputation and millions of dollars as companies he endorsed dropped him like a moldy slice of bread. And, like Vick, Woods is in the middle of trying to rehab his image.
Oddly, Vick seems to be doing better.
As the anniversary of his accident approached, Woods went on a preemptive media campaign designed to set the agenda of the inevitable one-year-later stories. He wrote a first-person essay that appeared in Newsweek. He started a Twitter account and a Facebook page. He went on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" show.
Is it working? Hard to say what impact it will have long term, but the immediate reaction is that it feels insincere, contrived.
Reid was talking about Vick, not Woods, when he said this:
"Image covers a lot of things. That can be taken two different ways. I think he's learned from mistakes and he's a better person for it. That's the most important thing. Sometimes there can be an acting part to an image. I don't think you're seeing any acting here."
Reid was asked if he's concerned that Vick's image rehab -- doing interviews, rushing up to Connecticut to talk to high school kids -- will distract him from football. It's a jarring idea. By Vick's own account, it was a lot more distracting and time-consuming when he had to zip up from Atlanta on his off days to help run his illegal dogfighting operation.
"I'm just doing what I feel like I promised myself I would do, what I'm obligated to do, and I enjoy doing it," Vick said. "If I felt like it was going to fatigue me or tire me out then I wouldn't do it. I'm just trying to do things that I feel like in my heart I should be doing."
Is it cynical to suggest that Vick's image rehab is going better than Woods' because he is having more success athletically? Woods has not won a tournament since his accident and the revelations that spilled out in its aftermath. Vick is being celebrated just a few months after yet another lapse in judgment resulted in that shooting at his birthday party in June.
"That was a turning point in my life when I realized that I just had to get things in order and get my priorities in line -- and that's what happened," Vick said. "That was the point where I said 'OK, I get it now. Let's do this the right way.' "
It is stunning that bankruptcy and a prison term didn't accomplish that. Vick revealed more about that night in the interview he did with Sports Illustrated, but there are still unanswered questions.
Nobody really cares -- not Reid, not the Eagles, not most fans -- because right now, Vick is playing undeniably spectacular football.
But it's not just that. Beyond the cynical view, Vick really does appear changed even from last year. He is either a different person or a phenomenal actor. Time ultimately will tell which.
Today of all days, it's enough to take it all in, to marvel at the football player and harbor hope for the man.