vickLast month I posted some comments about the legacy of Nelson Mandela, One Man Matters, noting that one of the greatest impacts he had in his latter years was to demonstrate what forgiveness looks like.

Recently, my son Alec sent me a link to a blog by Tullian Tchividjian, Forgiven People Forgive, on the same theme. (Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham and the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church). He points out that two team mates of Riley Cooper, of the Philadelphia Eagles, had very different responses to the video that became public showing Cooper using the racial slur while drunk at a concert.

Cooper’s words were offensive and inexcusable. He immediately made a public apology beginning, “I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive….”

Michael Vick and Le Sean McCoy, both African-American teammates of Cooper’s, made their own public comments. Vick said, “As a team we understood because we all make mistakes in life and we all do and say things that maybe we do mean and maybe we don’t mean. But as a teammate I forgave him.” McCoy said, “I forgive him. We’ve been friends for a long time. But in a situation like this you really find out about someone. Just on a friendship level, I can’t really respect someone like that…I guess the real him came out that day.

Both were kind enough to say they forgave Cooper, but Tchividjian makes the important point: Vick said, “We”; McCoy said, “Him.” Vick’s words were inclusive; McCoy’s distanced himself. What factor may have resulted in a kinder reply from Vick? No doubt the 21 months in prison and his own stunning public downfall following the exposure of his dog-fight gambling ring.

Take a look at Tullian’s blog. It’s a reminder that when we’re honest about our own brokenness, we can embrace a sincerely remorseful apology from someone whose behavior we disagree with. Even someone who offends us. It’s about forgiveness.