The Real Michael Vick Questions

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By Peter Christian

Holy Crap! Did you hear the news? Michael Vick was released from prison!

What’s that? Oh, you heard? 37 times? In the last hour?

OK, so I know I’m not blazing a new trail here with yet another Michael Vick related story on the internet, but I feel like some of the most important points are being ignored. It is great that everyone is giving their take on whether Vick “deserves” a second chance in the NFL. Even better to hear speculation about which teams should be interested in his services. Then there is the talk about the possibility of playing in the upstart UFL due to the financial restrictions he would face in the NFL. Finally there is the chatter about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision about possibly extending Vick’s suspension from the game and his apparent desire to delay that decision. All great points to garner up some discussion on the message boards and airwaves but it is still leaving out one question about Vick and another about the NFL.

  1. Can Michael Vick contribute to a team this year?

AND

  1. Does Goodell want Vick in the league at all?

The first question is the toughest. Vick has supposedly been exercising while spending 23 months in prison, but in a day and age where NFL athletes are training at elite facilities with world class equipment, how can one expect to be in the same physical condition while using federal prison work out facilities and equipment? So how can a team think that Vick could help them to the point that it would outweigh the negative publicity they would take on for signing such a maligned public figure?

Well, the answer is simple. Vick is a freak of an athlete that has a ridiculously high ceiling. He is only 29 years old, he has always been lightning fast and he doesn’t have the wear and tear of your average 29 year old NFL player. He might need a little time to get acclimated to the game speed itself, but let’s remember how naturally gifted Vick was before his incarceration. He wasn’t known to have a wonderful work ethic or a great skill set for his position.

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No, Michael was known for his ability to create plays and extend them with his quickness, agility and speed. He might not have the 4.36 forty speed that he ran in 2001 but he still can burn and these days, every NFL team is fascinated by speed. The true question is can he still play quarterback in the NFL? The league ran into a “Wildcat Formation” craze while Vick was in the clink which ironically for Michael would have been a great formation for him for his ability to throw on the run while baiting the defense to come up to stop him from using his legs to gain yardage, but the Wildcat isn’t an offensive “philosophy” and isn’t utilized anymore than 5-10 times per game so it isn’t really feasible for Vick or for a team to form a marriage just to run the Wildcat.

As for the potential PR hit that a team may take for signing a player that will forever be labeled as a “dog killer” and “animal torturer,” personally I’d say PETA can go screw themselves because in all likelihood the diehard PETA supporters make up less than 1% of the NFL ticket sales and less than 5% of NFL fans. Plus you can always get on the bus that Vick served his just sentence while other NFL players are getting just a few weeks in prison for killing another person (unless of course one of those players are on your team).

Realistically Vick’s place on an NFL team will be as a back-up quarterback (at least until he proves otherwise) which means he isn’t going to be getting any contract offers that wow him at all.

However, that may be putting the cart in front of the horse, because he still might not even be eligible to do laundry for an NFL team depending on the feelings of Roger Goodell (the only guy in North America who is happy that Bud Selig and Gary Bettman still have jobs- only because he will always be in the top 50% among major sports commissioners in North America).

I have an inkling that Goodell is going to try and come off as a hard ass since his fabled Player Conduct Policy has been such a smashing success (just ask Plaxico Burress, Adam Jones, Donte Stallworth, Tank Johnson and Chris Henry) but who knows. I don’t want to be just another speculative wonk that has no clue.

I do want to extend a bit of advice to Mr. Goodell, however. From a business standpoint Goodell could force Vick into a situation that would basically push Michael out of the league and into the new UFL. For the NFL, that would be a disaster. The last thing the NFL needs right now is another football league that is giving fans a reason to avoid the NFL. NFL Meetings Football

Now I don’t mean to say that the UFL is a direct threat to the NFL, but if Goodell were to push a player of Vick’s stature into the lesser known league, it would give the new league both credibility (by having a player as talented as he is) and publicity (because the PETA crazies would come out of the woodwork). Then there would be the fact that Vick would be playing against competition that he would likely be able to dominate and thereby inflating his price to choose IF he wants to play in the NFL again or stick with the UFL and become the face of not only a franchise but the entire league.

No, Goodell needs to play this decision one way publicly and another behind closed doors. Publicly he needs to decry Vick’s actions yet again and to let it be known that Vick will be allowed into the league with no further suspension but with no wiggle room for any more screw ups (which I think/hope we can count on from Vick). Off the record he needs to be very accommodating to Vick in allowing him to get back into the league, resolve his outstanding financial issues and extend the olive branch so that he is not even tempted to go try and play for another league.

People may point to the situation with Adam Jones (he asked months ago that he not be referred to as Pac-Man any more, I will be one of the few that actually listen) and say how poorly that worked out, but I will be quick to counter that Jones is younger (less mature) and never spent any time in a federal prison. I have faith that the 18 months behind bars did far more for Vick’s rough character than any league suspension could have done.

While the other pundits, bloggers, writers and goons may go on and on about the future of Michael Vick remember that right now only two things matter and once those two questions are answered we can move onto the more juicy discussions that revolve around one of the most exciting and entertaining football players in the 21st century.

Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    The point that I highlighted in bold was freakin HILARIOUS! I love it…interesting about the Wildcat information too. How did I overlook that

  2. Vick shouldn’t get any special favors just because he can throw a football….that’s what is wrong with our society….we put our athletes on pedastals even after they kill, rape and rob….he’s a bum and should rot on the sidelines….

  3. Peter Christian says

    Dee, I don’t think Vick has gotten any favors thus far. Remember he served more time than the prosecutors requested as part of his plea agreement. I don’t mean to be a Vick apologist, but we have a justice system that punishes people for their crimes and once that punishment is done, he is free to continue a life that remains on the right side of the law. So, while some would question Vick’s true ability to throw the football (calm down Falcons fans), he should be an example of an athlete that didn’t get any favors because of his athletic prowess and public notoriety. While the other athletes that drink and drive multiple times or shoot themselves with an unregistered gun or kill someone while drunk/high behind the wheel get sweetheart deals, it was the guy who killed and tortured dogs who got the book thrown at him. I don’t mean to downplay what Vick did, but I think THAT is what is wrong with our society; People get more offended and horrified about dogs dying than people dying.

  4. Peter….while I can appreciate your point of view, and agree that yes Vick did serve his time, let’s remember that if he was an ordinary citizen he wouldn’t be looking at getting his cushy life back….convicted people struggle for the mear right to vote and get a somewhat decent job non the less make millions of dollars and have people idolize you….my 10 year old son was a hugh Vick fan until this happened….he was crushed that his idol could hurt and kill innocent dogs….so you tell me, do I want him watching this man and thinking that what he did is okay because he did his time and now he can carry on like nothing happened….
    Believe me, I am just as offended by human lives being taken as I am about animals….the difference in my book anyway is that animals (domesticated) only want love and are forced to be violent and evil….humans do that all by themselves…
    The bottom line is my opinion doesn’t count…..it’s all about the money and Vick will bring it in…just like Tyson did, before he took off Holifields ear….everyone thought he deserved a second chance…guess he showed us!!!!

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