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Quantum leap or leap of faith? The Michael Vick debacle

May 25, 2009

Just hours after the once-famous-now-infamous Michael Vick was released from jail and returned home, questions were already being thrown around media outlets and doubtless some NFL front offices: Can he still play? Will he be allowed to? Do we want to sign this guy? The man who has become the face of NFL player misconduct was one of the most exciting players in recent memory, and aside from flippin’ the bird to some angry fans and, y’know, being involved in the biggest NFL scandal in the last decade, Michael Vick was once the face of the Falcons franchise and more than a few corporations. He was the first visiting QB to win a playoff game at Lambeau Field and, despite his erratic play, he led Atlanta to the NFC Championship game.

Vick: responsible for smashed controllers worldwide in 04.

Vick: responsible for smashed controllers worldwide in '04.

Idolized by Madden players everywhere, Vick was a nightmare for defenses with his running ability and although his passing lacked the accuracy of Manning or Brees, it was still always a threat. However, on the flip side, he ran an illegal dogfighting ring in which some atrocious actions were taken against dogs who lost fights (click here all gluttons for punishment – he makes Cruella DeVille look like St. Francis Assisi).

The question now circles as to whether he’ll ever play in the NFL again: he’ll have to be reinstated by Roger Goodell after having lied to him in a face-to-face wherein he denied having been involved in the dogfighting at all (miiiiistaaaaaaaaaaaaaake) and a team will have to take a chance on a player who has got an erratic statistical record and a downright appalling off-the-field one too. Vick never had a quarterback rating higher than 81 for a season, only played 16 games once in 6 years, and was accused league-wide of being a running QB and not a passer. However, he was also selected to 3 Pro Bowls and holds the record for the most rushing yards by a QB in a single season (1,039 in 2006).

In this commentor’s opinion, Vick should never be allowed on the field of play in the NFL again. Ever. His off-the-field actions were way above and beyond what any recent offender has done, and the horrific level of cruelty to which these innocent animals was subjected was inexcusable. Regardless of the man’s talent, he is not only a recently incarcerated felon but also lied to the NFL Commissioner (and a court) when he could have confessed. Given Roger Goodell’s reputation for zero-tolerance, it would be extremely surprising if Vick was given anything less than a lifetime ban from the NFL and anything to do with it, and I, for one, would applaud that action. Ex-cons deserve a second chance at life, true, but ex-cons do not deserve a second chance at one of the most prestigious and best-paid jobs in the world when they have patently shown they are not worthy of it.

Anyway, ranting aside, if Vick is reinstated then he will face an uphill struggle to even get picked up by an NFL team. The proliferation of the Wildcat offense makes him an attractive weapon, but Bill Parcells in Miami is not the kind of man to sign Michael Vick, especially given that they selected ex-Mountaineer Pat White in the draft to use as a Wildcat knuckleball. The most obvious landing spots for troubled-but-talented players in the past have been Oakland and Dallas. However, with the Cowboys’ cutting of T.O., Tank Johnson and Pacman ‘make it rain’ Jones in the last 2 seasons, it’s becoming apparent that Jerry Jones realizes when risk outweighs reward and acts accordingly by cutting out low-character players.

That leaves Oakland as the most obvious place for Vick to land. However, with the Raiders already having a talented young nucleus on offense – JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Darrius-Heyward Bey – even a man as craz-*cough* interesting as Al Davis may not want to introduce an erratic veteran who will bring more media scrutiny to the Bay Area and possibly destroy team chemistry.

All told, I think Vick has played his last down in the National Football League. Even if he is reinstated (and that’s the biggest ‘if’ in pro sports right now) then a team will have to deem that enormous media attention and the very possible spectres of fan disgust and locker room division are worth the price of a talented athlete who hasn’t done any meaningful football training in 2 years. Vick’s only possible re-entry into the NFL will have to come from an incredibly forgiving commisioner’s reinstatement and a team willing to take a big chance. In this NFL age of financial crisis and risk minimizing, it seems unlikely that Ron Mexico will be back in an NFL uniform.

And in this man’s opinion, that’s how it should be.

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