Brett Favre could retire and un-retire every year for the next 10 years, and I don't think we'd see the passionate firestorm we're seeing once again with Michael Vick's release from federal prison. Favre pushes people's buttons, but nothing in sports comes close to the fervor created by the Michael Vick story.
The major debate that rages on as Vick flies off to home confinement is the debate as to whether or not Michael Vick should be reinstated to the NFL.
The answer is 100 percent, unequivocally, YES.
This isn't actually up for debate. This shouldn't be an issue. The people who stand against Vick's reinstatement have no ground to stand upon.
I've heard the dissent. I've heard the people who are passionate about animal rights who think Vick is a sick and twisted individual and the facts from this case prove just that.
However, it shouldn't be up to you or me. Heck, it shouldn't even be up to Roger Goodell. Vick squandered millions of dollars and served the sentence handed down to him by a federal judge. His debt to society is paid in terms of the legal guidelines set forth. Vick should be free to pursue employment. NFL teams, just as freely, should be allowed to deny him a contract if they so choose.
NFL teams should also be allowed to sign him if they think he'll benefit their franchise.
For the most part, the people that run NFL teams aren't dumb. They know full well the implications of what signing Vick would mean. The backlash, the media frenzy, the unwanted publicity: They exist. They will consume the franchise. If a team wants to assume that risk, they should be allowed to do so.
Michael Vick increased the relevance of the Atlanta Falcons one million percent. Arthur Blank has made his peace with Vick and rightfully won't accept him back on the Falcons, but Blank should be one of the biggest advocates for Vick's NFL return, simply because Vick put his franchise on the map.
Vick was one of the rare athletes that stood out in the otherwise homogeneous NFL. He sold jerseys; he had people talking. He electrified the league. He moved the meter, so to speak.
But he's still not bigger than the league.
That's the beauty of the NFL. No one player is above the overall product put out on a weekly basis. People can say it's a risk to reinstate Vick, but for the league to allow him to pursue employment, they assume no risk at all.
PETA can protest all they want, but at the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people who sit down to watch NFL games on Sunday aren't the picket sign holding, rally attending, animal activist types. They're regular people who want to enjoy their Sundays by watching football. Michael Vick won't change that.
Michael Vick did reprehensible things. If you think he's a reprehensible person, I wouldn't argue with you. That's simply not impetus enough to deny him the right to pursue an NFL job.
Michael Vick should be allowed back in the NFL, and NFL teams should be allowed to tell him no.