The rehabilitation of Michael Vick will be a continuing process and the humbled former three-time Pro Bowl quarterback seems to understand the levity of his actions and the long hard road he must travel.
Vick recently met with NFL beloved former Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy, and the stoic coach shared words of wisdom with the formerly troubled quarterback.
The Humane Society of the United States also came out and said that Vick met its president recently in prison and wants to work on a program aimed at eradicating dogfighting among urban teens. These moves are all a good start, but Vick must convince the court of public opinion before anyone else.
Trust me, his expected meeting with Commissioner Goodell will be a cakewalk compared to convincing the many dog lovers out there who know all to well the gruesome details—dogs were hanged, drowned and electrocuted—outlined in Vick’s indictment that fueled public outrage plus brought unprecedented attention to the problem of dogfighting.
However Vick does have his supporters as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said upon learning of Vick’s release, “There’s no question Michael’s paid his debt to society and merits a second chance.” Blank added that Vick is taking positive steps by wanting to work with humane societies and making other changes in his life.
Former on-the-field opponent linebacker Derrick Brooks, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently said of Vick’s situation, “Just like any other American citizen, he deserves a chance to work.
I think that’s first and foremost, and his employment was football”. Brooks added, “Whatever team decides to give Mike an opportunity, I think that team has to convince the commissioner’s office that they have a system in place that’s going to help him succeed and move past his mistakes.”
Of course, all of this “Michael Vick playing in the NFL” talk is purely speculative at this point as there are many hurdles to the former quarterback returning the field.
Goodell must first reinstate Vick, which I do believe he will given his history of giving problem players like Adam “Pacman” Jones, Matt Jones, Tank Johnson, Chris Henry and others second and sometime third opportunities—after a positive meeting, I see Goodell handing down a four game suspension.
To his credit, one hurdle that Vick has already cleared is securing his release from the Falcons. As soon Vick is reinstated by the league, the Falcons will release him and he owe the team $6.5-$7.5 million.
But the hardest obstacle I believe Vick has to clear before returning is finding an NFL team willing to take a PR hit for a player that has severely tarnished the NFL’s shield. It is going to take a very strong owner with a secure GM and head coach to make the decision to bring in the formerly convicted player.
We all know the public relations mess that awaits such a team (picketing and boycotts), but there are several on the field issues, too.
There is no doubt that Vick was an extraordinary talent at one time (remember his 27-7 playoff win over the Packers at snowy Lambeau Field in 2002), but what role does the NFL’s single season top rushing quarterback ever play on a team (backup QB/Wildcat QB/WR)?
How will he affect team chemistry if he signs around training camp or into the season? And most importantly, how much have his skills eroded during his two years away from the game (Vick played intramural football in prison)?
So where will Michael Vick land? My list starts with the Cowboys, Raiders, Bills, Jaguars, and Niners. But there is also Arena Football or the new-fangled UFL to knock off some rust.
To all of the people that believe Michael Vick has committed acts that are truly unforgivable, I say enough already with persecuting this man.
Let me make this abundantly clear, I in no way support or condone what he did, but the man has served his time and deserves a second chance.
It may be an eye opener to some stone throwing fans that are convinced the NFL should be closed a book to such a despised person, but each Sunday NFL fans cheer for players that have committed crimes from domestic violence to weapons charges—try checking the roster of your favorite team and for those needing additional help there is a book called Pro and Cons.
At the very least Vick is one of the few players who actually served legitimate time in prison for his acts so give the man a chance to redeem himself.
Stay tuned as this melodrama is only going to get juicier as we head towards the end of July.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)