Here in the thick of the NFL offseason, there have been many questions for fans to ponder as training camps quickly approach.
From determining Tom Brady’s health and Peyton Manning’s upcoming commercial count to trying to figure out just exactly what Mark Sanchez was thinking when he modeled for that GQ photo shoot, arguably the biggest story in the league revolves around a guy who hasn’t even played in two years.
Yep, cover your dog’s ears—it’s time to talk about Michael Vick.
The next chapter in Vick’s roller-coaster (or maybe skydiving? It’s only going down) story began this past week as he moved from prison to home confinement for the next two months. Between now and the start of the season in September, Vick will become a free man, meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and ultimately find out just how forgiving the NFL—and America, for that matter—is towards him.
Looking ahead, one can only play the guessing game of how Vick’s next few crucial months will unfold.
Apparently, Vick is moving forward with hopes that he’ll be back in the league this fall. Reports have come out that he’s hired a personal trainer to get back in football shape, and the great former coach Tony Dungy has been talking with Vick to help polish him up emotionally/mentally before the pinnacle meeting with Goodell.
Obviously, it looks like Vick will do everything he can to get himself back in the league. But the question remains: Will that be enough?
Even if/when Goodell reinstates Vick, he’ll immediately be looking for a new team. After all the heartbreak he caused in Atlanta and last season’s emergence of Matt Ryan, the Falcons will try and get rid of him quicker than Adrian Peterson’s 40 time.
And even if Vick was picked up by another team, it would be a long climb back to the top. The league has changed since Vick last played in 2006.
Since then, offenses have become quite a bit more pass-happy. Teams averaged 65.9 percent of their pass attempts came from plays involving three or more wide receivers back in ’06.
That percentage has been climbing since Vick left; last year it was up to 70.9 percent. For a guy who’s completion percentage has not only always been poor (a 53.8 career average), but also decreasing since the 2004 season, that doesn’t bode well at all.
But what set Vick apart from the rest, of course, was his ability to run the ball. He led all quarterbacks by a landslide with 1,039 rushing yards in ’06.
While Vick is only 28 and therefore most likely still capable of being very mobile, the last time I checked quarterbacks are still expected to throw the ball. Vick’s legs have always been an added bonus, but might be his greatest asset if his passing skills continue to decrease. And that doesn’t look good for him either.
Oh, and you think any team wants all the negative media attention on top of it all? That’s like putting a rotten cherry on top of an already crappy ice cream cone.
With all of that said, it’s not like Vick can’t make it back. He knows how difficult it will be and, frankly, his ridiculous athletic ability is what made him one of the most feared quarterbacks in the NFL in the first place.
So, if Vick did overcome everything and made it back with a team, a guy with that much talent simply cannot be counted out.
But there’s a whole other beast Vick must face as well—one that does not pertain to anything on the field, yet is just as vital to the comeback: his reputation. Vick has faced some of the harshest public scrutiny any athlete has ever had to face—and rightfully so.
If he made it back, though, would fans give him a second chance at all?
Surprisingly, they just might. In a series of polls released by ESPN.com this past week, not only did 78 percent of voters think that will start again at quarterback, but 57 percent of in another poll admitted that they’d like their favorite team to sign Vick.
Talk about some redemption there!
And if you ask me, why not give the guy a second chance?
What Vick did was despicable and downright disturbing. But like anybody who commits a crime, he’s served his time and therefore deserves a chance to re-invent himself. While fans probably have an issue with Vick going back to making millions after only two years in prison, it should be kept in mind that he’s already lost plenty of that cash.
Others have arguably done worse, too, and are still playing.
Look at Rams defensive end Leonard Little. He decided to get behind the wheel after drinking all night, crashed into a car and killed the driver. Regardless of how you look at it, he, like Vick, made a horribly poor decision—one that will remain with him the rest of his life. And he still plays today.
Don’t even get started on looking at other sports too. While Vick tarnished his reputation, at least he didn’t at all affect the game itself.
In the Major Leagues, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, the two best hitters outside of Albert Pujols, have been found guilty of steroids this season. They deliberately cheated to get ahead in their profession, and they can both continue to play. (Well, Ramirez will after that 50 game suspension. Seems like a little better punishment than prison though.)
The point is, Vick has served time and will continue to pay for his actions.
Outside of everything he’ll have to do just to get re-instated and picked up by a team, Vick will need to prove all over again that he can be an affective player in the NFL.
Despite the odds stacked against him and his reputation all but ruined, it all comes down to Vick’s talent or possibly former talent, as we have yet to see.
You heard it here—that’ll be the reason he gets a second shot in the NFL. Once he’s back, though, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen next.
Indeed, the next few months will be a very telling time for the fallen star. Until then, though, Vick’s situation is no better than Shia Labeouf’s in the strange romantic/horror “Disturbia.”
Except that Vick doesn’t have that hot girl from the movie next door to keep him company, of course.