Michael Vick's career with the Atlanta Falcons is officially over.
The Falcons officially cut ties with the former superstar today after two years of delayed inevitability. Once Michael Vick was implicated in a dogfighting ring and the evidence mounted, the writing was on the wall. Vick would never be a Falcon again.
The issue of whether or not to re-instate him, where he might end up, and his ability to be an effective NFL player after a two-year prison sentencehave been discussed numerous times here. I've speculated on the future enough. The question in my mind today is about the past.
Simply put, was the Michael Vick era in Atlanta worth it? The answer is yes, it absolutely was.
Detractors will point out his 53.8 career completion percentage, the undeniably mediocre touchdown to interception ratio (1.37 to 1) and his reckless, and injury prone, style of play.
What you can't deny is that Michael Vick won. Quarterbacks get too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses. While it's unfair, it's the nature of the sport.
Vick was 38-28-1 as a starting quarterback. For a lot of franchises, that's not that great of a record. For Atlanta, it's worthy of a parade.
Michael Vick was responsible for two things Atlanta had never had before. The first one is buzz. Even in the 1998 Super Bowl season, noone thought Atlanta was for real until the end of the season. Nobody gave them a snowball's chance in hell of beating Minnesota in the NFC title game.
Michael Vick gave the franchise instant notoriety. Jerseys flew off the racks. Tickets sold in bunches. The Falcons sold out every home game of the Michael Vick era once he assumed the role of starter. That was unheard of in this town.
When I was growing up the only way to see Falcon home games was to go to them.
Secondly, Michael Vick brought a radical concept to the city: expectation. Vick led the team to a playoff win at Lambeau his first year as starter in 2002.
After missing most of the 2003 season with an injury, he led the team to the NFC title game in 2004. Atlanta collapsed down the stretch the next two seasons finishing 8-8 and 7-9 in '05 and '06, and people were livid.
I don't remember a single season in my lifetime where anyone complained about a .500 season in Atlanta. That was the futility of the Falcons franchise over history at work. We had dramatically lowered expectations.
Michael Vick shattered that and fans, for the first time, were demanding something more than mediocrity from the franchise.
The 2007 season was pure hell. Vick, at the least, broke some hearts and, at the most, shocked, appalled, and disgusted a vast majority of the public. Bobby Petrino lived up to his scummy reputation and there wasn't much reason for joy. Fortunately and miraculously, Atlanta emerged from the darkness and found salvation in 2008.
Vick had an opportunity to be a legend in this town. For a time, it looked like when the all time greats in Atlanta sports history would be mentioned we'd say the name Vick alongside Aaron and 'Nique. Vick threw that opportunity away thanks to a vile and disgusting hobby that dominated his private life.
Despite his epic fall from grace, the fact remains that there wasn't a better time to be a Falcons fan than from 2001 to 2006.
There are several reasons why that was so. The overwhelming reason was because of number seven.