Among all the people who pay attention to football, and some who don’t, conversation over the next few days will be whether or not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will allow former Atlanta Falcon Michael Vick back into the NFL now that he has been released from federal prison on charges of operating a dog-fighting ring.
I say the question Vick should be asking himself is whether or not he wants to go back to the NFL, quite yet.
Once Vick makes his return to the NFL, he will not only be swarmed by the media on a regular basis, but he will be constantly scrutinized about every single thing he does or says while he is with an NFL team.
PETA will surely make their regular appearances to the practice facility of whatever team decides to sign him. At all of the games, there will surely be fans who will do whatever they can to get inside of the former No. 1 overall pick’s head.
Not to mention, no team in the NFL will look to him to be their starting quarterback or face of their franchise like he once was in Atlanta. For the most part, he will probably spend more time on the bench in an NFL uniform then he will on the field in 2009.
A player with the vast number of skills and winning background that Vick possesses shouldn’t be stuck to the sideline like that. He is too much of a talent, too big a playmaker.
During his tenure as a starting quarterback, he was seen as a touchdown waiting to happen on every play. Players of his caliber should not be constricted to only being used on 10-15 plays a game in gadget-type formations. He won’t be able to make the impact that he normally would if he was stuck in this role.
The reason why he was so deadly in Atlanta was the fact that teams had to deal with him on every play. They would gameplan all week to do everything they possibly could to stop him from running.
Teams would try so hard to stop him and after a while they would start to get a little mentally-lethargic, and then he would remind them why he was unquestionably the greatest athlete to ever play the quarterback position in the history of the NFL.
ZOOM (As his Nike shoe once said).
Vick would be running up the sidelines, leaving linebackers in the dust and breaking the ankles of defensive backs who thought they were quick enough to deal with him. In a second, the gameplan a coach might have taken an entire month to concoct for stopping the Falcons was out of the window as Vick celebrated in the endzone.
But if Vick is limited to only playing in the “Wildcat” for someone’s offense or only brought in to be the recipient of a trick play, all eyes will be on him for the few plays that he is on the field and, more likely than not, he will be rendered relatively ineffective.
So what should Vick do?
This might cause a colossal backlash from the Vick-lovers that are reading this column, but hear me out.
If Vick ever wants to return to being the deadly playmaker he once was, the best career move for him should be to go the UFL, whether Goodell reinstates him to the NFL or not.
If Vick goes to the UFL, he will not only be the face of the Orlando franchise—whom he automatically would have to sign with, according to UFL rules—he would be the face of the entire league.
Some might say that the UFL would not want a person fresh off of a 23-month stint in federal prison to be the face of their football league, which may be true. But realistically, can you name any player who is on a UFL roster right now?
If Vick signs on, everyone will know at least one player in their league before they even have their first game. He will bring probably twice the media coverage to their games that they would have had without him and they can legitimately say they have a superstar in their league.
If your league has a superstar, people will want to watch (i.e. NHL with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, Olympic Swimming with Michael Phelps and Cycling with Lance Armstrong), especially if that superstar is as polarizing a figure as Vick is.
Not to mention, if Vick can return to being anywhere near the player he once was, he will certainly leave the players in the UFL in his dust and add them to his highlight reel that is much longer than a lot of players who have played twice as long as he did in the NFL.
He will grow this league into a respectable entity, while at the same time, if he remains a good citizen, raising his credibility to NFL teams as not only a person but as a player too.
If he plays extremely well while in the UFL and shows he can return to being the player he was two years ago, a team with quarterback problems who are willing to think outside of the box will most likely invite him back to his rightful place in the NFL with open arms.
Then the ZOOM will be back in the NFL, and that’s a scary thought for defensive coordinators.