Immediately after Michael Vick’s 23-month federal prison sentence ended on Monday July 20, the speculation ran wild about when, where, and if ever the former three-time Pro Bowl player would have an audience with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
All along the NFL through spokesman Greg Aiello has maintained a “we will let you know” attitude regarding the Vick situation and any possible end to his indefinite suspension.
Aiello recently said, “We’ve been consistent about (keeping the NFL’s plans under wraps) throughout this process. We’re not responding to any of the questions surrounding the review. Once a decision is made by the commissioner, then we’ll make a statement.’”
Well apparently according to a SI.com report there was indeed a meeting between Vick, his advisors led by his agent Joel Segal and Goodell. In a scene right out of the Sopranos, the meeting took place at an undisclosed location in New Jersey.
The same report said that Goodell and team NFL left via one entrance and Vick’s entourage left out another—I guess they didn’t want the Feds sniffing around Tony’s crew of Christopher, Ralphie, and Paulie.
I don’t know if it was Vick apologizing for lying to Goodell at the 2007 NFL Draft, contrition filled speech, or his plan to work with the Humane Society. But apparently whatever Vick said and did in the meeting showed Goodell that he was ready to resume his NFL career.
According to an ESPN report, Vick will indeed be reinstated to return to the NFL in the very near future, and he will have the opportunity to sign with any of the NFL’s 32 teams (Falcons already out after releasing their former star earlier this offseason).
Of course, the 29-year old will not be able to just waltz back into the NFL as he must find a team willing to take on his talent and the media circus that is sure to follow him.
And then there is the matter of a possible four game suspension at the start of the 2009 NFL season and certain other unreported conditions—only Goodell knows the rules to get out of the corner—that the former first overall selection in the 2001 NFL Draft will need to fulfill.
I am sure one of the stipulations will be that Vick keeps out of trouble and surrounds himself with good people. I know the recent rumors of Vick and Allen Iverson at the strip club were found not to be plausible—C’mon are you really going to accept the word of “Peaches” from the club.
But Vick needs to understand that he is a marked man, so any negative actions will only hurt his NFL future. My suggestion to Vick is to continue to surround himself with men like his former high school coach Tommie Reamon and mentor former Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy and keep his eye on the prize of “NFL Redemption.”
A good person to talk to maybe Ravens LB Ray Lewis, who overcame a January 2000 double homicide investigation and obstruction charges to becoming a Super Bowl Champion, Defensive MVP (2000 & 2003), and Madden Cover Player.
It is to the point that no one even mentions Lewis’ ordeal just that he is a Canton bound player. In terms of football, Vick has already started pushing the right buttons by hiring renowned NFL trainer Tom Shaw, who has worked with Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Vick—career passing numbers of 930-1730, 11505 yards, 71 TDs, 52 INTs, and a 75.7 rating in six years w/ the Falcons—does need to knock two years of rust off his rocket left arm and Shaw is the right man for the job.
To those that believe now that Vick is free to return to the NFL that he will have no takers due to his lack of quarterback skills, Wake-UP!! I know some dog loving people have their bias against Vick, but if you objectively look at the history of the NFL, he does deserve a shot to sink or swim so many players getting a second chance—see Leonard Little, Christian Peter, Pacman Jones and others.
There are approximately 96 quarterback in the NFL (three each to the NFL’s 32 teams) and you trying to tell me that passers like Charlie Whitehurst, Matt Moore, David Carr, Andrew Walter, and Joey Harrington are better than Vick...get a grip.
I am not saying that Vick can step off the sidelines after not planning a game since December 2006 and be his human-highlight reel self. But he definitely has the skills and resume to deserve a roster spot to prove himself worthy.
Remember Vick has an NFL career starting record of 38-28-1 in the regular season and a 2-2 record in the playoffs. Plus, he was the first quarterback in NFL history to run for over 1,000 yards and pass for over 2,400 yards in a season.
Also enough with the claims that he is too inaccurate (career completion percentage of 54 percent) to be an effective NFL starting quarterback and he would be best served as a “Slash” player and playing out of the Wildcat formation only.
If all that mattered in the NFL was accuracy, then former quarterback Ty Detmer (threw for over 60 percent three times in his career) would be in the Hall of Fame. Look, I know it is hard for some of you to put Vick’s heinous indiscretions in the past, but you need to face the facts the Vick more than likely be in an NFL uniform this season.
Now is the time for everyone to take a step back in the whole Michael Vick Dogfighting / Return to the NFL situation and let the former highest paid player in the NFL seek a new beginning. With Goodell apparently clearing the final obstacle away from Vick’s path, the question now becomes “Who will take a shot on him?”
Bringing in Vick will be a touchy nightmare PR situation—to say the least—so it is going to take a team braintrust (owner, GM, and head coach) that have a plan in place for Vick and who are not prone to give-in to public sentiment. Even though the Jets, Browns, Lions, and some other teams have already said no to the Michael Vick Experience.
I have no doubts some team will take a shot on him as winning trumps all in the NFL. I believe he will soon find an NFL home – to put a Favre-ian deadline on it, by Aug. 7.
My list has on it the St. Louis Rams (GM Bill Devaney has former ties to Vick from their Falcons days and current starting quarterback Marc Bulger has not been playing at a Pro Bowl level lately); Oakland Raiders (Owner Al Davis, a maverick himself, believes in 2nd chances); Dallas Cowboys (Owner Jerry Jones seems to be running the NFL’s version of a reform school lately and the charismatic leader of the Cowboys also needs better “Romo Insurance” than current back-up Jon Kitna); SF 49ers (Head Coach Mike Singletary and Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye believe in second chances plus starter Shaun Hill’s name is not written in stone), Patriots (If Kraft will let him, Belichick is it equals “winning”) and the Jaguars (need a better backup to inconsistent starter David Garrard than Todd Bouman).
Now that camps have opened today (Cleveland Browns rookies reported on July 24), you know it is going to be a fun next couple of weeks as “Michael Vick Watch” goes into high gear.
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)