Michael Vick Signing Opens Door for Other Felons

CK KorhonenCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2009

30 Dec 2001: Michael Vick # 7 of the Atlanta Falcons tries to evade the Miami Dolphins defense in the fourth quarter at ProPlayer Stadium in Miami Florida. Dolphins won 21-14. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/Getty Images

With the Philadelphia Eagles signing of Michael Vick on Thursday night, a new resource of potential NFL talent could be tapped: the federal prison system.

Vick has not played a down in the NFL in over two years because he spent 23 months in a federal prison facility in Leavenworth, Kansas after being convicted of running a dog-fighting ring.

This long absence from the game gives other felons hope of signing with the NFL upon their release.

"This gives me hope to play again," said Darryl Henley, former cornerback for the Los Angeles Rams and 1989 Rams Rookie of the Year.

Henley is currently serving a 41-year sentence for trafficking cocaine and hiring contracted killers to murder his trial judge.

"If I can get out early for good behavior, I would love to play back in Los Angeles again. What? They moved to St. Louis? L.A. doesn't even have a team now? Oh, forget it then!"

Vick's signing gives hope to the newly detained prisoners as well.

"I couldn’t be happier with this news," said Bernard Madoff. "I just started a 150-year sentence, which is probably a life sentence. Nevertheless, on the chance I can make it through, I am thrilled the NFL will give me a chance at a job. I even have a few ideas that could easily double their yearly income."

But could time away from the game affect Vick’s, and others' performance? Not according to Marcus "D-train" Douglass.

"I was an inmate with Vick in Leavenworth, and let me tell you, the guy still has it," D-train said with a big smile. "The quickness, agility, speed. It would take five or six minutes for us guys to catch him in the shower. He still has mad skills. Nice glutes too. Smooth as a baby’s bottom. Wish he was still here. But believe me, there is nothing else to do in prison than exercise and stay healthy. I might even give the NFL a try when I get out."

Even those not yet in prison have hope because of Vick.

"I was thrilled when I heard Vick signed with the Eagles," said Stan "Stabby" Anderson, who is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, as he awaits trial for felony assault and grand theft auto charges. "I pretty much know I am going to get convicted, but it makes me feel good to know I could have a job available in the NFL when I get out in seven to 10 years with good behavior."

For most felons, getting out of prison means losing the right to vote, carry firearms, running for office, or being unable to leave their state because of probation. Working for the NFL after prison could definitely help with that last issue.

So love him or hate him, Michael Vick has given a light at the end of the tunnel to thousands of people whose future looked dark.