Michael Vick's tumultuous career has possibly reached its final roadblock well before his speedy legs have tired. Vick's talent remains a major debate among fans, but his actions and decisions off the field have reached a point where Vick now faces a potential end to his NFL career.
By understanding past indiscretions, credibility with the commissioner and the locale of the incident, Vick now faces a major realization that his life in the NFL could be over.
Three years ago it was hard to imagine Michael Vick back in an NFL uniform. A major fallout with the league stemming from drug issues, obscene gestures toward fans, and finally a 21-month prison sentence for leading a dog fighting ring all meant that the already declining and aging quarterback's career was surely over.
The Philadelphia Eagles, however, offered Vick a second chance in 2009. With the new emphasis on the Wildcat system in the NFL, the Eagles saw Vick as the perfect catalyst. His breathtaking speed and arm strength created a situation where the Eagles were able to take out the ultimate wild card in many games.
The 2010 offseason started off fairly well for Vick. Donovan McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins, creating the possibility of a quarterback competition with young upstart Kevin Kolb. Andy Reid and the Eagles organization refused to trade the sought-after Vick, instead picking up his $1.5 million option and emphasizing a desire to unlock the old potential of the former star.
However, the goodwill of this offseason has all seemingly become unraveled over the last few days. Vick's birthday party at the Virginia Beach restaurant Guadalajara ended with a literal bang as a patron was shot a block away just four minutes after Vick's leaving the night club. Adding to this problem is that the victim is Quanis Phillips, a co-defendant of Vick's during the dogfighting trial.
Vick's past indiscretions create an unfair perception of the quarterback. His many run-ins with the law and fans create an overwhelmingly negative perception of the player, highlighted by a recent Forbes poll in which 69 percent of Americans disliked Michael Vick. While Vick was not there at the time of the shooting, this opinion will strengthen as more casual sports fans find out about the incident. This means more bad publicity for the NFL shield that Goodell desires to protect.
Furthermore, Goodell has stated in the past that Vick's margin for error was "extremely limited" and he cannot associate himself with other felons. While it is not known if Vick spoke to the victim, the connection still seems very likely because they were in the same vicinity of one another and had a previous relationship.
A second major problem for Vick arises from his honesty on this issue. Vick and his lawyers said he left thirty minutes before the incident. However, now a surveillance camera has revealed Vick left the club four minutes before the shooting occurred.
The problem with this "white lie" is Vick has been guilty of this before—three years ago, to be precise. Vick initially denied any involvement in the actions of dogfighting being blamed on him to Roger Goodell in a meeting and later admitted his fib in court. Vick was subsequently suspended early in the 2009 season (on top of the seasons he missed due to being in prison) for this lie. Even if it boils down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Vick's history will still raise suspicions in Goodell's eyes.
Finally, Vick's problems must stem from the area of the inicident. As a resident of Virginia Beach, Virginia, I can attest to particular regions and locales in the Hampton Roads area. Town Center, the location by which Guadalajara is located is in one of the "nicer" areas of Virginia Beach and is one of the nicer clubs there. With a $25 cover and strict dress code, Guadalajara's a nightspot that is certainly not welcome to many of the seedier patrons of the area.
In direct proximity to the restaurant are several other upper middle-class restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang's. The repuations of these restaurants only add to the negative perception of Vick, reinforcing the claim that trouble still follows the NFL quarterback wherever he goes
Michael Vick finds himself in a very difficult bind with the National Football League. Fair or unfair, Vick's reputation precedes him, which means he will never get a fair trial in the court of public opinion. Furthermore, this reputation, especially when coupled with Goodell's unsurpassed power regarding the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, creates a large mountain for the former star to climb.
As a former non-believer in the quarterbacking ability of Michael Vick, I am rooting for the star. For the sake of Michael Vick and NFL fans, I hope that the player remains truthful and honest in his meeting with Goodell. In Goodell's eyes, while no crime has been committed by the troubled quarterback, the "shield" has yet again been tainted by a well-known player. Vick needs to be as forthright as possible to avoid anymore possible penalty by the league.
However, Vick's career may already be buried before he is even given a fair trial.