They miss him.
Granted, the theme isn't explicit, with contentment being the prevailing sentiment.
If not for Bad Newz Kennels, it rationalizes, the team would be eternally bogged by draft day blunders like DeAngelo Hall, Mike Jenkins and Jamaal Anderson—all Rich McKay's resume take-aparters—and more, with the then-GM's future whiffs. After the mushroom cloud—Vick was indicted on federal dogfighting charges within a 24-hour window of the Falcons fall to 3-10—came a fallout more radiant than radioactive for the organization:
McKay was bumped to president/CEO. Thomas Dmitroff tapped in as GM. Matt Ryan was drafted No. 1 overall in 2008.
Order was restored in the ATL, so says Bradley.
But this wasn't about the conclusion. It was the conversation.
They're actually mulling this over?
Think of the subliminals therein.
Better: Imagine if this was you and your girl. You tell her, "Funny story: I've been thinking an awful lot about my ex lately. I mean, I'm totally happier with you now. But I can't help but reminisce, our anniversary coming up and all..."
Does chatter out of Atlanta and Dallas make you more appreciative of Vick?
Leveling with you: the Atlanta media took the must-have storyline du jour and ran (a marathon) with it. But they still said it, knowing readers would buy it. Knowing readers already thought it.
Mike Vick's return to the Georgia Dome as a starter or not (he played as a reserve in 2009):
This is where they went?
Even after the Falcons did all they could to show they moved on?
Even after they hired Mike Smith? Even after they went 49-33 since?
Even after investing more in Ryan than the Julio Jones and Herschel Walker deals combined, some $72 million and the hope of the masses? Even after Ryan's 33-13 record as starter? Even after landing as many 11-5 seasons as the guy Ryan replaced? (Atlanta went 11-4 in games he started 2004.) And more 13-3s? In three fewer years than Vick had?
Even after insisting they were better for it?
"I don't think there was any hesitancy (to get Ryan's rookie deal done) because of the experience we just had," owner Arthur Blank said after drafting Ryan in 2008.
Granted, it's impossible to forget an ordeal like that. The ascension. The $100 million contract. The Groundhog's Day of training camps that had near-every summer story wondering, "Is this Vick's Year?" The answer, stamped Dec. 11, 2007.
But it's also impossible to forget the Mike Vick experience. The stuff of pre-draft smitten from his time at Virginia Tech. The over-the-pylon launch against New Orleans. The through-the-Minnesota-secondary split. The perpetual hurt he laid on Carolina.
That's indelible, irreplaceable.
They know that.
And that was then. If you buy into his reformed man rhetoric and last year's half-season passer rating of 108.7, you think now means more. Talk about an object of covet...
Makes you wonder how thankful Eagle fans ought to be. Not that it should take your now-girlfriend's ex to stuff her mailbox with mixtapes to be appreciative. But if talk like this is Atlantans' passion, how should Philadelphians feel?
Iffy on his second $100 million contract? Skittish over his 1-for-8 in going a whole 16 games?
How quickly we forget our own recent history:
That Vick isn't the recession figured to follow Donovan McNabb. He's progress.
That Vick isn't the calamity Kevin Kolb turned out to be. He's boon.
That Vick doesn't need the dolling up the Dallas media did of its latest debacle. True, Vick's 44 percent Week 1 completion rate could be better. But it could be worse: you don't see me juxtaposing Vick against the Monday Night Football doubleheader slate of quarterbacks not named Tom Brady, as if his superiority over Chad Henne, Kyle Orton and Jason Campbell isn't redundant.
As if that alone justifies faith in him. (Like the column does Romo.)
Onto heavier things: You can argue that Vick's polarity makes us examine ourselves. That the hard line he makes us draw on judgment, virtue, conditional acceptance and the universality of morality (or not), in fact, makes us better people. Makes us better fathers, sons and husbands, if only to be who he wasn't. If only to be who Vick says he's become.
Helluva lot more than contentment.
At least it should be.