His debt has finally been paid and one of the most electrifying superstars the NFL and football fans have ever seen, Michael Vick is a free man, but he’s not totally out of the woods, yet. NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell will make the ultimate decision soon on whether Vick can play this season or not. It’s senseless to figure out if Goodell will reinstate Vick or not because of his involvement in a dogfighting ring. On Nov. 19, 2007, Vick started his imprisonment for 23 months in prison and home confinement. The question is if Vick is reinstated, what will he bring to the table for a franchise? The same excitement the NFL was used to or a player that can’t adapt to today’s NFL?
Vick’s problems started on July 17, 2007 when he was indicted on federal charges for a dogfighting conspiracy. Once was one of the most exciting professional athletes in all of sports, Vick had fell from the top of the world to one of the most disgraced person in the country. Sparking up debates of possible racism because Vick was a young, rich black man going to prison for killing ‘dogs’, premeditated, when murderers and sex offenders committed crimes, premeditated, getting a slap on the wrist and served next to no time in prison. Since this country is ‘selectively sensitive on some social issues’, Vick went to prison for torturing (key word) dogs, not humans, angering many people. “Vick a good young man,” said Former NFL wide receiver, Antonio Freeman who was recently inducted into the Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame. “A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to grow up in our types of neighborhoods…There’s a lot of negative things that can occupy a person in the hoods and ghettos. He (Vick) was just a product of his environment and it’s hard for people outside the box to know what goes on in our neighborhoods and these things still goes on. Since it was Michael Vick, it became a national story and a national issue.”
What Vick did was foolish and irresponsible, costly him about $100 million totaling from his 10-year $130 million contract from his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, and endorsements including filing bankruptcy ($20 million in debt to creditors). The sad part is a percentage of the public was pleased with Vick suffering (financially) because of jealousy and dislikes the fact that professional athletes make millions of dollars playing ball.
Vick’s issues are well documented and how much of a role Vick played in the dogfighting ring is behind him while dealing with his finances and image issues. But if Vick is allowed to make a living once again in the NFL, he may get an opportunity to earn back some of what he lost, depending on Goodell’s decision.
Goodell already suspended Vick before the 2007 NFL season started, and rightfully so because it would have caused issues for the Falcon’s organization. Goodell could be upset with Vick because he denied his involvement in the criminal activity in Goodell’s face. Goodell is aware of the out cry for Vick’s return to the NFL and society’s belief of giving a person a second chance. On the other hand, Goodell stated, “I don’t believe everybody deserves a second chance… It’s not a right to play in the NFL. It’s a privilege.”
The question was what will Vick bring to a franchise, will he still be exciting or can he adapt to the league again. “There are playmakers and difference makers and there’s a difference…Mike has been and will be a difference makers,” said former NFL safety and teammate, Keion Carpenter. “He’s a phenomenal leader and a guy who plays the game the way it suppose to be played with passion. So, I’m expecting great things from him.”
What’s sickening is to hear ‘expects’ criticizing Vick because his ‘numbers’ were low prior to his conviction. “I’m a Michael Vick supporter, a Michael fan and I played against the man and for all the analysts who said he’s just a running quarterback, not a good quarterback is crazy,” said New York Jets linebacker, Bart Scott. “It’s amazing at how soon people quickly forgot how much of a tremendous athlete and football player he was.” People can’t run on solid ground properly and fast without tennis shoes, healthy knees, legs and toes or cook good food with the right ingredients, but don’t have pots and pans – simply saying Vick didn’t have much help, receiver wise, outside tight end Alge Crumpler, now with the Tennessee Titans. “I think he’s a tremendous quarterback, not just an athlete,” said Scott. “He has an extremely strong arm and I think when he was out there, he played with a young Roddy White and the guys were inconsistent in catching the football. I think he did very well.”
It’s not a given that if Vick is reinstated that he will pick up where he left off, but he is blessed with a rare God given talent which will help him get back on track quicker. ‘I went to the same college as Michael Vick at Virginia Tech and he was always a special athlete,” said Jason Murphy, center of the Titans. “He just needs to shape up and given the chance to learn. I think it’ll be easier for him to jump back into it because he’s a natural. No doubt he’s needs to be polished up and everything else, but I still think Michael Vick is still going to be Michael Vick, even if it’s at wide receiver, quarterback or defensive back because he’s a natural athlete. As long as commissioner Goodell gives him the opportunity, I think he’s going to take full advantage.” The key thing is having the mechanics of being a quarterback in the NFL is the biggest issue. “I think if he’s given another shot, he can still be a good quarterback,” said Freeman. “It’s depends on how a team unitize him. He hasn’t been throwing balls for an organized team. Learning the drop backs, how to hold the ball, throwing the ball, and being accurate. These things are very pivotal. People want to see how rusty he has become and also, how long will it take a team to prepare and get him ready for a game situation? Whose are the issues people are going to look at concerning him.”
Vick have been working out since his been home. According to the USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, Vick’s high school football coach, Tommy Reamon, is assisting in helping Vick’s development, in a limited space, in which Vick have been working diligently on agility drills and throwing footballs for 20 to 30 yards because of the confined area.
The word is that no NFL team is not interested in Vick and that’s bologna (franchises are like little kids in keeping secret from other little children), especially when NFL players want him on their teams because players are the ones that truly knows a ‘player’. “Before we (the Jets) drafted Sanchez (Mark, quarterback from USC, 5th pick overall), I was hoping, for me because I know what he brings to the table, that he came out here with us, but we went a different direction…I think everybody deserves a second chance,” said Scott.
The only people in the NFL that are nervous about Vick’s possible return are starting quarterbacks, other then Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Drew Brees, and Brett Favre because they are untouchable, because if they mess up and Vick is waiting, it’s a wrap. “There are plenty of franchises out there who needs a quarterback because are plenty of mediocre quarterbacks in the league, so I don’t know why he can’t come back and be a quarterback,” said Freeman. “If a team have a passer, Mike is going to have to humble himself and accept the role he’s given and wait for his brake because he’ll get his brake… Teams need a good second and third string quarterback. You hear it all the time and he’s going to have to humble himself and be very patient.”
Even if Vick is reinstated, people will wonder if he is sincere and sorry for what happened. Former NFL head coach Tony Dungy, a devout Christian man, have visited Vick in prison and talked to him a couple of time by phone since he been home. Dungy believes Vick is a changed man, is ready to help and move on. “We’re tough on dogfighters,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, who was skeptical about associating himself with Vick also according to Bell. Pacelle visited Vick at Leavenworth prison and at Vick’s house and now believes in Vick. “But at the same time, he’s served his time and we’re open to change,” said Pacelle. “We want him to be a better person.” Vick will spread the message to people of all ages about his experiences and the world of dogfighting.
Many people have their fingers crossed in hopes of Goodell granting Vick’s reinstatement this season, despite the possibility of protestors showing up to games. “I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of teams that want the exposure and have more people in those seats right now,” said Murphy. “Michael Vick will draw people to the seats because they want to see what Mike is going to do next.” It’s nothing like seeing a happy ending to a story of a person who turned their life around for the better. “I think it can be one of the greatest success stories of star who rose, fail, but only to rise again,” said Scott. “I think now when he raise again and I’m guessing he will rise again, for me it something that has already happened and foreseen, but I think he will appreciate it and all things happen for a reason.”
Vick’s life is far more about the lives he had and will impact. If Vick is not allowed to play, he still have to stay focus for himself, his family and the millions of supports watching him, but if he can play, Vick’s testimony will be even greater. “He’s going to be one of the greatest role models in the world and his testimony will be huge for the kids,” said Carpenter. “For a guy who have been to the highest of heights and had fell down. He has a tremendous story to tell.”