Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Michael Vick - Is He Worth It?

Ah, Michael Vick. There may not be a more controversial name in sports. The convicted felon was released from prison after nearly two years and will spend the next two months under home confinement. He’s permitted to leave the residence for work purposes, where he will earn $10 an hour doing construction work. Quite a fall from grace for a player who, at one time, was the NFL’s highest paid player with a $130 million contract. Now he’s bankrupt, and in a couple months you can bet your bottom dollar that he'll be in front of the Commissioner petitioning for his reinstatement.

Maybe it’s just the cynic in me, but I’m far from eager to give this ex-con a shot at once again being a millionaire. I won’t rehash the brutality and senselessness of the act in which he was involved because that’s been talked about at length. What is a big deal to me is that he had no problem lying about his involvement to his two employers, Falcons President Arthur Blank and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. To me that says everything about a person’s character. He obviously felt that he was smarter than the system and that he could get away with the crimes he committed. Then when he saw the writing on the wall, all of a sudden he was remorseful. Far more convenient than genuine in this guy's opinion.

Here are Vick’s comments prior to serving out his time in prison:

“Speaking softly and sounding neither rehearsed nor overly emotional, Vick stood at a hotel lectern and apologized to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Falcons and "to all the young kids out there for my immature acts."

"I offer my deepest apologies to everybody out there in the world who was affected by this whole situation," he said. "And if I'm more disappointed with myself than anything, it's because of all the young people, young kids, that I've let down, who look at Michael Vick as a role model.

"And to have to go through this and put myself in this situation . . . I hope every young kid out there in the world watching this interview right now who's been following the case will use me as an example to using better judgment and making better decisions."

He added: "I will redeem myself. I have to."

Again, I’m a cynic, but I very very very rarely put anything into statements like these. Show of hands for those who really think he sat down at a table with pen and paper and wrote this out himself? Nope, that’s where agents and PR firms come in. Why should anyone put one ounce of faith in that scripted apology?

I believe Michael Vick would still be committing the same sick crimes had he not be caught. IMO, he wasn’t sorry for what he did; just sorry he got caught. Isn’t that human nature? Hell, if he really felt bad about what he did to those animals and how his actions would let down those around him, wouldn’t you think that would be enough to dissuade him from committing those heinous crimes? Why did it take him getting thrown in prison for the apologies and remorseful speech to emerge? He obviously knew what he was doing was wrong but continued doing it anyways. Two years, five years, ten years later, is that someone you really want representing your company? Are we really to think he’s changed? Hopefully his dumb ass won’t get involved with anything like that again, but has less than two years in confinement really changed this guy’s mentality?

Once his home confinement period ends, he’ll undoubtedly approach the commissioner’s office seeking reinstatement to the league. I’m sure there will be plenty of “I’m sorry” and “I used bad judgment” statements, but how believable is it? Who’s going to want that PR plague on their team?
First, let’s look at the talent that is Michael Vick. He's a RB at the QB position who in 6 years couldn't establish himself as a leader or competent NFL passer.

'06 (his sixth and last year in the league):
24th in completions
31st out of 32 in completion % (outdid only Vince Young)
28th in passing yards per game

He was an overpaid Wildcat QB before the Wildcat was in vogue. So aside from the fact that he's horribly inaccurate, can't read progressions or coverages, and has absolutely no pocket presence, he's a great QB.

Assuming someone still thinks he can play QB or at least run with the ball in his hands from that position, who would want him? He could be a 3rd stringer on a lot of teams, but for argument's sake, let's assume that whoever brings him in plans on putting him on the field. Wouldn't that make sense? Is a team going to take a ton of bad publicity just to have a guy hold a clipboard on the sidelines? Someone please find me a team whose QB situation is bad enough to bring in that PR nightmare.

New England (Brady), Indianapolis (Manning), San Diego (Rivers), Pittsburgh (Roethlisberger), and Cincinnati (Palmer) are set.

Miami (Henne), NY Jets (Sanchez), Baltimore (Flacco), Cleveland (Quinn), Kansas City (Cassel), and Oakland (Russell) all have young QBs in need of development.

Tennessee already has one QB who can't pass on their bench earning plenty of money.
That leaves Buffalo, Houston, Jacksonville, and Denver.

Dallas (Romo), NY Giants (Manning), Chicago (Cutler), Green Bay (Rodgers), and New Orleans (Brees) are set.

Detroit (Stafford), Atlanta (Ryan), and Tampa Bay (Freeman) have young QBs in need of development.
Philadelphia has McNabb, and if that saga again goes south, you'd think Kevin Kolb would still be in their plans. Vick seems like a horrible fit for that team anyways. Think that Philly crowd might be a little ruthless?

Minnesota just traded for Sage Rosenfels and is courting the immortal Brett Favre because they've grown tired of the QB of their own who can't pass.

Kurt Warner isn't a spring chicken, but you'd think they'd go with Matt Leinart or Neil Lomax before they experimented with having Vick try to complete passes to Fitzgerald and Boldin.
That leaves Washington, Carolina, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Seattle.

The Candidates
So in all, that would leave Buffalo, Houston, Jacksonville, Denver, Washington, Carolina, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Seattle as the teams with the "most unsettled" QB situations. Let's look further.

Even if they decided to part ways with David Garrard (who has 5 years left on his deal), is Vick going to help Jacksonville's attendance woes?

Denver just acquired Kyle Orton (and Chris Simms, yes I included him) and is high on the guy. Would there be room for Vick? Hasn't their new regime suffered enough of a PR hit this offseason with the way they handled the Cutler situation?

Carolina just gave Jake Delhomme (arguably, maybe) the worst QB contract in the league. Do they need to make that worse by bringing in Vick? I'd like to see it happen; simply to watch what goes down when he run his mouth to Steve Smith.

Where do you think Vick falls in with Mike Singletary's "cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them, can't do it." philosophy?

Houston is committed to Matt Schaub for four more years, and St. Louis would take a massive cap hit for dealing/cutting Marc Bulger anytime soon.

Is Vick the answer to Buffalo's woes? He and Terrell Owens beating each other senseless (insert joke here) is something I might pay to see, but how likely is that scenario? Is it time to give up on Trent Edwards? Personally, I think that would be a really bad idea. I expect a big step forward for him (17-20 TD) this season.

Seattle's QB situation is shaky. Matt Hasselbeck has two years left on his contract and is recovering from a back issue. They also have Seneca Wallace who is steady, yet unspectacular in a backup role. Still, would Vick be their first, second, or even fifth option if they were to be in the market for another QB? Paul Allen isn’t going to piss off half of Seattle with a move like that. Seattle is a big dog-lovers city; no kidding. Jim Mora and Greg Knapp, both former Vick coaches in Atlanta, would be taking a huge step backwards in going from a guy like Hasselbeck to Vick. I’m guessing been there, done that, and thanks but no thanks.

That leaves, yep you guessed it, Washington. I didn't write this with the intent of having the Skins as the only option, but that's what it looks like from my perspective. Wouldn't that be just up Dan Snyder's alley? Jason Campbell is having a hell of a time getting any love in Washington, and Todd Collins doesn't exactly inspire Super Bowl dreams. They do still have Colt Brennan, but would Snyder, a guy who could give a rat's ass about bad PR, pass up a chance like this?

Then there are the supporters (or anti-haters) who take the stance that since Vick has served his time, he should be permitted to return to what he does for a living. Playing professional sports for a living is a privilege, not a right. I'm not saying he should be banned from the sport, but the league shouldn't be obligated to reinstate him either. He has a very limited market of employers, and if that market should decide that he's not what they're looking for, then maybe that construction work becomes a full time gig.

This may not be the situation that sparks it, but how much longer are fans, franchises, and sports in general going to keep putting up with the BS that these million dollar athletes get themselves into time after time after time? If it’s not steroids or other drugs, it’s DUI’s, domestic abuse, shooting others (or themselves) in clubs, getting 9 different women pregnant, or displaying basic behavior that would be intolerable in most avenues of employment. Sadly it won’t change, at least during my lifetime. Money is what makes the world go round, and as long as you can put butts in the seats (no, I'm not talking to you Anthony Mix), teams will always find it in their hearts, er pocketbooks to give athletes chance after chance after chance.

What’s the Endgame?
If he does play in ’09 and it’s not for the Redskins, then I’d say it would be for Al Davis’ Raiders. JaMarcus Russell is his QB, but you’ve got to think he’d find a way to get a guy with Vick’s athleticism on the field.

If I was Roger Goodell, I’d put Michael Vick’s sincerity to the test. I’d have him sit on the sidelines for the ’09 season and see if he’s humble, tough, and committed enough to make it through the year unscathed. Then if everything’s peachy a year from now, let him petition for reinstatement. If he’s reinstated and someone wants him, fine. I’d just like to see if he can live life as a normal human being for a year. If he can’t, then football obviously isn’t that important to the man.


  1. Well, I have some things to say, and some of them might not be politically correct. Some content has been modified to maintain a PG-14 rating.

    You wrote: "He obviously felt that he was smarter than the system and that he could get away with the crimes he committed."

    You are correct. Leaving aside the notion that Michael Vick could ever think himself smarter than anyone other than Corky from 'Life Goes On', I firmly believe that until it became apparent to him that he was, in fact, about to
    face incarceration, his attitude was (and I quote myself from an email to Mr. Jeff) 'Aint
    a m********* thing f'na happen to Michael Vick, dog'. I believe my opinion was confirmed post
    facto by Jay Glazer on the Dan Patrick show a week or two ago.

    'I believe Michael Vick would still be committing the same sick crimes had he not be caught.'

    Absolutely he would. I've repeatedly heard 'There are guys out there that did worse to
    people, and they're in the league'. Fine. Let me tell them what distinguishes Vick
    from those loathsome characters; torture. Leonard Little may be a scumbag for driving drunk and killing someone, and Michael Pittman
    may be beneath contempt for repeatedly hitting his wife, but neither of those players (according
    to documented accounts) ever took delight in the pain and suffering of another living creature. Contrary to the group-think promulgated by the
    popular media and rapidly adopted by the Oprahfied populace, we do not all 'deserve a second chance'. If that were true, we wouldn't need parole boards, and Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel would have been living scot-free on beach in Malibu in 1978.

    "So aside from the fact that he's horribly inaccurate, can't read progressions or coverages, and has absolutely no pocket presence, he's a great QB."

    If you had seen him live,and many Bucs fans have, you would have seen just how bad he really was. I would watch him drop back, take his bunny hop and scoot while his recievers had already managed to get enough separation for any decent NFL quarterback to hit for a good gain.
    Does anyone believe Roddy White just happened to get better overnight? That he went from
    a step away from the waiver wire to knocking on the door to the Pro-Bowl dressing room?

    "Jim Mora and Greg Knapp, both former Vick coaches in Atlanta, would be taking a huge step backwards in going from a guy like Hasselbeck to Vick."

    I'd be fascinated to hear what those guys had to say about Vick under sodium penathol. They knew
    how much they had to dumb down the playbook. They watched the film on Mondays that showed them
    the lost opportunites. They know that in todays NFL, many, many games come down to a four minute
    endgame where you have to march the ball down the field in the air, and they knew how their gameplan had to be modified because their quarterback wasn't capable of executing that drill.

    "That leaves, yep you guessed it, Washington."

    If I were Jason Campbell I would demand a trade if I found out that my GM or owner had opened
    discussions with Vick. 'Cutler threw for 4000 yards! Sanchez had discernable 'upside'. But THAT
    dumb***? You're telling me you think he would be better than me??! He can't read English, much less the Eagles blitz scheme!!'

    So of course, I fully expect Raheem Morris to put Vick in pewter in 2009.

  2. oops. Signed, TPE.