Who Even Wants Him?
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The question of whether Michael Vick will be allowed to play in the NFL again is irrelevant. Commissioner Roger Goodell is going to reinstate him. Vick's sentence has been served and in the coming months he will express the proper contrition and volunteer with whichever animal rights organization will take him on regardless of how insincere the gesture might truly be. He will re-polish his image enough for a league governed by public relations to take him back.
The much greater issue is who should want him?
Of course there will be a small pack of true suitors among the legion of the curious. He was at a time one of the NFL's brighter quarterback prospects, and it wasn't that long ago. Vick was a player who promised to take the professional game to a new place with a mix of passing and speed. For awhile, he did. But in the months before federal authorities stumbled across his dog-fighting compound, he showed the signs of a player in a free-fall.
While he rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards in his final season, he oversaw the complete collapse of the Atlanta Falcons, one in which his defiant attitude and undercutting personality led to the destruction of his coach, Jim Mora, Jr. By the end of that year he had made obscene gestures toward his home fans and fallen into a statistical whirlpool, completing less than 10 passes in four of his final six games.
Now, after two seasons away from the NFL, it's hard to see where Vick can truly make a difference, especially considering the baggage he will drag along with him -- the public outrage, the image that can never fully be cleansed. Sure teams will be attracted by his ability to run the wildcat offense, which was all the rage in the NFL last year. But the wildcat may prove to be a fad, a surprise that everybody copied last season. Defensive coordinators have had a winter now to devise schemes to stop it. The chances are, quarterbacks who can play the wildcat will probably not be in great demand by year's end. Like most gimmicks that come along in the NFL, it will run its course.
And along with it may go Vick's last chance at football redemption.
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