VICKSVILLE – Let’s go there today. But let’s keep up the good manners we’ve been working on this offseason.
Fussing is fine. Cussing is not.
Two of my favorite folks in the NFL – Gil Brandt and Jamie Dukes – shared their very different views on
Michael Vick’s possible return to the National Football League.
Let’s look at some of the issues:
SHAKING OFF THE RUST: Vick has not played since Dec. 31, 2006 against the Philadelphia Eagles, when he left the game with an ankle injury giving way to Matt Schaub.
He was working out in Bobby Petrino’s offense over the 2007 offseason when the federal dogfighting case broke.
“It will be a challenge, but I’m not nearly as concerned about that,” said Dukes, an analyst with the NFL Network and former player.
Brandt, the former Dallas personnel man, shared a story about a linebacker the Cowboys drafted out of Missouri, who went into the service for two years.
“When he came back he was just not the same,” Brandt said. “I think it’s like somebody that drops out of school for two years and then they try to recover their study habits, it’s very, very hard. . . .
“I just think it’s really hard for a guy that is away and misses two years to get back up to speed and realize that you have to work to be successful because you lose that edge.”
THE WILDCAT OFFENSE: Most have contended that Vick could come back as a Wildcat offense quarterback.
“The spread helps him get a job,” Brandt said. “If and when he’s cleared. He can do that pretty well because of the fact that he can run so well.”
Dukes thinks that with teams – like the Falcons – emphasizing the running game, that Vick is a fit for any run-heavy attack.
“Look at the Falcons and their success,” Dukes said. “Most teams think if we can play good defense and run the football, we are going to be successful. So what Michael brings to the game. . . is you’re going to have one of the top three rushing offenses in the league. That’s just fact. Every year he’s played that number speaks for itself.”
VICK LACK OF PASSING PROWESS: Vick has a lively arm, but he was still developing as a passer. Former
coach Bobby Petrino would have helped him along if things had worked out.
“Some might say he’s not a career 60 percent passer; are we going to ignore the yardage that he gets running the football?,” Dukes said. “Are we going to ignore all of the other things that he does?
“He’s not the prototypical NFL quarterback, but that does not mean that he’s not a good quarterback. He still will be a good quarterback.”
Brandt never liked Vick as a passer.
“At Virginia Tech, he hit 56 point something of his passes,” Brandt said. “Which is not very good. His brother (Marcus) who wasn’t even considered a good passer and hit 59, almost 60 percent of his passes. In the Wildcat formation, that is probably where he has to be if he’s going to be on offense.”
CAN VICK STILL PACK THE STANDS: It’s no league secret that for years before Vick arrived, selling out Falcons game was a difficult task. TV blackouts have a place in local Falcon lore.
“Vick is recession proof,” Dukes said. “That is the one thing that I can say about him that people forget. If he’s going to play, he’s going to pack out whatever stadium he’s going in.
“How many members of PETA are actually season ticket holders? You where here with the Falcons fans when this thing went down. You saw that the season ticket holders wanted Michael Vick back.
“They understood that he did something terrible and they understood that he needed to pay some form of a price for what he did. But they wanted him. This wasn’t a racial issue, black, white or purple. Falcon fans, season ticket holders, wanted their quarterback.
“So whatever team he goes to, those fans are going to want their quarterback to play. Especially, if their quarterback position is poor. Are you telling me that Michael Vick won’t go into St. Louis, where they are worried about selling tickets and sell that place out? You are telling me that if he went to Kansas City that he wouldn’t pack that place out? I know they just got Matt Cassel, but before that. If he went to Detroit he would pack that joint.”
Cleveland and San Francisco are two other quarterback-needy teams Dukes mentioned. (Hey, Cleveland does have the Dawg Pound, too! I know, bad joke.)
POSITION CHANGE: Agent Joel Segal and Vick’s camp are not considering a position change to wide receiver, running back or defensive back.
Brandt thinks that might not be wise.
“I don’t know if you can teach a guy to back pedal, but he’s an athlete,” Brandt said. “He might be a corner because of his speed and athletic ability. Because of his running ability, he might be a running back. There will be opportunities for him, but I think it will be extremely hard for him to come back as a quarterback.”
Vick is a quarterback in Dukes’ book.
“He’s not Peyton Manning, but you know what, he’s got some things that Peyton Manning doesn’t have,” Dukes said. “Peyton has some things in the passing game that Mike doesn’t have. Nevertheless, he’s a very effective quarterback. . .
“That guy can play quarterback. He’s not Steve Young in the West Coast offense, but guess what, who is? He is a good enough quarterback.
“His numbers are pretty darn good, when you compare it to some of the bums who have played the quarterback position. This guy wins games.”
THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: For us folks that have covered the Vick case from the beginning, we know about the substantial role The Humane Society of the United States played in helping to convict Vick.
PETA does all of the protesting, but the well-financed Humane Society does the heavy-lifting.
It’s ironic now that they now may play a role in helping Vick cleanse his reputation. Here’s a link to a blog written by their president Wayne Pacelle.
FROM THE E-MAIL BAG: Here are some of the e-mails I received this week on Vick’s release to home confinement.
“Orlando, I am surprised no one did a story about Vick’s day to day life in prison. There is some disconnect in this country to what prison is. I hear people saying he needs to be punished when he gets out. What do they think he was doing in prison?
“You mention he will be on home confinement and add the 3,500 square foot house. You think a killer cares if he is juiced in a mahogany electric chair or a metal one. They must have something in the journalism school that says to leave the description of prison or punishment alone.
“If you talk about it maybe someone might not be afraid of it, get it figured out, and maybe want to go there.
“The place is hell; the man has been through hell for a damn dog fight.”
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“The no good SOB should never be allowed to play in the NFL again.”
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“Now that he has paid his debt to the dogs, can we move on, and let him get on with his life. He should not have been in jail for fighting dogs, and I am a dog lover, but who died and made P.E.T.A. gods. I hope he is allowed to play football, or (whatever) he wants to do without (a) newspaper reporter recording his every move. . . .
“The media should get over it, and let him move on, the public has.”
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“I believe the Falcons are making a BIG mistake in not keeping Vick. Yes, we have a terrific new starting quarterback who deserves to remain that way. However what if he gets hurt? You need a good backup and certainly could we believe that the other QB’s could come close to filling Ryan shoes?
“Michael Vick is serving his debt to society by virtue of his prison time, probationary period and substantial loss of income. He is paying the price for his very poor past judgments. He has had plenty of time to think about his stupidity while he was in Leavenworth. . . .
“Atlanta sports teams have traded away so many good athletes and have nothing to show for it. Vick can contribute and I believe that when Vick is reinstated, Mr. Blank should consider what Vick could do and give Vick, a talented star, another opportunity.”
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Remember the rules, y’all. Fussing is fine. Cussing is not.
Let’s try to have a civil dialogue on this. Are the Falcons making the right football decision? Should they let Vick play in a preseason game or two in order to rebuild some value and then trade him? Will you get anything for him when teams know that you are going to cut him if you can’t trade him? Should they just wash their hands and move on?